Kratom Abuse & Addiction in Orlando

What is Kratom?

Kratom is a substance that’s derived from a tree found in Southeast Asia. Kratom leaves have mind-altering or psychotropic effects, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Kratom isn’t illegal currently, but people can purchase the drug with ease. Kratom can be taken in various ways.

Some people use kratom in tea-form while others take it as a pill or extract. It’s also possible to chew or smoke the leaves. There is debate surrounding the use of kratom, its legality and its potential risks.

So, what does kratom do? Kratom has demonstrated effects similar to that of stimulants and opioids. There are certain compounds found in kratom that interact with the central nervous system’s opioid receptors. When someone uses kratom, that person might experience pleasure or euphoria, sedation, relaxation and reduced pain. The opioid-like effects have a greater impact on the person when kratom is used in large doses. It’s also possible for compounds of kratom to create a more stimulant-like effect on the brain. This is especially true when the drug is used in small doses. When someone takes a small amount of kratom, they may experience an increase in energy levels, more sociability and increased alertness.

Since kratom isn’t regulated in the United States currently, at least at the federal level, the drug is often marketed as an herbal supplement. It is sometimes touted as being a replacement for people who are addicted to opioids, as a natural pain reliever and as a mood enhancer or anxiety reliever.

The kratom plant has long been used by people in Southeast Asia, although it’s relatively new in terms of being used in the United States and other Western countries. People in Southeast Asia often relied on kratom to help them work longer and harder. Now, in some countries where kratom is a native plant, use of the drug is banned.

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In February 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a memo stating there hasn’t been reliable scientific information published that supports the medical use of kratom. The FDA also said that kratom shouldn’t be used as a prescription opioid alternative or to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. In 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published a notice indicating they were going to put kratom on their Schedule I list, which is the most restrictive classification of the Controlled Substances Act. While this move didn’t end up occurring due largely to public outcry, many states have decided to ban kratom.

Some of the physical side effects of using kratom include:

  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Dry mouth
  • Seating
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

Additionally, there were warnings issued by the FDA in 2017 regarding kratom’s potential to cause an overdose. There are 44 deaths that the FDA is attributing to being related to kratom use. However, most of these deaths are because people used kratom with other substances mixed in, or they combined their use of kratom with use of other substances, like alcohol or benzodiazepines.

Is Kratom Addictive?

There is debate as to whether or not kratom is addictive. The DEA describes kratom as having a high abuse potential and no currently accepted or approved medical uses. Along with possibly being psychologically addictive, kratom can lead to physical dependence. If someone is dependent on kratom and they stop using it, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. Kratom withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Irritability and hostility
  • Insomnia
  • Aggression
  • Mood and emotional changes
  • Runny nose

Current research shows that the physical, mental and addictive risks of kratom are higher when people take concentrated extracts or mix the drug with other psychoactive substances. Using kratom can also be riskier for people with a history of alcohol abuse problems, a history of heroin abuse or underlying physical health conditions.

Kratom Addiction Statistics

Currently, it’s very difficult to find any verifiable kratom addiction statistics. This is for a few different reasons. First, there’s limited standardized and controlled research looking at kratom and its effects. It’s also a challenge to determine if someone is truly addicted to kratom based on antidotal information. However, because of the way kratom affects certain receptors in the brain, it is possible that kratom is an addictive substance. In February 2018, the FDA reiterated their belief that kratom has a potential for abuse, addiction and serious health consequences.

The best advice regarding kratom is to be cautious with its use. Unregulated herbal supplements do have the potential to be addictive and lead to physical dependence. Kratom, since it’s not currently regulated, can also have different additives and ingredients that can be dangerous. Self-medicating with anything that’s not well-researched or standardized can be harmful, even deadly.

If you are struggling with kratom or another addictive substance, Orlando Recovery Center’s team of intake coordinators can help you learn more about the options available to you or your loved one.