Kratom Abuse and Addiction

Kratom can be regarded as a relatively new drug in the Europe and United States. In other regions like the South-east Asia, it has been in use as a painkiller, antidiarrheal, and as a recreational drug for a long time. The drug is extracted from a tropical tree that grows in abundance in the South-east Asian countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Papua, Indonesia and New Guinea. The chemical substance extracted is used as a herbal supplement in these regions. There are few benefits associated with Kratom. It is used as a good painkiller and to boost up the energy levels in a person. There are some prospects that are demand the ban of this drug in the US but some of its beneficial effects are acting as a hindrance in the banning of it. The ban of Kratom is currently a topic of debate in the US.

What is Kratom?

It is a herbal medicine used in the regions of South-East Asia. It belongs to the same family as the coffee plant. The leaves of the plant Kratom are used for various purposes and are consumed either in the crushed form or eaten as full. Like other drugs, it can be used in the capsule, tablets or liquid form. The drug is used for relieving pain, anxiety, and depression. Kratom has been put in the category of ‘New Psychoactive substance’ by the Drug and Crime Department USA. Other substances that are put in the similar category are ‘Khat’, mephedrone, and Ketamine. These all drugs are still legitimate in the Europe and US due to their few beneficial properties but that has led to their increased abuse by the people. The street names given to Kratom include:

  • Thang
  • Herbal Speedball
  • Ithang
  • Ketum
  • Thom
  • Kahaum
  • Biak-Biak

How does Kratom work?

In low doses, Kratom acts as a stimulant and in high doses, it works as a sedative. The chemical compound in the plant acts on the opioid receptors of the body to produce the pleasant, calm and happy sensations. The pain killer properties of the drug are also due to its interaction with the opioid receptors in the brain. The pleasurable or euphoric effects are produced within few minutes of consumption of the drug. When the drug is taken in higher doses, the person experiences increased energy levels and alertness. The very high doses can depress the CNS and the respiratory centers.

What are the uses of Kratom?

There are no legitimate medicinal uses of the drug in the United States. In the other South Asian countries, the drug has been used as an analgesic. In those regions, it is also known as the most effective herbal painkiller that is available up till now. The other unapproved uses of the drug are alleviation of the muscle aches, fibromyalgia, and arthritis. However, all these uses are from the perspective of the herbal product. The drug hasn’t got any official status in the medicine or drugs pharmacy.

What are the dosage amounts for Kratom?

The drug has no approved medicinal uses but the doses that can elicit the various effects have been studied. For the premium quality of Kratom, consuming 3 to 5g can produce the mild effects; 4 to 10 g produce the moderate, 8 to 15 g strong and 12-25 g of the drug can produce very strong effects. For the ultra-potent form of Kratom, 2 to 4 g can produce the mild effects, 3 to 7 g moderate, 6 to 10 g strong and 8 to 16 g as very strong effects. In the case of Kratom Extracts, 1 to 2 g is categorized as mild, 2 to 4 g as moderate, 3 to 6 grams as strong and 5 to 8 g as very strong.

  • Mild effects are the stimulating effects
  • Moderate effects include the euphoric and pleasant feelings
  • Strong effects are the high euphoric effects
  • Very strong effects include a combination of euphoric, stimulant, analgesic and sedative effects.

The doses and effects can vary slightly among individuals according to their genetic make-up and other factors like duration of abuse and tolerance.

Is Kratom addictive?

Kratom is said to be addictive. Like the other opioid drugs, it has the stimulant properties at lower doses and sedative effects at the higher doses. According to the reports of Poison Control Centers, the abuse of the drug is on a rise in the United States. The DEA has currently listed the drug as a matter of concern. The drug hasn’t been much researched so the evidence is quite limited but so far the collected results show that the drug has a potential of abuse, tolerance and the addiction with its long and regular use.

Common Kratom drug combinations:

The combination of Kratom with other stimulant drugs can be potentially dangerous. Most often the drug is combined with Cocaine, Yohimbine, Caffeine, and amphetamine-like medicines, benzodiazepines and alcohol. The combination of these drugs can produce the much amplified effects that can prove to be lethal to the person. At higher doses, these drugs act as the respiratory system and central nervous system depressants, the person can easily go into the state of coma and death.

American statistics on Kratom abuse:

Kratom abuse is a rising problem in the USA. Efforts are being made to make the use, sale or distribution of drug as illegitimate. The statistics on the Kratom abuse show that:

  • There were about 42% reported cases of Kratom abuse from the year 2010 to 2015.
  • According to the reports by CDC, 7% patients with the Kratom exposure were in a very poor state.
  • The number of deaths from the year 2014 to 2016 due to Kratom abuse was 15.