What is Kratom and Is it Safe?

People may use kratom as a way of managing opioid withdrawal and opioid use disorder (OUD).1 According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 1.7 million Americans used kratom in 2021.2

It can be hard to deal with opioid addiction and withdrawal on your own. If you or someone you care about is struggling with OUD, you should know that there may be safer ways to manage it than with kratom.1

If you’re wondering, “Is kratom safe?” keep reading to learn more about what kratom is, kratom side effects, kratom withdrawal, whether kratom is addictive, and how to find help for opioid addiction.

What Is Kratom?

Kratom is an herbal substance that comes from a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia.1,2 The term kratom is used to refer to both the tree, known as Mitragyna speciosa, as well as to products that are made from its leaves, sold as herbal supplements.

People use kratom in different ways, such as swallowing capsules, powders, or liquid extracts, or as powders by mixing the powder into food or drinks or making tea with the leaves.1

 Is Kratom Safe?

While kratom has been used in traditional Southeast Asian medicinal practices for hundreds of years, current research has not yet determined whether kratom is actually safe, particularly in supplements sold in smoke shops, on the internet and elsewhere.1 Kratom has not been approved for use by the FDA, and research into kratom’s possible uses, as well as harms, is still ongoing.1

While there is still a lot to learn, the FDA currently advises that people avoid kratom due to certain potential hazards.1 Scientists still do not understand much about the specific chemical compounds in kratom or the ways these might affect people, but they have expressed several safety concerns based on early research.1 Some of these risks may include:

  • The potential for kratom to contain harmful contaminants. Like other supplements, kratom is not FDA regulated.1 Researchers have found heavy metals and certain types of bacteria in kratom supplements.1
  • Potential lethality. While only a very small number of deaths have been linked to kratom itself, contaminants or other drugs contained in supplements may be life-threatening.1
  • Unknown short- and long-term health and safety effects. This also includes effects associated with kratom intoxication, as well as the potential effects on pregnant women and their unborn babies.1
  • Other adverse effects. Although evidence is mostly anecdotal, people have reported certain, often unpleasant, side effects from kratom.1

Kratom Side Effects

The effects of kratom are not fully understood, and most of what we know is largely self-reported.1 However, early evidence has pointed to some of the ways that kratom might affect the body.1  These effects can depend on different factors, such as the dosage, potency, product formulation, method of use, other substances a person uses, medical factors, and whether a person has previous experience with kratom.1

Some of the more common side effects that have been reported with kratom use include:1

  • Increased energy.
  • Increased alertness.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Relaxation.
  • Pain relief.
  • Confusion.
  • Nausea.
  • Constipation.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Dizziness.

Can You Overdose on Kratom?

While overdose on kratom has been reported, the research thus far indicates that this is exceedingly rare.3 According to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), most kratom-associated deaths were the result of contaminants or other substances.3 However, if you suspect that you or someone else may have overdosed on kratom or another substance, you should contact 911 right away.

Most reports of adverse effects and overdose are anecdotal.4 One case report on a person who overdosed on kratom indicates that overdose symptoms can mimic those associated with opioid overdose, and may include:4

  • Altered mental status.
  • Slowed breathing.
  • Constricted pupils.
  • Decreased bowel sounds.

Kratom Withdrawal

There isn’t yet enough research to definitively state whether people can experience kratom withdrawal; however, some evidence reports that withdrawal is possible, especially after prolonged use.Withdrawal can be an indicator of dependence.2

Kratom withdrawal symptoms that have been reported include:4

  • Muscle spasms.
  • Pain.
  • Insomnia.
  • Runny nose.
  • Fever.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Restlessness.
  • Tension.
  • Anger.
  • Nervousness.

Is Kratom Addictive?

Researchers still do not fully understand kratom’s addictive potential, although research is still ongoing.1 Addiction is diagnosed as a substance use disorder (SUD), which involves specific criteria.1

While there is no diagnostic category that specifically involves kratom use, here have been some reports of a small minority of people who have experienced SUD-like symptoms from kratom.1 These symptoms can include:2

  • Using kratom for longer than intended.
  • Using more kratom than intended.
  • Cravings for kratom.
  • Continuing to use kratom despite negative consequences to their life, relationships, and health.
  • Needing more kratom to produce the same effect, known as tolerance.
  • Withdrawal.

Using Kratom to Manage Addiction

People use kratom for a variety of reasons, such as to increase energy or for relaxation, but they also commonly use it to manage symptoms associated with opioid addiction and withdrawal.

Kratom hasn’t yet been proven safe or effective for any medical condition, including for the management of addiction or withdrawal.1 However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates that early studies suggest kratom should be studied further as a potential experimental treatment for SUDs, particularly OUD.1

It can be challenging and stressful to deal with opioid addiction and withdrawal on your own. As kratom is not yet fully understood, it’s important to know that there are evidence-based, proven methods to help people struggling with opioid addiction.5 These methods can help people live happier, healthier, and more positive lives.5

Drug Addiction Treatment in Las Vegas, NV

If you’re struggling with opioid addiction, or you know someone who is, you don’t have to go it alone. We are here to help you every step of the way.

Desert Hope, our inpatient rehab in Las Vegas, offers various types of addiction treatment to suit all needs. You can learn more about the treatment admissions process and the types of rehab we offer. When you’re ready to reach out, please call us at to speak to a caring and compassionate admissions navigator to learn more about your rehab options.

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