You may have started to see and hear the word “kratom” recently. This “all-natural” mood enhancement supplement has seen a rise in popularity in the United States in the last few years. Unregulated and easily accessible to the general public, kratom is highly addictive, and rehabilitation centers have to address the problem of these new addictions.
What is kratom?
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is derived from a tropical tree native to several countries in Southeast Asia. The leaves of the kratom tree are harvested, dried, and typically ground into powder form. The most common forms of ingestion are mixing the powder into a drink, and placing the powder in capsules to be taken in pill form.
The most common strains of kratom are green, red, and yellow veins. While these three strains come from the same plant, the distinction in colors refers to the age of the leaves when harvested. As the plant matures, the veins of the leaves begin to change color. The effects of kratom vary depending on the color and harvesting practices.
The effects of kratom
While kratom has psychoactive properties similar to marijuana, it reacts differently depending on the maturity of the leaves when harvested, dosage, and the individual user. Some users report a relaxing and euphoric effect, while others state that it gives them high levels of energy and alertness, similar to amphetamines.
In higher doses, the effects of kratom tend to mimic those of opioids. In the United States, the most common reasons given for kratom use are to alleviate pain, treat anxiety, and to reduce the effects of opioid withdrawal.
The dangers of kratom
Research has shown that Kratom affects the same area of the brain as opiates. The brain becomes physically changed just like it does with opiates, and the addiction response is very similar. People who use Kratom may start showing signs of physical addiction in as little as 10 days of use. Withdrawal symptoms become worse the longer the product is used.
There have been several deaths reported from using Kratom. These deaths have occurred from overdosing on the product. People quickly build a tolerance to kratom, and just like opiates, need higher doses to achieve the same effect.
In addition to the addictive properties of kratom and the potential for overdose, other dangers exist. In April of 2018 the FDA issued a mandatory recall of products containing kratom due to concerns of salmonella contamination after the bacteria was found in tested samples.
An unusual characteristic of kratom is its effects on the personality of the people using the substance. Studies are currently being conducted to determine if using kratom leads to mood disorders or if people with mood disorders are attracted to kratom. Many mental health professionals and addiction specialists have noticed that there is a dual diagnosis when treating someone with kratom dependency.
The legality of kratom
Currently the drug is not considered a controlled substance at the federal level, nor is it regulated, although the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists it as a Drug and Chemical of Concern. Certain states, counties, and municipalities do have regulations and prohibitions regarding the sale and possession of kratom, and US Army soldiers are forbidden from using it.
Both the DEA and FDA have attempted to introduce regulations, and/or outright ban the psychoactive chemicals found in kratom. They have cited the potential for overdose, as well as kratom’s opioid-like effects as making it unfit for both recreational and medicinal use. However, these efforts have failed due to pushback from the public as well as congress.
Kratom is easily accessible and is available at many convenience stores as well as online. Due to the lack of restrictions and regulations anyone is able to purchase it, regardless of age. Although some distributors of the drug include a recommended dosage on the packaging, there are no official guidelines, nor is any amount of kratom considered safe for consumption. This, along with there being no regulations regarding potency, are major contributing factors to the frequency of accidental overdoses caused by use of the drug.
Addiction recovery centers can help
Addiction to kratom is a very real thing. People that have been using this drug can experience the same withdrawal symptoms as those who have used opiates. The effect on the brain and the body is very real, and physical withdrawal can be challenging.
It has been found that many people who have become addicted to kratom are using this drug as a cross-addiction. They are trying to break their habit from another type of drug or alcohol, so they begin to use this substance because they feel it is safe.
In reality, they have traded or added to their addiction. Kratom has the same physical and mental addiction issues as other drugs, and breaking the addiction will most likely require drug rehab.
The road to recovery
If you have entered into a drug rehabilitation program for using kratom, congratulations on starting on your road to recovery. This is your first step in overcoming the addiction and learning how to create a more positive future for yourself.
When you are in drug rehab, you will work closely with a substance abuse counselor. Your counselor will help you discover the roots of your addiction and help you achieve freedom from substance abuse.
While you are in rehab, you will be examined for other conditions that may have enhanced your addiction. Many times there is a coexisting condition or secondary condition like PTSD, anxiety, or depression that is enhancing the addiction. These issues will be addressed as well during rehabilitation so that you can enter into recovery feeling better about yourself mentally and physically.
All natural does not necessarily mean safe
Many people have turned to kratom because they believe that it is safe to use because it is marketed as an all-natural product. This is simply not true. You must remember that many of the illegal drugs out there right now, including opiates, are all made from natural plant products.
Just because you can purchase this product at a convenience store or online without a problem does not make it safe. There are no regulations on strength, manufacturing process, or dosage size. When you are using this product, even for the first time, you are taking a risk.
If you are experiencing signs of addiction or withdrawal from kratom, seek help from a substance abuse recovery center. You can overcome this addiction and move forward to a life in recovery.
Recovery is possible from any type of addiction. It does not matter if it is an illegal drug or something you can buy at the local store. You do not have to live your life dependent on any type of substance. Seek help from a drug recovery center and begin planning your new life in recovery.
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