When someone brings up the topic of addiction, we usually think of familiar substances like alcohol, cocaine, heroin, or meth. While it’s certainly important to focus on the most prevalent and dangerous drugs in society, addictions to lesser-known drugs can easily go unnoticed and untreated.
All too often, the relative obscurity of such substances makes it easy for users to convince themselves and others that it’s totally harmless. Or, as is often claimed with kratom, that it’s actually beneficial.
What Is Kratom?
Kratom, also known as biak, thom, ithang, kakuam or ketum, is a psychoactive substance made from the leaves of a southeast Asian tree (Mitragyna speciosa). The leaves are collected and dried for use in various kratom products, all of which are currently considered legal for sale and can be acquired easily online. Most users take powdered kratom in capsule form, but it can also be smoked, eaten, or brewed as tea.
Some proponents of alternative medicine claim kratom is a natural treatment, but no scientific evidence exists to support such claims. Even more concerning is the fact that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified more than 40 deaths from kratom products, most of which were laced with other compounds.
A series of FDA warnings regarding kratom use have been issued since 2017. It has also been banned in both Thailand and Malaysia (since 1979 and 2003, respectively).
Is Kratom Addictive?
The extent to which kratom can be considered addictive is not yet fully understood. Because kratom has effects similar to those of opioid drugs, it may disrupt natural brain chemistry in a similar way. This may lead to a physiological dependence.
Even if physical addiction is not the primary factor, a psychological addiction to kratom can be just as damaging. A psychological addiction may not have the same biochemical basis or withdrawal symptoms as a true physical dependence, but symptoms like obsession, anxiety, depression, and drug-seeking behavior can just as easily destroy one’s career, relationships, and self-esteem.
Getting Treatment for a Kratom Addiction
With any addiction, the importance of getting proper treatment and having sufficient support cannot be understated. The first step, however, is admitting to having a problem. With substances like kratom that are marketed like natural supplements, it can be difficult for friends and family members to get through to addicted loved ones who truly believe it’s good for their health and well-being.
If a friend or loved one is denying what you believe to be a serious addiction, it may be a good idea to reach out to an expert as soon as concerns arise. A professional addiction specialist may be able to explain the risks of kratom abuse in a way that the individual will respect and understand.
Individuals seeking rehab for a kratom addiction typically participate in one of three types of programs: inpatient, outpatient, and intensive outpatient (IOP).
An intensive program in which the client lives on-site at the facility and works through addiction-related issues via 12-step meetings and regular group and individual therapy sessions. Privileges are strictly limited, at first, but may be earned with progress. For many, inpatient treatment begins with medically monitored detox to break the physical addiction.
Usually used as a follow-up to a completed inpatient rehab, outpatient treatment is a less restrictive type of program that allows clients to continue working a regular job and living at home. Outpatient clients are allowed to set their own schedules for meetings and therapy, but they must meet set guidelines to remain active in the program.
Intensive Outpatient Rehab
Intensive outpatient gives clients similar freedom to that of outpatient rehab clients, regardless of whether they have previously been through inpatient treatment or not. One of the least restrictive types of treatment available, IOP programs are ideal for those who are not physically addicted but would like to have intensive professional support.
How Can I Tell if a Loved One Is Using Kratom?
If you suspect that someone you know may be using kratom (or using it more aggressively than they readily admit), watch for unusual side effects like the following.
Potential Physical and Mental Effects
- Dry mouth
- Reduced appetite
- Itching sensation
- Weight loss (and, in some, anorexia)
- Muscle pain, spasms/twitching
- Darkening of the skin
- Thyroid problems
Potential Emotional and Behavioral Effects
- Possible worsening of mental illnesses
- Suspicious behavior (sneaking out to buy kratom, hiding kratom, etc.)
- Development of problems at work (difficulty keeping jobs, poor performance)
- Obsession with kratom
- Ignoring responsibilities, hobbies, and personal needs in order to use kratom
Kratom Addiction Withdrawal
The specific symptoms of withdrawal may vary from case to case, but at the very least are likely to involve noticeable anxiety, irritability, and a strong desire to use the substance. As kratom produces opioid-like effects, there may also be milder versions of opioid withdrawal symptoms like stomach cramps, sweating, and diarrhea. If the kratom products the person used were laced with another substance, other side effects may also be present.
Has Kratom Taken Over Your Life? We Can Help
If you or someone you love has become physically or psychologically dependent upon kratom, Yellowstone Recovery is here to help. Our inpatient, outpatient, and intensive outpatient rehab programs are led by experienced certified addiction specialists and centered around the belief that addicted individuals deserve compassionate, respectful help—not judgment.
Our 24/7 facility staff provides clients with valuable emotional support and assistance during treatment, allowing them to focus on healing their addictions and building the foundations of a new, sober life. With our effective rehabilitation techniques, secure premises, and beautiful southern California scenery, we offer individuals a peaceful, understanding place to start over and seek happiness again.
If you have questions about kratom addiction or would like to learn more about our programs, call us today at (888) 418-4188.
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