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Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT

What Is Kratom?

Kratom, scientifically known as Mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia, particularly in regions such as Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea. The leaves of the kratom tree have been traditionally used for their stimulant and pain-relieving effects, often chewed or brewed into a tea by indigenous populations.

Kratom contains active compounds, including mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which interact with opioid receptors in the brain, producing effects that can range from stimulating to sedative. Due to these properties, kratom has been used in some cultures to manage pain, enhance mood, and increase energy.

In recent years, kratom has gained popularity in various parts of the world, including the United States, as an herbal supplement. It is available in various forms, such as powdered leaves, capsules, and extracts. Some individuals use kratom for self-treatment of conditions like chronic pain, anxiety, and depression.

Here are some common types of kratom:

  1. Red Vein Kratom:

    • Red Bali Kratom: Known for its relaxing and pain-relieving effects, Red Bali is one of the most popular red vein strains.
    • Red Maeng Da Kratom: Often considered more potent than other red strains, Red Maeng Da is associated with both pain relief and energy-boosting properties.
    • Red Borneo Kratom: This strain is known for its calming effects and potential for pain management.
  2. Green Vein Kratom:

    • Green Malay Kratom: Recognized for its balance of energy and pain relief, Green Malay is a popular choice among kratom users.
    • Green Maeng Da Kratom: Similar to its red counterpart, Green Maeng Da is known for its energizing and mood-enhancing properties.
    • Green Borneo Kratom: Users often describe Green Borneo as providing a moderate boost of energy and mild pain relief.
  3. White Vein Kratom:

    • White Sumatra Kratom: White Sumatra is known for its energizing effects and potential mood enhancement.
    • White Maeng Da Kratom: This strain is often chosen for its stimulating properties and cognitive benefits.
    • White Thai Kratom: White Thai is associated with increased energy and mental focus.
  4. Gold Vein Kratom:

    • Gold Bali Kratom: Sometimes considered a variation of red vein kratom, Gold Bali is known for its relaxing and euphoric effects.
    • Gold Maeng Da Kratom: Similar to Gold Bali, this strain is associated with a balanced experience, combining relaxation and stimulation.
  5. Yellow Vein Kratom:

    • Yellow Vietnam Kratom: Yellow Vietnam is known for its moderate effects, providing a balance between relaxation and stimulation.
    • Yellow Maeng Da Kratom: This strain is often sought for its potential mood-boosting and energizing effects.

It’s important to note that the effects of kratom can vary among individuals, and factors such as dosage, individual tolerance, and the specific strain can influence the experience.

The Rise of Kratom Usage in the U.S.

Lately, there’s been a surge in kratom’s popularity across the United States. Why? Some believe it’s a safer alternative to prescription opioids. However, it’s important to note that kratom has been a subject of controversy and concern. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has raised issues about the safety and potential health risks associated with kratom use. There have been reports of adverse effects, including addiction, withdrawal symptoms, and, in rare cases, severe complications.

The Science Behind Kratom Addiction

While kratom might seem harmless, it can cause addiction. When consumed, the compounds in kratom bind to opioid receptors in the brain. Over time, and with increased consumption, the brain begins to rely on kratom to function normally. This dependency is where addiction begins.

The Implications of Kratom Dependency

Physical Health Risks:

  • Gastrointestinal Issues:

    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Constipation
  • Liver Damage:

    • Elevated liver enzymes
    • Hepatitis
    • Liver failure (rare)
  • Respiratory Issues:

    • Respiratory depression (in high doses)
    • Difficulty breathing
  • Cardiovascular Effects:

    • Increased heart rate
    • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Neurological Effects:

    • Seizures (reported in some cases)
    • Dizziness
    • Tremors
  • Muscle and Joint Pain:

    • Kratom has been associated with muscle pain and joint pain.
  • Dehydration:

    • Kratom can contribute to dehydration, especially if users don’t consume enough fluids.
  • Weight Loss:

    • Some users may experience weight loss as a side effect of kratom use.
  • Addiction and Dependence:

    • Risk of developing tolerance, dependence, and addiction with prolonged use.
  • Withdrawal Symptoms:

    • Anxiety
    • Irritability
    • Insomnia
    • Muscle aches
  • Impaired Cognitive Function:

    • Confusion
    • Cognitive impairment
  • Interaction with Medications:

    • Kratom may interact with other medications, potentially leading to adverse effects.
  • Contamination Risks:

    • The risk of contamination with harmful substances when using impure or adulterated kratom products

Mental Health Risks:

  • Depression:

    • Prolonged and excessive use of kratom may contribute to depressive symptoms.
  • Anxiety:

    • Some users report increased anxiety or exacerbation of pre-existing anxiety disorders.
  • Psychosis:

    • High doses or prolonged use of kratom may be associated with psychotic symptoms, including hallucinations and delusions.
  • Cognitive Impairment:

    • Kratom use might lead to cognitive deficits, affecting memory and concentration.
  • Mood Swings:

    • Users may experience mood swings, ranging from euphoria to irritability.
  • Sleep Disturbances:

    • Kratom use can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to insomnia or other sleep-related issues.
  • Dependency and Addiction:

    • Regular use of kratom may lead to the development of dependence and addiction, with associated mental health challenges.
  • Withdrawal Symptoms:

    • Abrupt cessation of kratom use can result in withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, anxiety, and mood swings.
  • Suicidal Thoughts:

    • In some cases, kratom use has been linked to an increased risk of suicidal ideation.
  • Agitation and Restlessness:

    • Users may experience heightened agitation and restlessness, affecting mental well-being.
  • Dysphoria:

    • Some individuals report a sense of unease, dissatisfaction, or dysphoria with kratom use.

Social & Professional Risks:

  • Isolation:

    • Excessive use of kratom might lead to social withdrawal and isolation as individuals may prioritize kratom consumption over social interactions.
  • Relationship Strain:

    • Kratom use, especially when it becomes a central focus, can strain relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.
  • Impaired Social Functioning:

    • Chronic kratom use may contribute to impaired social functioning, affecting communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Occupational Issues:

    • Kratom use can lead to difficulties at work, including decreased productivity, absenteeism, or impaired job performance.
  • Financial Strain:

    • Regular purchases of kratom can strain financial resources, leading to economic challenges for individuals and their families.
  • Legal Consequences:

    • Depending on local regulations, the use of kratom may have legal implications, leading to arrests, fines, or other legal consequences.
  • Stigmatization:

    • Kratom use, especially if viewed negatively by society, may lead to social stigmatization, potentially affecting an individual’s reputation.
  • Parental or Family Concerns:

    • Kratom use, particularly if parents or family members disapprove, can result in strained familial relationships and concerns about one’s well-being.
  • Social Alienation:

    • Excessive reliance on kratom may lead to social alienation, as individuals may prioritize its use over engaging in social activities.
  • Loss of Social Support:

    • Chronic kratom use might result in the loss of social support networks as friends and family may distance themselves due to concerns or disagreements about kratom use.

Recognizing Kratom Addiction

Recognizing kratom addiction early is crucial. If you notice symptoms such as increased tolerance, cravings, inability to stop usage despite negative consequences, and withdrawal symptoms, it’s time to seek help. California Prime Recovery offers specialized treatment programs designed to address the unique challenges of overcoming kratom addiction.

Treatment Options

  • Treatment options for kratom addiction may involve a combination of approaches to address physical, psychological, and behavioral aspects of addiction. Here are some common treatment options:

    1. Medical Detoxification:

      • Gradual tapering or medical detox under the supervision of healthcare professionals can help manage withdrawal symptoms associated with kratom cessation.
    2. Behavioral Therapies:

      • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and contingency management are commonly used to address the psychological aspects of addiction, helping individuals identify and change patterns of behavior.
    3. Support Groups:

      • Participating in support groups, such as 12-step programs or non-12-step alternatives, provides individuals with a sense of community and shared experiences, promoting recovery.
    4. Individual Counseling:

      • One-on-one counseling with a mental health professional can address specific issues related to kratom addiction, helping individuals develop coping strategies and set goals for recovery.
    5. Inpatient Rehabilitation:

      • For severe cases of addiction, inpatient rehabilitation in a specialized facility may be necessary. This provides a structured and supportive environment for individuals to focus on recovery.
    6. Outpatient Treatment:

      • Outpatient programs offer flexibility, allowing individuals to receive treatment while maintaining daily responsibilities. These programs may include counseling, therapy, and support group participation.
    7. Holistic Approaches:

      • Incorporating holistic approaches such as mindfulness, yoga, and meditation can contribute to overall well-being and stress reduction during recovery.
    8. Education and Relapse Prevention:

      • Providing education about the risks of kratom use and strategies for relapse prevention is essential for long-term recovery.
    9. Medical Management:

      • Medications may be considered for specific symptoms or co-occurring conditions. However, there are currently no FDA-approved medications specifically for kratom addiction.
    10. Aftercare Planning:

      • Developing a comprehensive aftercare plan is crucial for ongoing support post-treatment. This may include continued therapy, support group participation, and strategies for relapse prevention.

    It’s important for individuals seeking treatment to consult with healthcare professionals to determine the most appropriate and effective treatment plan based on their specific needs and circumstances.

Does Insurance Cover Kratom Addiction Treatment?

Typically, yes. However, the coverage for kratom addiction treatment by insurance can vary based on the specific insurance plan and its policies. Kratom is an herbal substance that has been associated with dependence and addiction, and individuals seeking treatment for kratom addiction may encounter differences in coverage based on their insurance provider.

Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Type of Insurance Plan:

    • Different types of insurance plans, such as private insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare, may have varying levels of coverage for kratom addiction treatment.
  2. In-Network vs. Out-of-Network Providers:

    • Insurance plans often have a network of preferred providers. In-network kratom addiction treatment facilities or providers are generally covered at a higher rate than out-of-network providers.
  3. Verification of Benefits:

    • It is crucial to contact the insurance provider and verify the specific terms of coverage for kratom addiction treatment. This includes checking details such as copayments, deductibles, and any out-of-pocket expenses.
  4. Medical Necessity and Preauthorization:

    • Insurance coverage for kratom addiction treatment may be contingent on a determination of medical necessity. Preauthorization or approval from the insurance company may be required before entering a treatment program.
  5. Level of Care:

    • Different levels of addiction treatment, such as inpatient, outpatient, or detoxification services, may have different coverage considerations. Some insurance plans may cover certain levels of care more comprehensively.
  6. Length of Treatment:

    • Insurance coverage may be influenced by the length of the kratom addiction treatment program. Some plans may have limitations on the number of days covered, while others may provide more extensive coverage for longer durations.
  7. Parity Laws:

    • Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) in the United States requires insurance plans to offer coverage for substance use disorder services, including kratom addiction treatment, at levels comparable to medical and surgical coverage.
  8. Crisis or Emergency Situations:

    • In cases of immediate need or crisis, insurance plans may cover kratom addiction treatment as part of emergency services. However, it is essential to follow up with the insurance provider for ongoing coverage considerations.
  9. Appeals Process:

    • If an insurance claim for kratom addiction treatment is denied, individuals have the right to appeal the decision. The appeals process allows for a review of the denial, and successful appeals can result in coverage being granted.
  10. Out-of-Pocket Expenses:

    • Even with insurance coverage, individuals may still have out-of-pocket expenses, such as copayments or coinsurance. Understanding these costs is essential for financial planning.

It’s advisable for individuals seeking kratom addiction treatment to work closely with their insurance provider and the treatment facility’s admissions team to understand the specific terms of coverage. Additionally, seeking assistance from the treatment facility’s insurance coordinator can provide valuable support in verifying benefits and understanding the insurance process.

Seeking Treatment? We Can Help!

At California Prime Recovery, as an in-network provider we work with most insurance plans, such as:

If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health challenges or substance abuse, reach out to California Prime Recovery today. Our team of compassionate professionals is here to support your journey towards lasting well-being. Give us a call at 866-208-2390

FAQ's

Kratom is legal in many states in the U.S., but its legality varies by country and it is illegal in some U.S. states and municipalities.

There is ongoing research on the medicinal properties of kratom, particularly for managing chronic pain and opioid withdrawal symptoms, but it is not FDA-approved for any medical use.

Symptoms of kratom use can include increased energy, talkativeness, and social behavior, as well as sedation, nausea, constipation, and changes in appetite.

Withdrawal symptoms can include muscle aches, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggression, emotional changes, and runny nose.

Yes, kratom addiction is treatable. California Prime Recovery offers a range of treatment options tailored to the individual’s specific needs and circumstances.

Kratom has been one of the recent substances touted as an all-natural alternative to pain relief drugs, but that’s only one side of the story. The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) has listed it as a drug of concern due to a significant increase in abuse of Kratom in recent years.

Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT

What Is Kratom?

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a plant that is found in Southeast Asia. It is used to treat various problems such as pain relief, stress reduction and as a relaxant. The leaves are chewed, or dried, and crushed into powder to make tea to fight tiredness. Kratom is sometimes sold in liquid form as a treatment to stop diarrhea and cramps. However, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has not approved medical uses for Kratom.

Kratom can be effective in relieving pain because it contains mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine, which act on opioid receptors in the brain. However, it is a unique plant, and is not regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, so the dosage has different effects and impacts on the body. 

For instance, when consumed at a low rate, it boosts energy as a stimulant; at a higher rate, it alleviates pain, while at a very high rate, it acts as a sedative, and can induce psychotic symptoms, similar to some opioids. Due to this reason, the potential for abuse of Kratom is high, leading to the FDA ordering seizure and destruction of any products containing Kratom.

Types and Dosages

Types of Kratom:

Kratom strains are often categorized by the color of the veins in their leaves, and each color is associated with different effects. Common strains include:

  1. Red Vein Kratom:

    • Often associated with relaxation and pain relief.
    • Examples include Red Bali, Red Thai, and Red Maeng Da.
  2. Green Vein Kratom:

    • Tends to have a more balanced effect, providing energy and mild pain relief.
    • Examples include Green Malay, Green Thai, and Green Maeng Da.
  3. White Vein Kratom:

    • Often considered more stimulating and energizing.
    • Examples include White Bali, White Thai, and White Maeng Da.
  4. Maeng Da Kratom:

    • Known for its potency and may have energizing or pain-relieving effects.

Dosages of Kratom:

Dosages of kratom can vary, and the effects are influenced by factors such as individual sensitivity, tolerance, and the specific strain of kratom. It’s crucial to start with a low dose and assess individual response. Keep in mind that the following dosages are general guidelines and may not be suitable for everyone:

  1. Low Dose (1-2 grams):

    • Mild stimulant effects.
    • Increased alertness and energy.
  2. Moderate Dose (2-4 grams):

    • Balanced effects, combining stimulation and relaxation.
    • Enhanced mood and focus.
  3. High Dose (4-6 grams):

    • More sedative and analgesic effects.
    • Increased risk of adverse effects.
  4. Very High Dose (6 grams and above):

    • Sedative effects may dominate.
    • Increased risk of side effects, including nausea and dizziness.

It’s important to note that individual responses to kratom can vary, and there is a lack of standardized dosing guidelines.

Uses

Some reported uses of kratom include:

  1. Pain Relief:

    • Kratom contains alkaloids that may have analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. It has been traditionally used by some communities for managing pain.
  2. Energy and Stimulation:

    • Certain strains of kratom, especially those with white veins, are believed to have stimulant effects, providing increased energy and alertness.
  3. Relaxation and Stress Reduction:

    • Other strains, such as those with red veins, are thought to have more relaxing and sedative effects, potentially aiding in stress reduction and relaxation.
  4. Mood Enhancement:

    • Users sometimes report enhanced mood and a sense of well-being after consuming kratom.
  5. Opioid Withdrawal Support:

    • Some individuals have used kratom as a means to self-manage opioid withdrawal symptoms. However, it’s crucial to note that using kratom for this purpose can be risky and may lead to dependence on kratom itself.
  6. Focus and Cognitive Enhancement:

    • Certain kratom strains are believed to improve focus and cognitive function.
  7. Social Interaction:

    • Some users report that kratom enhances sociability and can be used in social settings.

Onset and Duration

Onset of Effects:

  • Oral Consumption (Toss and Wash, Capsules):

    • Onset typically occurs within 15 to 30 minutes.
    • Effects may continue to develop gradually over the next 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Tea Preparation:

    • Effects may start within 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the individual and the preparation method.
  • Sublingual (Placing Kratom under the Tongue):

    • Onset can be faster, often within 5 to 15 minutes.

Duration of Effects:

  • Stimulant Effects:

    • Typically last for about 2 to 4 hours.
  • Sedative and Analgesic Effects:

    • May last for 4 to 6 hours or longer.
  • Overall Duration:

    • The overall duration of effects can vary, with some users reporting lingering mood-enhancing effects even after the primary effects have diminished.

It’s important to emphasize that these are general guidelines, and individual responses to kratom can vary. The effects may be influenced by factors such as body weight, metabolism, tolerance, and the specific strain of kratom consumed.

Legal Status

The legal status of kratom varies significantly across different countries, states, and regions. As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, here is a general overview of the legal status of kratom:

United States:

  • The legality of kratom varies by state. Some states have banned or regulated the sale and use of kratom, while others have not imposed restrictions. It’s essential to check the specific laws in the state where you reside.

Canada:

  • Kratom is legal for personal use in Canada. However, it is not approved for human consumption, and the sale of kratom for consumption is prohibited. The regulations surrounding kratom can vary by province.

United Kingdom:

  • In the UK, kratom is legal for personal use, and it is not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act. However, it is essential to stay informed about any potential changes in regulations.

Australia:

  • The legal status of kratom in Australia varies by state. In some states, it is classified as a controlled substance, while in others, it may be legal for personal use.

European Union:

  • The legal status of kratom in EU member states can vary. Some countries have banned or regulated its sale and use, while others have not imposed restrictions.

Asia:

  • In countries where kratom is indigenous, such as Thailand and Malaysia, the legal status can vary. Some regions have banned or restricted its use, while others have traditional and cultural acceptance.

It’s important to note that the legal status of kratom is subject to change.

Where is Kratom Purchased?

Here are common sources where kratom is purchased:

  1. Specialty Shops:

    • Some specialty shops, including herbal stores and smoke shops, may carry kratom products. However, the quality and reliability of products from these shops can vary.
  2. Online Vendors:

    • Many people purchase kratom online from dedicated vendors. Numerous websites offer a variety of kratom strains and products. It’s essential to research and choose reputable vendors with good reviews.
  3. Health and Wellness Stores:

    • In regions where kratom is legal, certain health and wellness stores may stock kratom products. These establishments might offer capsules, powders, or other forms of kratom.
  4. Head Shops:

    • Some head shops, which sell smoking accessories and herbal products, may carry kratom. As with specialty shops, the quality of products can vary.
  5. Ethnobotanical Shops:

    • Ethnobotanical shops, focusing on traditional and medicinal plants, may include kratom in their product offerings.

When purchasing kratom, it’s crucial to consider the following:

  • Quality Assurance: Look for vendors who provide information about the source, quality testing, and purity of their kratom products.

  • Strain Variety: Different strains of kratom can have varying effects. Reputable vendors often offer a variety of strains, such as red, green, and white veins.

  • Reviews and Reputation: Check customer reviews and the overall reputation of the vendor. Reliable vendors are transparent about their products and customer experiences.

  • Legal Status: Be aware of the legal status of kratom in your area. Regulations may vary, and kratom may be prohibited or restricted in some regions.

What is Kratom Withdrawal?

Kratom withdrawal refers to a set of symptoms that individuals may experience when they abruptly stop or reduce their regular kratom use after developing dependence. Kratom contains alkaloids that interact with opioid receptors in the brain, and regular use can lead to tolerance, physical dependence, and withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to note that kratom withdrawal can vary among individuals, and the severity and duration of symptoms may depend on factors such as the level of dependence, dosage, and individual differences. Here are some facts about kratom withdrawal:

1. Onset of Withdrawal:

  • Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within 24 hours after the last dose of kratom. The onset may vary based on the strain and dosage used.

2. Duration of Withdrawal:

  • Kratom withdrawal symptoms can last for a week or longer, with the intensity gradually decreasing over time. The duration may be influenced by factors such as individual metabolism and the extent of dependence.

3. Common Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Withdrawal symptoms may include anxiety, irritability, muscle aches, runny nose, sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, and mood swings.

4. Psychological Symptoms:

  • Kratom withdrawal can also involve psychological symptoms such as depression, cravings, and difficulty concentrating.

5. Dependence and Tolerance:

  • Regular use of kratom can lead to the development of tolerance, where higher doses are needed to achieve the same effects. Dependence can occur, leading to withdrawal symptoms if kratom use is stopped or reduced.

6. Individual Variability:

  • The severity of withdrawal symptoms can vary widely among individuals. Some may experience mild symptoms, while others may have a more challenging withdrawal experience.

7. Medical Attention:

  • While kratom withdrawal is generally not considered life-threatening, it can be uncomfortable. In severe cases or if complications arise, seeking medical attention is advisable.

8. Tapering:

  • Gradual tapering of kratom use under medical supervision may help reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Abrupt cessation can increase the intensity of withdrawal.

Risks and Side Effects of Kratom

Many people think Kratom is safe because it is natural, but research has shown that it poses a great danger to the human body and can cause death in extreme cases. This is because it contains potent ingredients, so you need to consult an expert or a doctor before taking it.

Here are some reported short-term and long-term effects associated with kratom use:

Short-Term Side Effects:

  1. Stimulant Effects:

    • Increased energy
    • Enhanced alertness
    • Improved mood
  2. Sedative Effects:

    • Relaxation
    • Calmness
    • Pain relief
  3. Opioid-Like Effects:

    • Euphoria
    • Analgesia (pain relief)
    • Cough suppression
  4. Adverse Effects:

    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Sweating
    • Dizziness
    • Itching
    • Dry mouth
  5. Psychological Effects:

    • Altered perception
    • Increased sociability
    • Anxiety or irritability in some cases

Long-Term Side Effects:

  1. Tolerance:

    • Regular use of kratom can lead to the development of tolerance, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effects.
  2. Dependence:

    • Some individuals may develop physical dependence on kratom, experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it.
  3. Withdrawal Symptoms:

    • Withdrawal symptoms may include irritability, anxiety, muscle aches, runny nose, sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, and mood swings.
  4. Gastrointestinal Issues:

    • Long-term use has been associated with constipation and other gastrointestinal issues.
  5. Liver Effects:

    • There have been reports of hepatotoxicity (liver damage) associated with kratom use, although the causative factors are not well understood.
  6. Cognitive Effects:

    • Cognitive impairment or difficulty concentrating has been reported in some cases.
  7. Dependency and Addiction:

    • Some individuals may develop psychological dependence on kratom, leading to compulsive use despite negative consequences.

The Interaction Between Kratom and Other Substances

Kratom contains powerful ingredients, so combining it with another substance may worsen its effect. For example, consuming it with sedatives or coffee could cause respiratory problems. Research has also shown that the interaction between Kratom and other drugs can cause severe damage, so it is advisable to meet a doctor to get the appropriate dosage.

Seeking Treatment? We Can Help!

At California Prime Recovery, as an in-network provider we work with most insurance plans, such as:

If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health challenges or substance abuse, reach out to California Prime Recovery today. Our team of compassionate professionals is here to support your journey towards lasting well-being. Give us a call at 866-208-2390

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