The Dangerous Addictiveness Of Kratom Drinks
When struggling with pain, poor mental health, or opioid withdrawal, some people turn to kratom drinks. These beverages have long been used as traditional medicine in certain countries, including Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
However, the drinks have not been proven as safe or effective for treating any medical condition. In fact, they pose a number of health risks, including substance use disorder (addiction).
What Are Kratom Drinks?
Kratom drinks are drinks that contain kratom leaves. Kratom is a tree native to Southeast Asia. It’s also known as Mitragyna speciosa. Some people make kratom drinks using kratom powder, which is made from crushed kratom leaves. Other people brew the leaves as a tea.
Kratom leaves contain a variety of chemical compounds that impact your body, including mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine.
These two chemicals act on your body’s opioid receptors. That’s why kratom can have opioid-like effects, including relaxation and pain relief, especially at high doses. At low doses, it can have stimulant effects, such as increased energy and concentration.
Like opioids and stimulants, kratom can cause health problems, including addiction.
The Addictiveness Of Kratom Drinks
Studies suggest that people who regularly consume kratom drinks (or other kratom products) may become addicted to them.
According to a 2022 study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, 29.5% of kratom users develop symptoms of kratom addiction (also called kratom use disorder), including physical dependence and tolerance.
Physical dependence means your body starts relying on kratom drinks to function normally. If you stop drinking them, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may be both physical and psychological.
The most common physical withdrawal symptoms associated with kratom include:
- nausea and vomiting
- stomach pain
- watery eyes
- runny nose
- uncontrolled limb movements
The most common psychological withdrawal symptoms associated with kratom include:
- frequent cravings for kratom
Tolerance means your body gets used to the effects of kratom drinks over time. You will then need increasingly larger or more frequent drinks to feel the desired effects.
The more kratom you use, the higher your risk of tolerance. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to limit the amount of kratom you consume. That’s because kratom drinks and other kratom products are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
As a result, they may contain larger amounts of kratom than the packaging claims.
Other symptoms of kratom addiction may include:
- feeling unable to limit or stop your kratom consumption
- frequent cravings for kratom
- loss of interest in activities that don’t involve kratom
- mood swings
Risks Of Kratom Addiction
When left untreated, kratom addiction can cause a variety of unpleasant side effects, including:
- nausea and vomiting
- dry mouth
- increased urination
- increased heart rate
- high blood pressure
- slow breathing
- unhealthy weight loss
- insomnia (trouble sleeping)
- liver damage
Some kratom users also experience psychosis.
Psychosis is a mental health problem that makes you feel disconnected from reality.
Common symptoms include confusion, paranoia (feeling irrationally distrustful of others), delusions (holding beliefs that aren’t based in reality), and hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t there).
In addition, because kratom drinks are not regulated, they may contain contaminants, including Salmonella. Common signs of Salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. In severe cases, this infection can be deadly.
Kratom can also contribute to fatal overdoses. In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that kratom was involved in 91 overdose deaths.
Although most of these deaths also involved other drugs, kratom was the only substance identified in seven of them.
Kratom Addiction Treatment
If you or someone you love feels unable to control your use of kratom, seek help at an addiction treatment program. These programs offer a variety of evidence-based treatments, including:
- medical detox, in which doctors help you manage withdrawal symptoms as you stop using kratom
- behavioral therapy, in which a mental health professional helps you manage kratom cravings and any mental health concerns that may have led you to try kratom in the first place
- support groups, in which you can discuss your challenges, triumphs, and coping skills with other people recovering from addiction
Some treatment programs are outpatient, meaning you live at home and regularly visit a treatment center. These programs work best for people with mild addictions and strong support systems at home.
Other treatment programs are inpatient, meaning you live at a treatment center and receive 24/7 care. These programs are typically recommended for people with moderate-to-severe addictions or co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression or PTSD.
Your doctor can help you determine which type of treatment program is right for you.
To learn more about kratom addiction treatment, please reach out to Bedrock Recovery Center. Our board-certified healthcare providers offer personalized, comprehensive care to help you or your loved one thrive.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Infections Linked to Kratom (Final Update) https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/kratom-02-18/index.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Notes from the Field: Unintentional Drug Overdose Deaths with Kratom Detected — 27 States, July 2016–December 2017 https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/wr/mm6814a2.htm?s_cid=mm6814a2_x
- Harvard Health Publishing — Kratom: Fear-worthy foliage or beneficial botanical? https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/kratom-fear-worthy-foliage-or-beneficial-botanical-2019080717466
- Journal of Addiction Medicine — Assessment of Kratom Use Disorder and Withdrawal Among an Online Convenience Sample of US Adults https://journals.lww.com/journaladdictionmedicine/Abstract/2022/11000/Assessment_of_Kratom_Use_Disorder_and_Withdrawal.15.aspx
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — Kratom https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/kratom
- National Library of Medicine: PubMed — Kratom Use and Toxicities in the United States https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31099038/