Causes & Effects of Kratom Abuse

Understanding Kratom Abuse

Learn about kratom abuse

Kratom is a controversial, plant-based drug that has a long history of use in Asia for its ability to provide energy, enhance mood, and decrease various health ailments for those who consume it. Depending on the size of the dose and the frequency of use, this drug could provide intensely euphoric or sedative effects, and despite the fact that it has been safely consumed by many in minimal amounts over the years, its pleasing effects mean that, like all mind- and mood-altering substances, it does carry a potential for abuse.

In recent years, kratom was made available in powder or capsule form in the United States, and up until 2016 was legally available for purchase in places like head shops across the country. However, now the drug has been temporarily classified as a schedule one illegal substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), meaning that the substance can no longer be obtained legally.

Government and health officials warn users of the dangers of kratom abuse, but some have remained critical of the ban on this substance. For example, research scientists say that the drug held promise for individuals who wished to end their dependence on opioids. This is due to the fact that while kratom contains no opioids, it interacts with the same receptors in the brain as opioid-based substances.

But as is the case with drugs like legal prescription painkillers or illegal substances of abuse, individuals who abuse kratom may face many damaging consequences that can require professional help to overcome.

If a chemical dependence on kratom or any other substance of abuse takes hold, look no further than Duffy’s Napa Valley Rehab in California. Our expert staff is best equipped to provide you or a loved one with the support, guidance, and skills you need to take back control of your future and free yourself from a life of kratom abuse.


Kratom abuse statistics

A recent study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicated that kratom use is certainly on the rise. In fact, the number of calls to the CDC related to kratom increased tenfold from 26 in 2010 to 263 in 2015, most of which were from medical personnel.

Many calls indicated that an individual had been exposed to kratom in combination with other substances of abuse, most notably ethanol, other botanicals, benzodiazepines, narcotics, and acetaminophen. Given this marked rise in use, more research and education is needed to help the general public better understand the risks associated with kratom abuse.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for kratom abuse

The causes and risk factors for developing an addiction to kratom can include genetic and environmental factors. Please consider the following:

Genetic: Experts agree that there are certain heritable or genetic traits that might make one more susceptible to addiction. If a close relative like a sibling or parent also struggles with addiction, you may be more likely to abuse kratom or other substances.

Environmental: If you are surrounded by other individuals who abuse drugs or alcohol, especially in your early formative years, this form of dysfunctional behavior may become normalized to you, thus increasing the likelihood that you may engage in substance abuse yourself.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of substance abuse and addiction
  • Having an impulsive temperament
  • Beginning to abuse substances at an early age
  • Being around other people who abuse kratom or other substances
  • Ease of access to kratom
  • Suffering from an untreated mental health condition

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of kratom abuse

The signs and symptoms that you or someone you care about has become addicted to kratom will vary based on how much of the substance is being consumed, the frequency of the use, and the overall length of time the drug has been abused. The following symptoms are typical of someone who is abusing kratom:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Trying but being unsuccessful at stopping one’s use of kratom
  • Using kratom in greater amounts and over a longer period of time than intended
  • Using kratom when it’s physically hazardous to do so
  • Spending a great deal of time trying to get, use, and recover from the use of kratom
  • Wanting to stop using kratom, but being unable to do so
  • Failing to uphold personal responsibilities due to the use of kratom
  • Preferring to use kratom over engaging in once enjoyable activities
  • Using kratom despite knowing that it has caused problems within one’s life

Physical symptoms:

  • Increased energy (when taken in smaller doses)
  • Sedation (when taken in larger doses)
  • Tolerance for kratom
  • Experiencing withdrawal when not able to use kratom or when trying to stop using this drug

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Cravings for kratom

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Oscillating moods
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Emotional detachment from others
  • Depressed mood


Effects of kratom abuse

As is the case with any form of substance use disorder, left untreated, a kratom addiction will cause numerous damages to the affected individual. When a substance of abuse becomes the focal point of your life, all once-important aspects may soon fall by the wayside. But by obtaining kratom-specific treatment at a quality, professional treatment center, the following negative outcomes can be overcome or avoided altogether:

  • Damages to one’s physical health
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Lack of interest in personal hygiene
  • Sleep loss or irregular sleep habits
  • Rapid and unpredictable mood swings
  • Increased propensity to engage in risk-taking behaviors
  • Job loss or financial hardship
  • Conflict in important relationships with friends and family
  • Legal problems

Dual Diagnosis

Kratom abuse and dual diagnosis

Often, a person who abuses kratom or other mind- and mood-altering substances does so in an attempt to self-medicate the pain of an untreated mental illness. In clinical terms, a person who is dealing with chemical dependency and another mental health disorder is referred to as having dual diagnosis. The following are examples of disorders that may accompany kratom abuse:

  • Tobacco use disorder
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders

Many people who need care for dual diagnosis don’t realize that they’re struggling with multiple disorders. This is why it’s so important to get help for kratom abuse at a center that offers dual diagnosis programming. If you need, but don’t get, effective dual diagnosis care, you may find it extremely difficult to end your kratom abuse.

Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of kratom withdrawal and overdose

Effects of kratom withdrawal: A person who abruptly limits or ceases his or her use of kratom after habitually abusing the substance will face withdrawal symptoms that can range from mild discomfort to considerably painful. While no two people will have the exact same withdrawal experience, some of the most typical withdrawal symptoms are listed below:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Kratom cravings
  • Difficulty feeling pleasure
  • Hostility
  • Uncontrollable jerky movements
  • Muscle and bone aches
  • Uncharacteristic aggression
  • Runny nose
  • Psychotic episodes including hallucinations, confusion, and delusions in rare cases

Effects of kratom overdose: When a person consumes more kratom than his or her body can process, the result can be extreme discomfort. While instances of overdose on kratom alone are largely undocumented, if the substance has been laced with other harmful ingredients, consuming too much could possibly pose a medical emergency. If you or someone else has been abusing kratom and begins showing any of the following signs, seek immediate medical care:

  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Seizure
  • Drowsiness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Agitation
  • Coma


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