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What Are The Side Effects Of Kratom Abuse?

You may have seen kratom in health stores, convenience stores, smoke shops, or local farmers’ markets. While the substance is legal at the federal level, many states have enacted laws at the state level to make kratom an illegal controlled substance. The substance is legal to sell, possess, and use here in Georgia. However, there have been a growing number of people seeking help at our addiction treatment center in Atlanta. So, it is understandable to want to know more about this substance and the side effects of kratom. 

What is Kratom?

Kratom is sold as an herbal extract made from the Mitragyna speciosa evergreen tree found in Southeast Asia. The leaves are dried and ground into a powder that can be made into an herbal tea. Liquid kratom extract is also made using processes to remove various chemical compounds from the leaves.

In addition, there are various strains and sub-strains of the substance which can determine the color of the powder or extract. The most common colors are green, white, and red. 

Why Do People Misuse Kratom?

People misuse kratom because they do not fully understand the potent properties of the substance. Research about kratom is still relatively new, so the long-term effects of misusing kratom are still not entirely certain.

However, there is sufficient evidence to understand how kratom affects those that use it. When used in low dosages, the substance functions similar to a stimulant. The person can feel energized, have a reduced appetite, and experience a higher sense of focus and concentration. For those that misuse kratom regularly, the effects of kratom are similar to those of cocaine.

When higher dosages of kratom as taken, the substance reacts with the opioid receptors in the brain. People can experience a euphoric-like state and notice a decrease in pain. This is because the substance causes chemical reactions in the brain similar to those caused by opioids. 

Is Kratom Really Addictive?

Continued use of kratom alters the brain’s chemistry as other addictive substances, such as increasing the release of endorphins and serotonin. As a result, the elevated levels of these natural “feel good” chemicals can reinforce kratom abuse because the brain initially remembers the sensations as desirable behaviors. So, as the brain’s chemistry changes, it will start to crave kratom more often. 

Dangers and Side Effects of Kratom Abuse

Even though kratom is sold as a natural herbal extract, the potential for abuse is significant. One danger of kratom is you do not know what other chemicals and substances are used when making the powder or liquid extracts. In addition, some manufacturers can use chemicals dangerous for human consumption or even pesticides. 

Another dangerous side effect of kratom abuse is accidental overdoses and deaths. At very high levels, the chemicals in this substance take on the effects of a powerful sedative. As a result, breathing and heart rate slow down and can stop. Even at lower levers, kratom can elevate the heart rate and cause heart attacks and strokes. 

Furthermore, chronic kratom abuse can cause liver damage and kidney damage in as little as two weeks. The longer the substance is abused, the more severe the damages, leading to liver failure and kidney failure. 

Additionally, since the substance can cause reactions as a stimulant, an opioid, or a sedative, you do not know how kratom will affect you when you take it. One time you could experience stimulant-like effects, and another time sedative-like effects. When combined with alcohol or other substances, there is the potential for serious adverse drug interactions that could cause seizures, coma, and death. 

Other known side effects of kratom abuse include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Uncontrolled sweating
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive weight loss

How to Treat Kratom Addiction

As you can imagine, struggling with kratom addiction puts your life at risk each time you misuse the substance. Unfortunately, you never know if this one time will be the time you have a severe adverse reaction or accidentally overdose.

The first step to recovery is to undergo kratom detox to cleanse the body of the substance. Withdrawal symptoms occur within about 12 hours after you stop using kratom. The longer a person goes without kratom, the more intense the withdrawal symptoms become. 

Therefore, supervised detox is a must for kratom addiction treatment to minimalize the withdrawal symptoms and help you safely through detox. Most people notice the withdrawal symptoms start to subside in about a week or two.

However, cravings can continue for several months or longer, depending on how long you have abused kratom and the dosage amounts. Post-detox, you should transition to an intensive outpatient or partial hospitalization program to get the care and support you need to reduce the risks of kratom lapses and relapses. 

Kratom Detox and Addiction Treatment in Atlanta, GA

When you are ready to start your recovery journey and kick your kratom addiction, help is available at Buckhead Behavioral Health in Atlanta, GA. We offer personalized kratom rehab and adults. To learn more about our kratom detox and addiction treatment programs, or to speak with an intake specialist, visit our admissions page today. 

author review

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Rahul Gupta, MD

Written by: Erika Dalton, LMSW
Updated on January 9, 2023
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