How Long Does Kratom Withdrawal Last?
Kratom is a psychoactive botanical substance derived from the Mitragyna speciosa tree that grows natively in South Asia. Historically, its leaves have been processed and consumed for medicinal purposes in the form of a pill, capsule, extract, or tea. Kratom, which is often referred to by names like “biak” or “katum,” remains an unscheduled drug in the U.S. As of 2020, kratom remains legal to cultivate and sell in most states and it is relatively easy to purchase online. Kratom found online may be in the form of a powder in packages misleadingly marked “not for human consumption.”1,2
Kratom’s effects may be felt quickly, within 5 to 10 minutes of taking it. However, the duration of effects may be relatively long, persisting anywhere between 2 to 5 hours.3 Depending on the dose, the effects of kratom are similar to either stimulants or opioids:1
- At lower doses, one may experience a boost in energy, increased sociability, and improved alertness.
- As doses increase, the drug may be more sedating, while eliciting feelings of pleasure and reduced sensations of pain.
Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms
Physical dependence is a phenomenon in which a person’s body becomes used to the presence of a drug. Without that drug, a dependent individual may feel abnormal and could experience withdrawal symptoms.1 Kratom withdrawal symptoms may include:1,4
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Mood changes.
- Feelings of dissatisfaction with life.
- Irritability, hostility, or aggression.
- Aching muscles.
- Joint pain.
- Runny nose.
- Hot flashes.
- Jerky movements of the extremities.
Why Quit Kratom?
As with many psychoactive substances, kratom can adversely affect your health and well-being. Kratom use may have some negative side effects that include:1,5
- Dry mouth.
- Appetite loss.
- Elevated blood pressure.
- Fast heart rate.
- Increased need to urinate.
Specific health effects associated with chronic and high-dose use of kratom can include:3,4
- Darkening of the skin.
- Anorexia/weight loss.
Legal Does Not Mean Safe
Kratom was first cultivated in Asia, where its first recorded use as a medicinal substance dates back to at least 1836. Its popular use in the United States is much more recent, having become more widespread only in the last 20 years or so.2
The way it is marketed can make it dangerous. It is often described as an herbal medicine/supplement to treat a variety of ailments including pain, mental health symptoms, and opioid withdrawal. It is also sold as a “legal” or “natural” high, an alternative to traditional opioids. While people may think this makes kratom safe, they may be unaware of the health risks—including the potential for heightened toxicity and even death when consumed with certain other drugs and medications.2
Kratom is also largely unregulated, and users—especially those that procure the drug online or via the dark net—may be exposed to adulterated kratom containing unknown and potentially dangerous substances.1,2
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration believes kratom to be sufficiently concerning that it issued a warning to consumers not to use kratom and stated that kratom may “expose users to the risks of addiction, abuse, and dependence” due to its action on the brain’s opioid receptors.6
How to Get Off Kratom
Kratom withdrawal may certainly be uncomfortable; however, people generally don’t seek detox or rehab for kratom abuse alone. They may, however, require addiction treatment if they are using kratom as a way to ease opioid withdrawal or if kratom is part of a larger pattern of uncontrollable substance use.
There’s not much clinical research on medications to treat kratom withdrawal, but one case study reports successful treatment with buprenorphine, an opioid agonist medication commonly used to treat opioid use disorder.7 Another case study reported success with clonidine therapy and scheduled hydroxyzine, both used to provide relief from the symptoms of withdrawal from other substances.8 However, more research is needed to confirm the benefits of these medications for kratom dependence.
How To Ease Kratom Withdrawal
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, some people find behavioral therapy to be helpful for those who are abusing kratom alone or with other drugs.1 Behavioral therapy is one of the most researched forms of treating opioid use disorder and other types of addiction. It includes modalities such as:9
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing unhelpful and negative thoughts and behaviors.
- Contingency management, which provides rewards for making positive changes.
- 12-step facilitation therapy, which is designed to help people actively engage in 12-step groups (such as Narcotics Anonymous) to promote sobriety.
Does Kratom Help with Opiate Withdrawal?
Since kratom interacts with opioid receptors and has some opioid effects at certain doses, it is sometimes marketed as a way to ease the pain of opioid withdrawal. However, kratom may not be the miracle cure that some opioid users are led to believe. Consider that:10,11
- There’s no current research to validate claims that it manages opioid withdrawal as effectively as more standard treatments.
- Kratom has its own withdrawal syndrome.
- Kratom can have unpleasant health effects and, should it be laced with other substances, may be deadly. It may also cause serious drug-herb interactions for those on medications.
While it’s tempting to turn to an herb to avoid the pain of withdrawal, the safest way to address physical dependence on opioids is to seek medical care. In a supervised medical detox program, FDA-approved medications may be given to you to ease the pain of your symptoms while you also receive comfort medications and around-the-clock medical monitoring in case you have immediate health concerns. At Recovery First, we provide such a program. To learn how we can help you detox from opioids safely and effectively, call us at .