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Struggling with opioid addiction or dependence is never easy. Aside from the financial cost, it can cost relationships and friendships and your health.

Maybe you’re ready to live substance-free but don’t want to deal with the awful withdrawals from opiates. This may make you consider taking kratom.

There are scores of people that say kratom for opiate withdrawal is the way to go. They often don’t tell you the whole truth about this supplement.

We’re going to take an honest look at kratom and if it can truly help stop your opioid dependence or addiction. Keep reading to find out more!

What Is Kratom?

Kratom is an evergreen tree that is found in a few Southeast Asia countries, particularly Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea. The leaves of this tree can be used by drying and smoking, chewing, drinking a tea, or forming it into tablets or capsules.

It has been used for years in these countries as a stimulant in smaller doses, but some places have made the use of kratom illegal. In the United States, it is also used for energy, but more often as an alternative to pain medication and to treat opiate withdrawal.

Other names for kratom include Biak, Ketum, Thom, and Ithang.

Is Kratom Legal?

Kratom is widely available–and legal. In the majority of the U.S., this supplement can still be found and purchased easily and legally. However, there are some states as well as certain cities that have banned the use and sale of kratom.

The states that you cannot purchase the supplement legally include:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Indiana
  • Vermont
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington D.C.
  • Wisconson

A few other areas have followed suit on banning kratom. The cities of San Diego (CA,) Denver (CO,) and Jerseyville (IL,) and Sarasota County (FL) have all found reason to remove the supplement from stores.

Multiple states that have kept kratom legal have enacted stricter laws for purchase. Usually, these come in the form of age requirements of 18+ or 21+.

Federal Opinions

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) have drawn slightly different conclusions about kratom. These agencies have found that it does, in fact, simulate opiates and that there are a number of compounds that mimic those found in prescription opioids.

While the DEA has listed kratom as a “drug of concern,” the FDA has warned that kratom is dangerous and to seek medical attention for addiction or dependency problems. Many people believe it is a matter of time before the DEA lists kratom as a Schedule 1 drug, making it illegal in all states.

If you’re wondering why the debate on kratom, it’s because it has been linked to approximately 44 deaths. The number of calls to poison control centers has also increased 10 times from 2010 to 2015.

Kratom for Opiate Withdrawal

Many people believe that kratom will help relieve symptoms of opiate withdrawal. This may be true for some. However, the decision is split on its usefulness.

Kratom is legal in certain areas and you don’t need a prescription to obtain it, so what’s the problem? The problem is that this supplement is still addictive and acts on the brain similarly to opiates.

This supplement may not cause the same level of insanity as an opiate addiction, but you will begin to see it affecting your life. You’ll also have the same constipation and itching as you do with your drug of choice.

Kratom may be just as addictive as opiates. This means that after long-term use, drug-seeking behavior will return and the person taking it will continue regardless of consequence. Some of the more serious consequences include psychosis, seizures, and anorexia.

If you’re using a supplement or drug that mimics an opiate you’re trying to quit, you will have withdrawal symptoms from it. The symptoms may be less severe, but they will still occur.

What to Expect When Quitting Kratom

Because kratom affects the brain similarly to the way opiates do, you will have similar withdrawal symptoms when quitting. Like withdrawal from other drugs, kratom has a pretty standard timeline.

Extended effects have not been documented. Other people have noticed lasting symptoms.

The first symptoms you will encounter when quitting kratom will be about 24 hours after the last dose. Symptoms can include intense cravings for the supplement, muscle aches, tremors or jerky movements, sleep problems, fever, and a runny nose.

Although “post-acute withdrawal syndrome” (PAWS) has not been documented with kratom, people with a history of opioid dependence could experience prolonged withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may include changes in mood, signs of depression, feelings of anxiety, irritability, and hostile behavior.

As with any detox or withdrawal, there is a risk of relapse or further complications. Kratom withdrawal is not necessarily considered dangerous, but it can create further problems.

The biggest of these two problems are breathing and dehydration. Breathing can become impaired if vomit is inhaled or it may cause issues in the lungs. Dehydration can occur from loss of fluids–either excessive vomiting or diarrhea.

You can expect the worst of these symptoms to last about 7 to 10 days.

Your Best Bet

To sum things up, if you’re addicted to any type of opiate, the best idea will be to seek treatment. At a recovery center, the doctors and staff will be able to medically detox you and offer the therapeutic support you need.

Addictions, triggering events and situations, and education on your diagnosis will all be addressed. There will be counseling to help you come to terms with decisions you’ve made and you will learn how to live life on life’s terms without the abuse of drugs.

As a whole, kratom might not be for you if you’ve previously dealt with addiction or dependence. Kratom for opiate withdrawal may place you back into your original addiction or cause a cross-addiction to the supplement.

If you’ve already started your journey to living opiate-free with the use of kratom, consider tapering off, look into a medical detox, or contact us when you’re ready for help.