Kratom: Abuse & Addiction In Ohio

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on December 10, 2022

Kratom is a natural drug with stimulant and opioid-like properties. It is not regulated on the federal level, but authorities have cautioned that it has no official safe uses and may be hazardous to consume in high doses or in combination with other drugs of abuse.

The natural drug kratom possesses an unusual and interesting combination of properties. 

However, the drug was nearly classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in 2016 and is currently illegal in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. It is also widely regulated in other US states.

What Is Kratom?

Kratom refers to the leaves of a species of tropical evergreen tree known scientifically as Mitragyna speciosa korth. 

Also referred to as thang, kakuam, thom, ketum, krypton, and biak, kratom is a member of the coffee family and grows in Southeast Asia (especially Thailand and Malaysia) and Africa.

Kratom leaves contain a variety of natural substances, including the alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which have unusual psychoactive properties at various doses. 

These leaves have a history of use in traditional medicine and can be taken in various ways, including through chewing, brewing herbal tea, or oral kratom powder/capsules or tablets.

Kratom users may experience both stimulant effects and opioid-like effects depending on the dosage taken, as these compounds are known to bind to opioid receptors and may also stimulate certain adrenaline and serotonin receptors. Its exact mechanism of action is not fully understood.

Kratom’s Drug Class

Kratom is a natural substance that contains a variety of different naturally occurring psychoactive drugs known as bioactive alkaloids.

Kratom is not currently a scheduled/controlled substance, though it is regulated by a variety of different states, and kratom warnings against ingestion have been published by the FDA.

Uses & Potential Benefits Of Kratom

Traditionally, kratom has been used as a natural pain reliever and mood-enhancer, reflecting the drug’s dual properties as an opioid and stimulant.

However, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), kratom has no recognized medical use as there is no current evidence that it is safe or effective for treating any medical condition.

However, many individuals in the United States use kratom products for self-treatment of:

  • chronic pain
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • opioid withdrawal symptoms
  • appetite/weight loss
  • cramping
  • diarrhea
  • panic attacks

It is also sometimes taken in high doses as a recreational drug for its pleasurable, narcotic-like effects.

Side Effects Of Kratom

Many experts advise that the potential side-effects that come with the use of kratom, even at low doses, outweigh the supposed benefits of this poorly understood natural drug.

The most common side effects of kratom may include:

  • aggression
  • anxiety and irritability
  • constipation
  • drowsiness and sedation
  • dry mouth
  • frequent urination
  • hallucinations
  • itching
  • nausea and vomiting
  • numbness of the tongue

Kratom may also sometimes cause serious side effects or adverse reactions including high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythm, heart attack, encephalopathy, hypothyroidism, sleep problems, kidney/liver injury, brain damage, breathing problems, and seizures.

Warnings Of Kratom Use

In 2018, the FDA issued the first mandatory recall in its history due to a multistate outbreak of salmonella traced back to contamination in a variety of kratom-containing products like pills, powder, and tea. 28 people in 20 different states were ultimately infected.

Kratom Overdose

In addition, kratom can be very dangerous in cases of overdose, which can cause liver toxicity, seizures, coma, and death. 

Serious cases are more likely to occur when kratom was taken with other drugs or alcohol, but poison centers have reported cases where kratom was the only drug taken and still triggered life-threatening overdose events.

Risky Kratom Formulations

Kratom risk can also be increased in certain formulations. For instance, the drug has been featured as a component in so-called Krypton capsules, an unregulated product which has also included the prescription painkiller O-Desmethyltramadol (tramadol) and caffeine powder. 

This resulted in a combination speedball drug with greatly increased potency, addictive potential, and overdose potential.

Health Issues

Chronic, long term kratom exposure is known cause issues including:

  • skin darkening
  • loss of appetite and unhealthy weight loss
  • insomnia
  • tremors
  • psychosis
  • physical dependence and opioid-like withdrawal symptoms (insomnia, tremors, sweating, restlessness, depression, etc.)

Much is still unknown about the medicinal chemistry of this substance and the short- or long-term impact of kratom use at varying dosages.

Is Kratom Addictive?

The interactions between opioid receptors and kratom suggest that the drug is less addictive than other prescription or illicit opioid drugs. Yet, these weak effects make the drug a popular legal supplement used to self-treat opioid withdrawal symptoms stemming from opioid addiction/opioid use disorder.

Nevertheless, the drug’s ability to generate even mild physiological dependence and its pain relief and euphoric properties mean that kratom is potentially habit-forming and can be addictive for certain individuals. 

Indeed, kratom addiction and dependence have been documented on many occasions.

If you or your loved one need treatment for a substance use disorder, we can help. To learn more about our healthcare options, please contact Ohio Recovery Center today.

  1. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — KRATOM (Mitragyna speciosa korth) (Street Names: Thang, Kakuam, Thom, Ketum, Biak)
  2. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — FDA and Kratom
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Kratom
  4. Safety First — Safety First News Alert Krypton

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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