Several months ago Jim, 26 years old, came to the Coleman Network for an Accelerated Opioid Detox. He had been using heroin for about 2 years after being on oxycodone following surgeries he’d had shortly after high school. Jim had a good life and was on the right path. Jim had graduated from a good HVAC program and was a reliable employee. He loved working with his hands. But his path was littered with stops along the way. He was using—blowing all his money on—heroin.
Because Jim was using under 2 grams of heroin, he was scheduled for a 3-day rapid detox. This is important because the substance (or substances) someone is taking and the amount are deciding factors in our medical approach to their detox, and how long it will last. For example, if someone is using over 2 grams of heroin daily, or if there might be some fentanyl involved, we would typically have them come in for 4 to 5 days.
A Comfortable Detox Off Heroin?
The first day of a patient’s detox off heroin at the Coleman Network is usually pretty comfortable. We supply a very small dose of Naltrexone with several other medications to minimize any symptoms they may experience. That’s why it was a little unusual when Rene, Jim’s girlfriend and support person, called us saying that Jim was experiencing significant withdrawal symptoms.
“He’s having diarrhea and has vomited a couple times. He has really bad body aches and says he feels like he needs to beat on his legs to stop the pain.”
Those are the classic signs of acute opiate withdrawal. But why was Jim having such a violent reaction when most people generally sleep through their first day with the Coleman Network detoxification protocol?
We had Rene bring Jim back to the office and after further conversation with him, the answer was revealed. Jim had been using kratom to help withdraw from opiates. He had purchased the kratom about a week prior to coming to our facility and felt the kratom helped his withdrawal symptoms during that prior week.
The Truth About Kratom to Detox Off Heroin
There is a reason for that Jim felt the kratom helped alleviate his withdrawal during his week prior to detox.. Evidence shows that kratom has similar effects to opioids, according to the FDA, and carries similar risks of abuse, addiction and—in some cases—death. The FDA has even issued a public health advisory related to mounting concerns regarding risks associated with the use of kratom.
The FDA says, “Kratom is a plant that grows naturally in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. It has gained popularity in the U.S., with some marketers touting it as a “safe” treatment with broad healing properties. Proponents argue that it’s a safe substance largely because it’s a plant-based product. The FDA knows people are using kratom to treat conditions like pain, anxiety and depression, which are serious medical conditions that require proper diagnosis and oversight from a licensed healthcare provider.”
So because Jim had been using the kratom as well as heroin, we were essentially detoxing him from two substances. Jim’s ultimate goal was to go on long acting Naltrexone, which is an opiate blocker and does not cause any physical dependency. Providing Medically-Assisted Treatment (MAT) with Naltrexone has been our specialty for over 20 years. However, all the opiates must be out of the system before a person starts on the naltrexone.
We extended Jim’s detox and adjusted his medication accordingly. He ultimately did very well.
More Questions About Using Kratom to Detox off Heroin?
It can be very confusing to know the ins and outs of various treatments and what substances should and shouldn’t be used to help a patient detox off opiates like Percocet®, Vicodin® or off of street drugs. If you have any questions or concerns about kratom or other opiates, please call us.
Joan R. Shepherd, FNP