The bottom line is Yes!
First, let’s discuss what Kratom is and why it can be problematic. Kratom is a plant derivative of Mitragyna speciose. It is an evergreen tree in the same family as coffee plants, and it grows wild in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. Like other herbal derivatives, people often make the erroneous assumption that since it is plant-based and “natural,” it is safe. In the case of Kratom, this can be a crucial mistake.
The Truth About Kratom
Kratom stimulates the brain’s opioid receptors. It has the same mechanism of action as opioids like morphine or heroin. Accordingly, it is associated with many of the same problems.
These problems include:
- Uncomfortable Withdrawal
- Potential for Abuse
Other reported problems include:
- Salmonella infection
- Liver Failure
Why Are People Turning to Kratom?
Why do some people opt to use Kratom? There are a few different reasons. Kratom is sometimes touted as a recreational drug and, at low doses, it can create a sense of euphoria. It has also been marketed as a pain reducer, a mood stabilizer, an addiction treatment, and as a tool for withdrawal management from opioids. It comes in powder, capsule, and extract forms, and can be consumed either in food or as a tea. It is extremely bitter and unpleasant by itself.
Kratom has become increasingly available in the US in recent years. People purchase it online or at local tobacco and herbal shops. Some books praise its supposed virtues and offer instructions about how to try using it to detox from opioids.
An Unregulated and Dangerous Substance
Unfortunately, one has to remember that the Kratom market is completely unregulated and so there is no governing body inspecting manufacturers or providing oversight of quality. The FDA has issued several warnings and reports on the dangers of Kratom.
It is NOT an FDA-approved substance and no adequately controlled scientific studies have been performed on its safety or efficacy. In contrast, there are multiple reports about its dangers.
Kratom is Not a Withdrawal Management Tool
When a person attempts to use Kratom as a crutch for opiate withdrawal, they can easily wind up dependent on and/or addicted to both opioids and Kratom.
There are only 3 FDA-approved medications for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD.) These Medication-Assisted Treatments (or MAT) are: Buprenorphine, Methadone, and Naltrexone. Unlike the first 2 substances, Naltrexone is a non-addictive opioid blocker (opioid antagonist) that reduces cravings for opiates and alcohol, and can block highs.
Detox Off Kratom at the Coleman Institute
The physicians in the Coleman Network for Addiction Medicine have successfully detoxed a number of patients off of Kratom. Because it works in the same way that opiates do, we have been able to leverage our proven, safe and effective opioid withdrawal management technique (aka the Coleman Method™) to help patients get off of Kratom. After completing their Kratom detox with us, patients start Naltrexone therapy like all of our other opioid detox patients.
The seasoned addiction professionals in the Coleman Network are focused on helping patients with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) get into long-term recovery. Over the last 20 years, addiction professionals trained by Dr. Peter Coleman have used the innovative Coleman Method™ to help over 8,500 patients detox off alcohol, opioids (like fentanyl, heroin, Vicodin®, or Oxycontin®), or benzodiazepines.
Deborah Reich, MD