What Are Kratom and Poppy Used For?
Both Kratom, a tropical evergreen plant from Southeast Asia, and unwashed poppy seeds have been used for pain management. Kratom and poppies, if taken for a long enough time in high enough amounts will create physical dependency. These substances can both cause a person to experience poppy or kratom withdrawal if the user stops taking them.
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James’s Poppy Addiction
James was ashamed to tell me his story of poppy addiction when we did our screening call after he completed his Accelerated Opioid Detox form.
Poppy Tea Addiction
“A few years ago I was talking to my gym trainer about what was going on in my life between sets. Work was driving me crazy, my girlfriend was starting to send me ring pictures, and I was having issues with shoulder pain. He mentioned that besides sitting in the sauna and lifting heavy at the gym, sipping on poppy seed tea helped him with stress.
James, like most people, never thought of using poppy seed tea for stress or pain management. His trainer proceeded to tell him the brand he buys, how to make it, and everything he needed to know.
James kept talking.
“I had poppy pods on auto-order. At first, I thought it was a cure-all. Work and my shoulder weren’t bothering me anymore. The girlfriend… that’s a different story. I started off drinking only a few cups a week, but as I noticed the stress melt away, I started taking it daily. I kept telling myself that I was fine, this was fine. It’s legal and natural, so I had nothing to worry about. Right?”
“During Covid, as items became harder to find, I received the email that my poppy pods were out of stock. I couldn’t find them anywhere.”
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Poppy Seed Tea Withdrawal
He actually thought that he had Covid at that point. James developed cramping, sweats, extreme body aches, and chills. James was also having diarrhea and experiencing vomiting.
But his Covid tests kept coming back negative.
So after he did some googling, he revealed that he was experiencing opioid withdrawal symptoms.
More like this: How Can I Safely Detox Off Opioids During Coronavirus?
Natalie Kratom Addiction
Natalie is a respiratory therapist at a hospital in a low-income area. She would treat patients with gunshot wounds that were a result of gang wars, babies who were experiencing opioid withdrawal, and heartbreaking symptoms.
When she called us to inquire about detoxing off kratom, she shared with me her story of how she became addicted.
“I was working long shifts at the hospital, sometimes working back-to-back shifts if we got short-handed. I had a toddler, a side business, a high-maintenance dog, and a new marriage. I was juggling way too much. It was way too much but I had to keep going.”
“After a hard shift, one of my co-workers gave me a few kratom pills. My co-worker could see it on my face that I was spent. She told me it was a legal and natural way to help with stress and boost my energy. I didn’t even question it.”
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Kratom Addiction Potential
Natalie found that the kratom pills made her feel like a teenager again. So she increased her kratom use. Like James, she also had them on auto-order as her daily habit felt was no longer a choice. Natalie had become physically dependent on the kratom.
Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms
When Natalie didn’t take the kratom she experienced similar symptoms to that of James: gastrointestinal issues, restless legs, muscular aches and pains, chills, and sweats.
Treating Kratom & Poppy Withdrawal
It was about eight years ago that I had the first experience with treating a patient with a poppy seed tea addiction. He was a remote developer who drank several cups a day. Since then, the Coleman Network for Addiction Medicine has helped several people detox off of poppy seed tea and kratom.
Both poppy seeds and kratom are “natural” and “legal”. But, so is poison ivy, but you wouldn’t want to put that in your body either.
Although most of the patients come to us for help getting off pain medication such as Roxicet®, Percocet®, hydromorphone, Oxycontin®, Vicodin®, tramadol, morphine, or other street drugs like fentanyl and heroin.
Accelerated Opioid Detox
How to get off of both kratom and poppy seed tea is similar.
I have talked to patients who have used kratom to help detox off of heroin or fentanyl over the years. The patients who come in for treatment are not successful doing this themselves or are now using a stronger opioid to detox off of kratom.
Suggested Read: Accelerated Opioid Detox: Explained Using the Coleman Method
How to Detox off of Kratom and Poppies
For these detoxes, the Coleman Network for Addiction Medicine will schedule a five-day outpatient treatment. We require patients to have a support person dedicated to staying with them 24/7 while they are on this detox. This person plays an important role, as they administer the scheduled medication, provide support, and will drive you to and from the office.
During the five days, the patient will receive a micro-dose of naltrexone. This will begin the process of replacing the receptors of the addictive substance with the pure blocking agent, naltrexone. Naltrexone, although the micro-dose is small, actively displaces the opioid compounds of the poppy seeds and kratom. This way it creates precipitated poppy and kratom withdrawal.
The comfort meds that are administered as a part of the Coleman method ensure that the patient’s only experiences minimal discomfort. The body passively metabolizes the remaining poppy seed kratom or opioid compounds after several days. They also receive a micro-dose naltrexone, which slowly ‘bumps’ off the receptors from the opioids, and the patient can get a long-acting naltrexone implant.
Naltrexone is a non-addictive opioid blocker. It helps prevent relapse and reduces cravings. At the Coleman Network for Addiction Medicine, this comes in pellet form and is placed under the skin of the abdomen. It will then dissolve over two months, and create a physical barrier on the opioid receptors so that other receptors can’t “land”. This eliminates the need for patients to take an oral pill daily. It also means there is no withdrawal or cravings when the implant wears off.
How Long Can You Take Naltrexone?
A question that we are asked frequently is how long a patient should continue to use long-acting naltrexone.
The answer depends on many things, including why they started taking opioids in the first place and if they tried any other substances to get off of the opioids. We will often suggest that patients are on naltrexone therapy for a year while they take advantage of the resources provided by our case managers.
This may include intensive outpatient treatment, referrals for in-patient therapy, or individual counseling. Many patients also find virtual or in-person support groups helpful.
Suggested Read: Naltrexone Therapy During the COVID-19 Pandemic
I believe more people would choose long-acting naltrexone as their treatment option when it comes to treating an Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). The wash-out gap between stopping poppy seed tea or kratom and getting on naltrexone can be very challenging. Especially if the patient is physically dependent. This is the niche where the Coleman Network for Addiction Medicine has excelled for over 25 years and is a huge barrier to overcome.
If you have found yourself struggling with a poppy seed tea or kratom addiction, you are not alone so please give us a call. We will be happy to provide more details about our outpatient accelerated opioid detox. Until then, stay safe.
Joan R. Shepherd, FNP