Kratom Withdrawal and Detox
Kratom is derived from the plant Mitragyna speciosa and is commonly marketed in tablet or powder form as a “dietary supplement,” or sold in smoke shops as “incense.” More recently, it’s been used to “wean” individuals off of illegal substances such as heroin.
Kratom can cause a stimulant effect when used in low doses that may increase energy levels and combat fatigue. In higher doses, kratom can have effects similar to opioid substances, causing sedation, euphoria and a possible dreamlike state. When used regularly, just like other substances that act on opioid receptors in the brain, kratom may cause the body to become dependent.
Kratom believed to target the areas of the brain that respond to opioids like codeine, morphine and fentanyl. The pharmacology makeup of kratom includes more than 20 alkaloids that have been identified in lab research, many of which are responsible for the pain-relieving properties of the herb. For example, mitragynine is contained in kratom and is around 13 times more powerful than morphine. While kratom is not structurally the same as morphine or codeine, it does have an action in the brain that is similar to opioids. Based on the makeup of kratom, it’s believed that it has the potential to be addictive and have withdrawal symptoms that are similar to what people would experience with a narcotic withdrawal.
When taken for a long period of time, the brain compensates by creating more receptor sites for these alkaloids, known as upregulation, diminishing their effectiveness overall. Upon cessation, these alkaloids are no longer present, which when combined with the increased level of receptor sites causes withdrawal symptoms. At this point the brain compensates by removing these unnecessary receptor sites. By understanding this process, it is easier to recognize why an individual needs to seek kratom withdrawal help.
Even when someone is not withdrawing from kratom, there are potential negative or undesirable side effects that can occur. These can include:
- Severe nausea and vomiting
- Delusional thoughts
- Aggressive or combative behavior
In addition to these side effects, when an individual is addicted to kratom they may experience constant cravings, weight loss and loss of sexual desire.
How Long Does Kratom Withdrawal Last
The severity and duration of these symptoms largely depend on how long and how heavily the individual used kratom. In general, heavier use will result in more severe withdrawal symptoms. There is no evidence of post-acute withdrawal symptoms after quitting kratom, but individuals who have been dependent on other types of drugs like opioids may experience continued withdrawal symptoms, including: fatigue, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, cravings, memory loss, and trouble concentrating.
Kratom Withdrawal Timeline
A distinct timeline for kratom withdrawal symptoms isn’t well studied, but they can be compared to withdrawal from opioids. The typical kratom withdrawal length averages 7–10 days.
Within 24 hours of quitting kratom, symptoms of withdrawal usually begin. During the acute withdrawal stage, you may suffer from increased cravings and anxiety, combined with other physical symptoms such as agitation, muscle aches, runny nose, insomnia and sweating.
After two to four days, as an individual progresses through withdrawal, these symptoms may intensify and peak. Withdrawal symptoms that may appear during this stage include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, dilated pupils and goose bumps.
Many symptoms begin to subside after seven to 10 days.
Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms
Kratom withdrawal can occur if you are dependent on the drug and stop using it.
Dependence often develops in parallel with users developed tolerance to kratom’s effects. At this point, many people will begin to take the drug more frequently and in higher doses to achieve the same results. Over time, the body adapts to the presence of the substance and may feel or function inadequately without a certain amount in the system. This drive to continue using the drug can lead to a substance use disorder, despite negative consequences.
If a person is kratom-dependent and abruptly stops using the drug, they may experience withdrawal symptoms because their body has yet to adapt to functioning without it. These symptoms are especially likely if they have used the substance heavily or for long periods of time.
Many individuals have a hard time quitting opioids and similar substances because they fear going through withdrawal. The recurrence of use is essentially an attempt to prevent withdrawal symptoms. The kratom withdrawal symptoms include: diarrhea, muscle aches and pains, tremors, jerky motions, restlessness, insomnia, extreme depression, crying, panic, mood swings and irritability.
Other kratom withdrawal symptoms may include general irritability, sweating, abdominal pain and high blood pressure. If someone is misusing kratom or physically dependent on it, the withdrawal symptoms can be as severe as with narcotics. That’s why it’s important that someone who is dependent on kratom receives treatment through a supervised, professional medical detox program.
In addition to the need to safely manage the physical withdrawal symptoms that can occur with kratom, medically supervised detox is important with this substance because the risks are believed to be similar to what happens with opioid withdrawal. This includes the risk of desire because of extreme vomiting and the complications that can occur with poor nutrition and lack of fluids.
Complications of a Kratom Withdrawal
Although researchers have not extensively studied kratom withdrawal, the primary psychoactive alkaloid chemicals in the plant resemble opioid drugs in both structure and effects. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, opioid withdrawal symptoms are usually not life-threatening.
However, opioid withdrawal can cause a number of health risks and medical complications, including:
- Relapse risks – The discomfort of opioid withdrawal can increase the risk of setbacks. Continued misuse, especially in the context of lowered tolerance, can lead to an overdose.
- Aspiration risks – Acute opioid withdrawal may be associated with gastrointestinal distress.
- Imbalanced fluids and electrolyte levels – Excessive vomiting or diarrhea, coupled with poor nutrition, can result in dehydration and disturbances in your body’s balance of electrolytes.
If an individual is concerned they have a problem with kratom, or that they’re physically dependent on it, it can be valuable to have an understanding of the overall kratom withdrawal duration. Detoxing from kratom can be difficult, but it’s an essential part of the recovery process, and many addiction specialists feel it’s the most important aspect of recovering from kratom addiction.
Detox refers to a time in the drug recovery process where the person who’s addicted to kratom will stop taking the drug, and their body will start going through the elimination of toxins and substances. When a person has been using kratom for an extended period of time, their body becomes so dependent on it that withdrawal symptoms will likely occur.
There are three primary stages of drug detox, which include evaluation, stabilization and then the transition to a comprehensive treatment program. With opioids, kratom and other drugs, including benzodiazepines, a medically supervised detox program is recommended because of the potential severity of withdrawal symptoms and side effects. It’s also not recommended that someone stop using a substance like kratom abruptly, because it can be very dangerous.When people enter drug detox, it’s important to realize that this isn’t actual treatment. For the best chance at recovery, they should participate in an in-depth treatment program following detox.
A detox program for kratom withdrawal has many benefits. These benefits include the fact that symptoms can be managed, the person can be made more comfortable and it provides a better way to stop using kratom and other substances.
A drug detox program for kratom includes a variety of different components, including:
- Evaluation: During the evaluation phase of detox, someone who is using kratom will start working with medical professionals for treatment planning. During evaluation, some of the things that might happen include blood tests, screening for other conditions, both mental and physical, a full assessment of the patient’s medical and psychological history and current status, and an overall risk assessment for how severe the detox process could be.
- Stabilization: After a complete evaluation has been done for someone who is seeking treatment for kratom, they then move into the stabilization phase. During this time, the person may be given medications, depending on their type of symptoms and the severity. They may also be given a particular diet to ensure they have proper nutrition as they detox, and they’ll start learning more about the treatment and recovery process.
- Treatment Transition: Eventually, following a complete kratom detox, the person will begin the move to actual treatment for their substance use disorder.
Asking or agreeing to go to treatment is a monumental first step on the road to recovery. Many people do not realize there are multiple stages in the treatment and recovery process, and one of the most important steps is medical detox.
In addition to comfort and safety, medical detox can serve as the first step on the road to recovery. Medical professionals can help identify and address underlying medical issues, both physical and mental. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) up to 53 percent of those with a substance use disorder also have an additional, severe mental or behavioral health disorder like depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder. In medical detox, doctors can evaluate a person mentally, while a therapist is typically also assigned to each patient. During and after medical detox, a personalized treatment plan is created to guide patients through inpatient or outpatient rehab. This helps allow a person to get the most out of the treatment process.
If you or someone you love is in need of kratom detox and rehab,you can contact a representative from The Recovery Village at any time. During this free and confidential phone call, a representative will help you find the treatment program that best suits your needs, and even check your insurance benefits for you.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.
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