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What is Kratom? Drug Rehab for Legal Substances


Kratom is an herbal drug that is essentially an opioid. This “herbal drug” comes from a tree that originates in Southeast Asia, with leaves that carry psychotropic (mind-altering) effects. Kratom can currently be purchased in store, on the internet, in gas stations and head shops. Kratom most commonly comes in powder or capsule form. However, some people drink the extract, chew the Kratom leaves, brew the dried or powdered leaves in tea, or smoke the substance. Some other names for Kratom include: Biak, Ketum, Kakuam, Ithang, and Thom.

Why Do People Use Kratom?

The effects of Kratom are very similar to that of prescription painkillers and heroin. People are drawn to using Kratom because it produces a euphoria, sedative and stimulant effects. The FDA issued a warning that Kratom acts like an opioid, so in larger amounts— you can overdose on the substance. Kratom still has been found to have no medicinal value by the Food and Drug Administration.

Is Kratom Deadly?

Although research on Kratom is limited, researchers from the University of Colorado studied 15 deaths that were directly related to Kratom. In one of these deaths, Kratom was the only substance present in the body. Dr. Andrew Monte says that Kratom by itself can be very dangerous when used in high amounts. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there were over ten times as many calls to poison centers about Kratom made in 2015 compared to 2010.
Just because Kratom is currently legal in most states of the United States, does not mean the substance is safe by any means. Along with Kratom, substances like K2 and bath salts are technically legal— and are conveniently available despite the warnings against using them. Kratom is currently illegal in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin. Overall, The FDA has investigated 44 deaths linked directly to Kratom.

Do You Need Drug Rehab for Kratom Use?

Despite being legal, Kratom use is a cause for concern. Using a substance to alter your mind to avoid unpleasant feelings or moods, planning around using the substance, using more of the substance at a more frequent pace, etc. are all signs of a substance use disorder. You can still have a substance use disorder with a substance that is technically legal. Drug addiction does not depend on the severity of the drug or whether it’s legal or not.


Kratom is psychoactive and comes in three particular “strains”— red vein, white vein and green vein Kratom. The red vein Kratom has the most sedating effects, and acts most like prescription opioids. It hits the same opioid receptors as heroin, but is not nearly as strong. Different strains are thought to have different effects, depending on where that Kratom strain was grown. Kratom is known to have a very bitter taste.
In regular doses, Kratom doesn’t really cause a high; effects are not as pronounced as a traditional opiate. In high doses, Kratom can cause dysphoria and intense nausea. Kratom has both a sedative and stimulant effect, depending on the amount taken; tolerance and individual brain chemistry influence the effect of Kratom.
Short Term Effects:
-Pain Relief
-Feelings of Empathy
-Vivid waking dreams
Reported Negative Health Effects:
-Nausea and dizziness
-Dry mouth
-Loss of appetite
-Depression after using substance
-Addiction and the potential for withdrawal symptoms to occur from using Kratom
-Symptoms of psychosis
Long term effects for Kratom are not known, due to a lack of research with this drug. Many Kratom users have reported symptoms of withdrawal that presented themselves after they tried to discontinue use of the drug. Withdrawal symptoms reported include: muscle aches, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggression, emotional shifts, restlessness, and a runny nose.

Using Kratom

Many people use Kratom as an alternative to prescription opioids or heroin, however, Kratom is not safe. Kratom is a drug with a high abuse potential, especially in those who have abused opioids in the past. Using Kratom to relieve pain, to ease opiate withdrawal symptoms, or as a replacement to other opioids is harmful.
Without any sound evidence, Kratom is being promoted as a pain-reliever and as a “cure” to opioid addiction— these statements are completely baseless and the FDA remains clear on their stance that Kratom is dangerous and has a high potential for abuse. Kratom claims to be used to treat opioid addiction, anxiety, and depression with no negative side effects, however there have never been clinical trials to take an in-depth look at the substance. What we do know about Kratom is that it is an addictive substance that acts like an opioid.

Abuse Potential

Kratom is grown and harvested mainly in Thailand and Malaysia, however the substance is illegal in both of these countries. There are many risk factors for Kratom becoming an abused substance, especially in those with addictive tendencies. Kratom has major abuse potential for those who already have an opioid addiction, and although it is an herbal substance, Kratom can cause opioid-like signs and symptoms of withdrawal. If you have been using Kratom frequently, you should enter a drug rehab center to address why you feel like you need to engage in substance abuse. Kratom is not approved for use in any treatment programs, as use of Kratom is considered cause for needing addiction treatment.

Addiction Treatment

Royal Life Centers offers a variety of treatment options to address substance abuse. Royal Life Centers designed our programs to follow guests through the recovery process. With the intensive therapies that we offer, guests are able to work with their therapist to uncover the root cause of their alcohol or substance use disorder. We provide cognitive behavioral therapy, other behavioral therapies, group therapy, individual therapy sessions, adventure therapy, activity therapy, and equine therapy. Our group therapies cover topics like grief and loss, anger management, emotional regulation, and how to prevent relapse. If you have any questions about our treatment options, please reach out to our admissions team.
If you or someone you know is using Kratom, please call our addiction specialists for guidance and support. Our team is available to take your call 24/7 at (877)-RECOVERY or (877)-732-6837. Because We Care.

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