Opioid addiction can be a deadly habit. Individuals with a problem are desperate for help and may want to find easy ways to stop. One of the latest supplements that is being used as an opioid substitute or to treat opioid addiction is kratom. Although this botanical supplement has been promoted as safe by some, the FDA has recently issued a public health advisory for the substance. The warning discusses its deadly risks and the fatalities that are associated with it.
What is Kratom?
This substance is a plant that is found in Southeast Asia. It produces similar effects of opioids. It binds to the same opioid receptors as morphine, so it is an effective painkiller. Advocates for the supplement claim that kratom offers relief from pain, certain mental health disorders and can be used to aid in addiction treatment. Recently, however, more and more individuals are using it as an opioid alternative. Although it has been used for many years in some countries as an herbal medicine, this opioid substitute can be highly addictive.
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Clinical Studies on Kratom
While there is evidence that it alleviates pain in animals, there have been no solid clinical studies performed that examine the effects of kratom on humans. Companies are trying to market this supplement for its health benefits, but it must be placed through the FDA’s drug review process so that it may be assessed for safety and effectiveness. Until that time, it is not supposed to be sold for these purposes. Today, no product containing kratom has undergone the required testing for FDA approval and in fact, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced in August 2016 that it intended to make kratom a Schedule 1 drug, placing it in the same class as heroin, LSD, marijuana, and ecstasy. This has not yet passed at the time of this article, but shows that there is a good deal of suspected danger in using kratom for an opioid substitute
Dangers of this Herbal Supplement Kratom
There are negative claims that have been made against the kratom supplement. Many people in the scientific field consider this a “drug of concern.” Since it has similar effects of morphine, it can be extremely addictive and there are indications that more and more people are falling victim to the adverse effects of this product. For example, calls to poison control centers concerning this substance are becoming increasingly prevalent. This indicates that the supplement is growing in popularity and is causing negative effects in many users. However, the possible dangers are not completely understood. By itself, an overdose is not likely. Instead, most problems occur when it is mixed with alcohol and other drugs. Unfortunately, this happens frequently, thus the increased calls for help.
The FDA has banned kratom from being imported into the country, which means that it is often sold illegally. Because of this, there has been a lack of regulation for this so-called opioid substitute kratom. If it is purchased, there are no guarantees that it is actually the correct substance in its pure form. It may be combined with other substances which can make it toxic. The New York Times has reported that mixing kratom with other opioids can worsen side effects and risk factors. In 2014, approximately 50,000 individuals died from overdoses that were caused by combining kratom with other drugs.
Addiction and Kratom
Like with opioids, using kratom can lead to addiction. Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, depression, and trouble sleeping. Because the withdrawal symptoms can be severe, a person who uses kratom to help with opioid detoxification and withdrawal may instead have to deal with the dangerous effects of kratom withdrawal. Because of the lack of regulation, the effects may be more severe and require medical supervision.
Although many websites tout the benefits of kratom, especially for people who are attempting to kick an opioid addiction problem, there is no scientific evidence to back up these claims. In fact, individuals who are addicted to opioids and are using any supplement without proper directions or without being under the supervision of a medical professional may not be aware of the terrible risks and side effects. The best way to overcome a drug problem is to seek help from a trusted addiction treatment center and not believe the claims that any supplement will help in curing your opioid addiction. Especially when there is no reliable evidence that supports the claims that kratom can help with addiction.
Whether you have tried kratom or not, if you are in need of help with your addiction, Ocean Hills Recovery can help. To discover how we can help you overcome your addiction issues, contact us today.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.