Kratom is one of the newest drugs to appear on the scene in the United States. Discussion amongst lawmakers about the legality of such a substance has begun, but for right now, it is widely legal across the 50 states.
What is Kratom?
Kratom is a tree that hails from Southeast Asia. The leaves have been traditionally chewed or ingested as a folk remedy to deal with pain. Low level doses of kratom have stimulating effects, and higher levels of kratom consumption can cause sedation and relaxation in the body. When consumed, kratom interacts with the opioid receptors in the brain and as such, reduce sensations of pain, increase pleasure as well as provide a relaxing effect.
How is Kratom Consumed?
Kratom is taken orally, primarily through either a powder or a pill form. Some kratom users prefer to make a tea out of the kratom leaves. In Thailand, there is a popular cocktail amongst the youth that is known as 4×100, which is a combination of kratom, cough syrup and a caffeinated beverage such as Coca-Cola. These ingredients mixed together usually create a high that puts the user into a deep state of relaxation.
Can Kratom Get You High?
Low levels of kratom consumption provide a stimulating effect, but when larger amounts are consumed, a high will occur. Such symptoms of a kratom high are as follows:
In addition to these symptoms, chronic and sustained abuse of kratom can actually lead to hallucinations and psychosis. Reports of other symptoms such as seizures, respiratory problems and depression have also been made. Some individuals have even landed in the ER due to abuse of this recently popular drug.
What Is the Length of the High ?
When kratom is initially consumed, the onset takes between 5 to 10 minutes for it to kick in. After consumed, the effects of the kratom high will last anywhere from two to five hours. The enjoyable effects of kratom depending entirely upon the amount of the dosage. A low dose would provide effects such as:
- Increased levels of alertness
- Higher energy levels
- Reduced sensation of pain
Higher dosages of kratom will reduce the stimulating effects of the plant and instead create a sedating effect that decreases anxiety, increases relaxation and produces a sensation of pleasure in the body.
What is the legal status of Kratom?
While kratom is illegal in a few counties, such as Australia or Thailand, in the United States it has yet to be given a legal status by the government. While there have been discussions by the DEA about potentially making the drug a Schedule 1 substance, they rescinded this plan in 2016 and haven’t made a formal decision yet. The Federal government has no regulations in place either, leaving state and local governments to decide the legality of the substance. With the jury still being out on the legality of the drug, kratom has commonly become available in places like head shops or online, where anyone can order a shipment of the drug. This increased availability can become problematic, especially for the younger generation who might be inclined to experiment with the drug.
Who uses Kratom?
Kratom has two different types of user, the ones who enjoy utilizing it for it’s supposedly beneficial effects, and individuals who are trying to use it to cut back on opioid withdrawal symptoms. Since kratom functions similarly to an opioid and aids with pain management, some individuals who are seeking to wean themselves off of their opioid addiction will begin to utilize kratom. However, this ultimately is a problematic decision because kratom itself has been found to have addictive properties as well. This means the addicted are just swapping out one addiction for another.
How addicting is Kratom?
According to the DEA, kratom addiction is a very real thing. A study of Thai kratom addicts showed they consumed the plant on a daily basis between 3 to 30 years. Long term abuse of kratom led to side effects such as:
- Weight Loss
- Skin Darkening
- Dry Mouth
- Frequent Urination
Those who consume regular quantities of kratom of a sustained period of time and decide to quit using it may also experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms consisted primarily of signs of increased hostility, aggression, emotional volatility and motor agitation of the body. In some cases, pain of the muscles have been reported as well.
While some people who are struggling with opioid addiction might consider trying to use kratom as a way to reduce their dependancy on the drug, there are better options on the table. Swapping out one addiction for another won’t help with recovery. Despite the claims by pro-kratom users that the drug is harmless, nearly 36 deaths in the United States have been linked to consumption and abuse of kratom.