One of the biggest roadblocks for people who want to stop using opioids is the fear of severe withdrawal. Many patients come to us after attempting to use other substances to try and mitigate their withdrawal symptoms. One of the substances we’ve heard about recently is kratom, which has gained popularity in recent years due to the belief that it can help patients deal with the symptoms associated with detox and withdrawal from opioids. But when a person attempts to self-detox by using a substance like kratom, they may be doing themselves more harm than good.

So is Kratom an effective solution for patients detoxing from opioids? Here are five important facts to know about kratom and opioid withdrawal.

Fact #1: Kratom Triggers Opioid Receptors in the Brain

So what is Kratom exactly? It is a powdery substance derived from a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia. The leaves of this tree contain naturally occurring compounds called alkaloids, which interact with the same opioid receptors in the brain that activate when opioid drugs like fentanyl, heroin, and various types of prescription opioid pain relievers are used.

Kratom’s effects vary depending on the dose. At low doses, kratom can produce stimulant effects, such as increased energy, alertness, and sociability. Higher doses of kratom can cause more opioid-like sedative effects, such as pain relief, sedation, and euphoria.

The opioid-like effects seem to be the reason that kratom is promoted as a way to help with opiate withdrawal symptoms. But kratom use is not without its dangers. Kratom’s side effects can be very serious.

Fact #2: Kratom Can Lead to Dependence or Addiction

When a person ingests kratom, the alkaloids in the leaves stimulate the same opioid receptors in the brain that are stimulated when a person uses fentanyl, heroin, and other opioid drugs. Because these receptors are such powerful reward centers in the brain, any substance that stimulates them has the potential to be addictive. Kratom is no exception.

People who attempt to replace opioids with kratom risk trading one addiction for another, or worse, becoming addicted to both kratom and opioids. Kratom’s effects are so similar to opioids that people who are trying to use kratom to transition away from opioids can be at high risk of relapsing back onto the more dangerous opioid they are trying to quit.

Prolonged use of kratom can lead a person to develop a tolerance that diminishes its effectiveness and requires them to take larger and larger doses to feel the same effects. As the brain adapts to kratom usage, physical and psychological dependence can take hold. A person can feel, both physically and mentally, that they need to keep taking kratom just to feel normal. Stopping kratom use at this point can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms.

Fact #3: Kratom’s Withdrawal Symptoms Can Be Severe

Kratom use, like the use of any substance that can cause addiction and dependence, can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped. The symptoms of kratom withdrawal are very similar to the symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal. They include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Excessive sweating
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Severe cravings for kratom

People who form a dependence or addiction to kratom can find it very difficult to stop using it because of how uncomfortable these withdrawal symptoms can be.


Fact #4: Kratom Isn’t Safe to Use Just Because It is “Natural”

There is a common misconception that because kratom is “natural” and derived from a plant, it should be safe to use, but this is far from the truth.

Kratom use comes with many side effects, including:

  • Agitation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Risk of coma, overdose, or death

The FDA has not approved any form of kratom for any medicinal use. Very few scientific studies have been done on the effects of kratom or how kratom interacts with other substances a person might be using. There are no consistent standards of quality. There is no agreed-upon safe dose. The market for kratom in the United States is virtually unregulated, and the DEA recently listed kratom as a Drug and Chemical of Concern.

There have been reports of kratom being contaminated with salmonella and making people who use it ill. Other reports have shown that kratom can contain high levels of heavy metals, which can lead to heavy metal poisoning and cause vital organ damage to the brain and liver.

There have also been reports of overdoses involving kratom. Most of these overdoses also involved an opioid or another substance that contributed to the overdose, but some overdose cases were only attributed to kratom.

Fact #5: Kratom is Only Legal in Certain Areas

Kratom’s legality in the United States varies from state to state. In some states, kratom is completely legal with virtually no restrictions. In some states, kratom is legal in most of the state, but is illegal in certain municipalities. In some states, kratom is legal, but with certain age restrictions. And in some states, kratom is outright banned.

Each state where kratom is currently legal has its own set of rules and regulations that govern the manufacturing, distribution, sale, marketing, and consumption of kratom, and new bills are being introduced all the time at both the state and federal level that could further change kratom’s legal status.

If you are thinking about using kratom to help with opioid withdrawal, you may be entering a legal gray area. It is best to find a trusted opioid detox method that is legal with proven results.

The Coleman Method: An Outpatient Opioid Detox Program That Works

The best way to stop using opioids while mitigating uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms is to seek out professional help and an effective treatment program. There are many options for medical detoxification with their own strengths and weaknesses, and Accelerated Opioid Detox using the Coleman Method offers a safer, faster, more comfortable option than many traditional methods.

Our outpatient detox program can be completed in as few as 3 days and has a 98% completion rate. We use a combination of comfort medications and Naltrexone, a medication that blocks the opioid receptors in the brain to reduce cravings and block the effects of opioids, to remove the opioids from the patient’s brain and make the withdrawal process safe and comfortable. No hospital stay is required, and we do not use general anesthesia or potentially addictive medications. We also offer post-detox support using long-acting Naltrexone in either implant or injection form that offers lasting support and helps our patients form healthier habits to start a new life free from addiction.

If you or someone you know is ready to get into detox and recovery for opioid use, please know that you don’t have to go it alone. The addiction recovery specialists at the Coleman Institute are here to help you. Contact the patient care team in our Richmond, VA, office or call the nearest nationwide location now for more information.