The short answer is Yes!

First, let’s review what Kratom is and why it is of concern. Kratom is a plant derivative of Mitragyna speciose. It is an evergreen tree in the coffee plant family, which grows naturally in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.

As with other plant and herbal derivatives, people often make the false assumption that because it comes from a plant and is “natural,” it is safe. In the case of Kratom, this could not be further from the truth.

The Truth About Kratom

Kratom stimulates the opiate receptors in the brain. This is the same mechanism of action that opioids have. Moreover, with that comes the same set of problems. These problems include:

  • Dependence
  • Addiction
  • Potential for Abuse
  • Withdrawals

Other reported problems include:

  • Salmonella infection
  • Seizures
  • Liver Failure
  • Death

Why Are People Turning to Kratom?

There are several reasons. Kratom has been touted as a recreational substance and, at low doses, it can cause a sense of euphoria. It is also marketed as a pain reliever, a mood stabilizer, an addiction treatment, and as a withdrawal management tool. It comes in capsule, powder, and extract forms, and can be ingested as a tea or in food. It is extremely bitter and unpleasant on its own.

Kratom has become increasingly available throughout the US. It can be purchased on the internet and at many local tobacco and herbal shops. There are even books that tout its “miraculous” properties as well step-by-step guides about how to attempt to use it to detox from opiates.

An Unregulated and Dangerous Substance

It is important to remember that the Kratom market is completely unregulated. The FDA has issued several warnings and reports on the dangers of Kratom. It is NOT an FDA-approved substance and no adequate or controlled scientific studies have been performed on its safety or efficacy. To the contrary, there are multiple reports about its dangers.

Furthermore, there are no meaningful government controls or inspections of quality to ensure that the product being sold actually is Kratom. There is a meaningful risk of contamination or adulteration.

Kratom is Not a Withdrawal Management Tool

Worst of all, when someone tries to use Kratom as a withdrawal management tool, they can find themselves dependent on and/or addicted to both opiates and Kratom. We have seen this happen with multiple people who ultimately turned to us for help breaking out of this situation.


There are only three FDA-approved medications for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). These Medication-Assisted Treatments (or MAT) are: Methadone, Buprenorphine and Naltrexone. Unlike the first 2 substances, Naltrexone is a non-addictive opioid blocker (opioid antagonist) that reduces cravings for opiates and alcohol, and can block highs.

Detox Off Kratom at the Coleman Institute

We at the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine have successfully detoxed a number of patients off of Kratom. Because it works in the same way that opiates do, we have been able to apply our proven, safe and effective opioid withdrawal management protocols to help patients stop using Kratom. After a Kratom detox with us, patients begin Naltrexone therapy, as do all our opiate detox patients. The patient also receives 6 months of case management services with our dedicated aftercare planning team to support their long-term recovery.

Remember that the brain does not distinguish between opiates and Kratom and so the same issues need to be addressed such as emotional effects, triggers, etc. We will work with you to personalize a treatment plan that will set you up for success. We are here to help patients recover from substance misuse, dependence or addiction, whether the substance is alcohol, an opioid like fentanyl or oxycodone, or--as in the case of this article--the plant derivative Kratom. Please call us at 877-773-3869 for more information.

Deborah Reich, MD


Here are some other resources pertaining to Kratom: