Kratom is a highly controversial drug in the addiction treatment world. While some opiate addicts praise it as a miracle cure, others see it as a replacement opiate, one that created an even stronger addiction. It’s relatively unknown in the US but has been classified as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance by the DEA since 2016. There’s still a lot people don’t realize about this drug, so here are some surprising facts about it you might not know.
It’s Not an Opiate, But it Acts Like One
Doctors still don’t really understand how kratom interacts with the brain. It isn’t an opiate, but it does bind to the opiate receptor in the brain. It’s believed that the main compound in it is called mitragynine, but kratom hasn’t been studied enough to be sure. Opiates have a sedative effect, but kratom actually has a stimulating effect at lower doses, although it does have sedating effects when taken in higher quantities.
Kratom Detox Looks a lot Like Opiate Detox
Due to the fact that kratom binds to the same part of the brain as opioids, detox symptoms are very similar. The most common kratom detox symptoms include flu-like symptoms such as sweating, hot and cold flashes, body aches, cramps, weakness, fatigue, depression, nausea, and diarrhea. Some people report kratom detox is milder than opioid detox, while others say it is far worse.
It’s Often Seen as a Replacement Drug
Detox medications are controversial because some people view them as replacing one drug for another. This is a common critique of opiate detox medications like methadone. Kratom is even worse. Those with a history of addiction are more likely to quickly become physically dependent on it. While kratom might be a less harmful substitute for other drugs due to it’s milder side effects, it can be very difficult to stop taking it.
It’s Been Linked to Higher Suicide Rates
There have not been nearly enough studies on kratom, which is why there are increased regulations around it. Simply put we don’t know enough about it yet. However, studies have found that people with alcoholism or other mental disorders that take kratom have an increased risk of suicide.
It is Possible to Overdose on Kratom
A big reason opiate addicts turn to kratom is that it’s far safer in terms of overdosing. Opiate overdoses are particularly bad because they impact one’s ability to breathe. Kratom has milder side effects, but it is possible to overdose on it. In fact, kratom came to light because kratom overdoses started happening. Individuals have a higher rate of overdosing on kratom when it is mixed when other drugs such as alcohol, caffeine, fentanyl, cocaine, antihistamines, and benzos.