Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline and Detox Treatment Options
Kratom is a tropical tree that is native to Southeast Asia. When you consume this plant’s leaves in small doses, you experience stimulant effects. At higher doses, you experience sedative effects that can lead to psychotic symptoms, along with psychological and physical dependence. Based on these effects and how kratom interacts with the brain, it carries a high risk of abuse — particularly among those with a history of abuse.
Many states have banned the use of this drug. However, this drug remains legal at the federal level, even though the FDA has released several warnings. Regardless of its legal status, kratom has a high potential for abuse, and the withdrawal effects can be dangerous.
If you or a loved one are abusing kratom, it’s important to take the next step. Although kratom withdrawal symptoms are a significant barrier among users, the risk of complications when continuing use is much greater than completing detoxification. The key is to seek professional care, ensuring optimal comfort and safety.
You can overcome kratom withdrawal symptoms and build a healthy, fulfilling future. Here’s everything you need to know about the kratom withdrawal process, plus how to take the next steps.
What Are the Symptoms of Kratom Withdrawal?
Kratom has a long history of use in Southeast Asia, as many people take kratom as a stimulant to sustain energy. They also take this substance to experience the opioid-like sedative effects.
Today, the effects of this leaf extract have gained popularity in Europe and the United States. Widely available on the internet, its use has quickly spread worldwide. It is usually marketed as an herbal or dietary supplement, but its effects can be fatal. Deaths attributed to kratom have been reported in Europe and the United States. The CDC reported that of the 27,338 overdose deaths that were entered into the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDOERS) during July 2016–June 2017, 152 (0.56 percent) of these decedents tested positive for kratom.
In approximately 80% of kratom-involved deaths, the decedents had a history of substance misuse and approximately 90% had no history of being medically treated for pain. Based on the dangers associated with using this drug, starting the withdrawal process is essential — but what can you expect?
Kratom is often related to opioids because it works on some of the same brain mechanisms. As a result, you may experience significant kratom withdrawal syndromes following sudden cessation.
These symptoms may include:
- Severe flu-like symptoms
- Joint or muscle pain
- Jerky movements
- Irritability and aggression
- Sleep disturbances
- Excessive sweating
- Locomotor hypersensitivity
- Skin pigmentation changes, especially on the cheeks
Researchers have also documented kratom withdrawals symptoms that include psychosis. For example, users may be become confused and suffer from delusions.
The FDA has warned consumers not to use kratom based on its effect and high risk of abuse, dependence, and addiction. Once a physical dependence develops, this is when kratom withdrawal syndrome can surface. However, psychological dependence is also possible.
Like any substance sourced outside of FDA-approved channels, kratom may contain a range of unknown substances. Some of these substances may directly threaten your immediate well-being, while others can contribute to worsened kratom withdrawal symptoms. When the FDA tested 30 different kratom products, the analysis showed significant levels of nickel and lead, exceeding the safe exposure. Long-term kratom use could expose users to heavy metal poisoning, causing nerve or kidney damage, high blood pressure and increased cancer risk.
These potential effects are something to consider if you are avoiding the kratom withdrawal process because you fear the potential symptoms. The goal is to seek assistance from a professional care team. In doing so, you can ensure a safe and comfortable kratom withdrawal process. Once you overcome the physical withdrawal symptoms, you can actively work on your recovery plan.
What Causes Kratom Withdrawal?
Some users begin taking kratom in an attempt to wean themselves off opioids because it is a “legal” alternative. This can be a dangerous approach. For one, users of kratom are self-treating their opioid withdrawal symptoms, which can lead to several complications. You may then develop a dependence on kratom or start using this substance in conjunction with other addictive substances. In that case, kratom withdrawal symptoms can become much more complicated.
The effects of kratom come from this plant’s two major psychoactive ingredients — mitragynine and 7-hydroxymytragynine. These components interact with opioid receptors in the brain, producing pleasure, sedation, and decreased pain. Although mitragynine interacts with opioid receptors, it also interacts with other receptor systems, producing stimulant effects.
To understand kratom withdrawal syndrome, you must first understand how this substance influences your body and brain. Kratom is believed to be most similar to opioids in that it influences some of the same mechanisms and brain circuits.
Currently, little is known about kratom’s complex mechanism of action. Since this drug alone can cause human fatality, researchers continue to explore its effect on the brain. When studied in animals, mitragynine has been shown to cause reward behavior. Following continued use, tolerance can develop. To achieve the desired effects, higher dosages are required. Kratom withdrawal effects have also been documented upon abstinence.
In many regions across the world, including Malaysia and Thailand, kratom is illegal and has been placed under the Poison Act and Schedule 5 of the Thai Narcotic Act. Since kratom creates narcotic and stimulant-like effects, it has high abuse potential. Those who begin to abuse this substance often have a history of drug use.
Users often claim to feel happy, active, and strong, urging them to continue consuming the plant until a habit is formed. Since this stimulant is accessible and cheap, this may also be a driving force behind continued use.
When mitragynine use was studied in mice, tolerance developed following repeated administration for five consecutive days. A similar effect occurs in humans. However, timelines may differ depending on the user’s history of use and dosing.
One study observed 293 regular kratom users and found that of those who used kratom for over six months, more than 50% developed severe dependence and 45% showcased moderate dependence. Kratom withdrawal syndrome was apparent, with severe symptoms following prolonged use.
How Long Does Kratom Withdrawal Take?
Kratom is a unique substance that is still largely misunderstood. There are many variables to consider when discussing the kratom withdrawal timeline. Since the kratom withdrawal process is most similar to opioid withdrawal, users often experience an opioid-like withdrawal timeline.
It is important to note that the kratom withdrawal timeline varies from one individual to the next. However, the acute withdrawal phase will generally last for around two weeks. The most significant symptoms will be within the first one to three days. Unlike opioids such as Vicodin or oxycodone, kratom has not been extensively studied. To better understand kratom withdrawal symptoms and the associated timeline, you must rely primarily on documented case studies.
These cases mainly include users who treat themselves for opioid withdrawal. For some, the effects are positive concerning the user’s ability to control opioid withdrawal symptoms better. However, as discussed, complications can arise when treating oneself in an unsupervised environment, including kratom tolerance and dependence. The dangers of unsupervised detoxification applies to many substances of abuse, which is why it’s crucial to reach out to a professional facility. For example, if you are abusing kratom and alcohol, alcohol dependence can be fatal. Kratom withdrawal isn’t typically life-threatening. It is still uncomfortable and depending on the circumstances, can be dangerous.
When users develop kratom dependence, withdrawal symptoms typically begin around 12 hours following your last dose. However, this timeline can range from 12 to 48 hours. At this point, you may begin to experience heightened anxiety and excessive sweating. Over 12 to 24 hours, symptoms will transition from mild to more severe. At this point, you may begin to experience stomach joint, bone, and muscle pain. Visual distortions may also develop.
As anxiety and insomnia worsen, these symptoms may further complicate the kratom withdrawal process, causing exacerbated physical symptoms. Your mood will likely be significantly affected by days two and three, cravings will intensify and tremors may begin. By day four, some users will begin to experience decreased symptoms, but this depends on the severity of one’s dependence. For others, days four to seven can be the most uncomfortable, with symptoms lasting as long as 10 days.
If you have been mixing kratom use with other substances of abuse, this timeline will differ and may include other symptoms. If this is the case, it is even more critical to seek professional care. Combining drugs can create dangerous or even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to be assessed at the beginning of the kratom withdrawal process so that you can be monitored throughout.
By two weeks, the worst physical symptoms will typically be resolved. Minor physical symptoms may still linger. For some, this is when psychological symptoms must be addressed. If you have overcome the physical kratom withdrawal symptoms, this is when the risk of relapse is highest. Your cravings and psychological dependence may encourage you to use again, creating a vicious cycle of abuse. This is why it’s so important to have the support of a professional team by your side. Substance abuse and mental health experts will help you address physical kratom symptoms and actively work on any psychological variables.
How To Safely Manage a Kratom Detox
If you are frightened to begin the kratom withdrawal process because of the potential symptoms, know that there is a safe and effective way to complete this process. When you seek the assistance of a professional clinical team, you can overcome symptoms of withdrawal and then benefit from a highly individualized, holistic treatment plan.
You must understand the potential dangers of continued use. There is little to no reliable information about how the kratom you source is grown, processed, packaged, or labeled. You do not know what you’re taking and when mixing kratom with other addictive substances, and dangerous withdrawal symptoms may result.
To safely complete the kratom withdrawal process, a tapering plan is often recommended. Dosages can be lowered over a period of time to minimize kratom withdrawal symptoms. A substance like kratom can cause various symptoms during the withdrawal period. To target these symptoms, various medications may be administered. This process is highly individualized. For example, you may require medication to help control your blood pressure.
Research shows that sublingual buprenorphine-naloxone (Suboxone) may support kratom-dependent users. Again, this is a highly individualized process as there are many considerations, including your drug use and overall health history. The medication available to you will also highly depend on the detoxification program you participate in.
Since many users begin using (and then continue abusing) kratom because it lifts mood and helps alleviate anxiety, potential pre-existing mental health conditions should be explored to ensure long-term recovery. If you suffer from a mood or anxiety disorder, ongoing therapy can help you develop the coping skills you need to develop healthier, more fulfilling strategies.
Take the Next Steps
Understanding that you have been struggling with kratom is the first step towards your road to recovery. The kratom withdrawal process is a crucial stepping stone to achieving long-term sobriety and positive mental health.
If you are ready to overcome your dependence on kratom or other substances of abuse, seek a professional treatment facility like Zinnia Healing that offers evidence-based treatment plans. The top substance abuse treatment centers will understand the value of behavioral and mental health support while remaining involved in the latest research.
The rest of your life can begin today. Don’t allow kratom withdrawal symptoms to hold you back any longer. Seek assistance to build a brighter, healthier future!