What is Kratom Withdrawal?
Kratom is a highly controversial herb. On one hand, we have studies showing just how beneficial this Asian herb is while on the other, we have a few reports talking about how harmful it can be and its potentially addictive nature. This has made it increasingly difficult for most people especially beginners to understand whether Kratom is even worth using in the first.
The truth is Kratom is indeed beneficial. This plant originates from Southeast Asia where it has been used for centuries for the treatment of different medical conditions. Its popularity in the western world caught up in recent years but it’s already facing legal battles. Some countries have banned the importation and use of Kratom products. In the United States, the FDA is yet to place a ban on Kratom although there are a few reports of Kratom imports getting ceased.
Other than the legal issues facing Kratom, one thing that all users or potential users of Kratom need to be aware of is Kratom withdrawal. The active ingredients in Kratom are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine have both sedative and stimulant effects depending on the doses one consumes. Just like opioid drugs, Kratom also interacts with opioid receptors in the brain. Some people are known to use Kratom as a replacement of other hard opioid drugs. While this may save some people from worse medical effects, it still remains an issue because it is just like replacing one terrible addiction with another addiction which isn’t as worse but bad nonetheless.
Therefore, when abused for a prolonged period, Kratom can lead to serious withdrawal issues some of which can escalate into serious complications.
Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms
According to a report published in the Biomed Research International, Kratom has a half-life of between 3 to 4 hours. Therefore, the drug is usually out of one’s system in approximately 6-8 hours and this opens the door for withdrawal symptoms to start.
Kratom works in almost the same way as opioid drugs and hence their withdrawal symptoms are mostly similar. Reports show that the initial symptoms are normally a runny nose, insomnia, sweating, yawning, anxiety, and restlessness. This initial stage is also known as Acute Stage and it usually lasts for between one to seven days. The symptoms at this stage can get even worse especially if you took high doses of Kratom for extended periods. In such cases, you may end up experiencing muscle aches, stomach pain, tremors, spiked body temperature, watery eyes, diarrhea, chills, depression, dizziness, headaches, hypersensitivity, and restless legs.
The alkaloids introduced into your body by Kratom usually leave the body in six days. This means that the above symptoms will start disappearing within this period. In the most extreme cases, the symptoms will only go for 10 days.
The next phase is known as the Intermediary stage. Here, the person starts feeling a bit better. Physical symptoms of withdrawal are normally absent but the individual may still be suffering psychologically. The most common symptoms at this stage are cravings, depression, fatigue, anxiety and muscle cramps. This stage should end by day 10 or 12 max.
Then we have the third phase commonly referred to as the post-acute stage. Not everyone will get to this stage but if you consumed extremely high doses of Kratom or used the drug for too long then you will go through this phase. The post-acute phase is marked by psychological symptoms which can show up at any point within six months or a year after you have stopped using Kratom. Exhaustion and nausea may also be experienced at this stage. It will take some time for your brain to adapt to the absence of Kratom in your system after which you should get your normal life back.
Kratom Withdrawal Complications
Most people usually experience the above withdrawal symptoms and recover with the use of regular medications and help from therapists. Sadly, some people have to deal with Kratom withdrawal symptoms the hard way.
Excessive use of Kratom can lead to severe hallucinations, delusions, vomiting, and seizures. A closely-monitored detox is necessary for such situations.
To reduce the possibility of such complications, Kratom addicts are also advised to stop taking Kratom slowly and over some time. If you did so suddenly, your brain is likely to react harshly thus increasing the risk of severe complication. You must, therefore, give your brain some time to adjust slowly to the decreasing amounts of the herb before you stop taking it completely.
Factors that influence the severity of Kratom withdrawal
As you may already know, the severity of Kratom withdrawal symptoms and how long they will last vary from one person to another. This is because different people react differently to the herb and a few other factors will also play a role in determining both the severity and the timeline of the Kratom withdrawal symptoms. Here are some of these factors:
- How long Kratom was abused – The longer the time you abuse this herb the more dependent you’ll become to the drug and this means that quitting will also become very difficult.
- How much Kratom was used – As you can guess, using high doses of Kratom is very likely to increase dependence on the herb. Using the herb more frequently will also increase dependence on the drug. Therefore, if you quit after using lots of Kratom for so long, the withdrawal symptoms are likely to be very intense.
- Other medical and mental health conditions – People with other medical or mental health conditions are likely to have a more difficult time quitting Kratom. If you are using Kratom as a replacement of other harder opioid drugs, the withdrawal symptoms are also likely to be harsher. Such cases require specialized care to help the addict recover comfortably.
- Polydrug abuse – individuals who have already developed a dependence on polysubstance involving Kratom, alcohol and other drugs are likely to have more complicated withdrawal symptoms. Such people should also be supervised closely by detox professionals.
- Genetics – If you are coming from a line of substance addiction, you are also likely to have a difficult recovery from Kratom abuse. The recovery and withdrawal symptoms are also likely to be brutal if you have a prior history of substance abuse.
- Environmental factors – Surrounding factors will also affect how harsh the withdrawal symptoms will be and how long they will last. High levels of stress and trauma are some of the factors that may worsen or prolong the withdrawal symptoms.
Some of the Kratom withdrawal symptoms can become life-threatening. The psychotic effects such as hallucinations and paranoid delusions together with the risk of seizures are too serious for anyone to take lightly. It’s for that reason that it always recommended that Kratom addicts go through medical detox. Here, they will get assistance from a licensed professional who will ensure that the recovery is as smooth as possible and achieved in the most efficient way possible.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there still aren’t any specific medications for treating Kratom addiction. Instead, most medical practitioners use the drugs used for treating opioid addiction. The two substances affect the body in almost a similar manner and hence the medications are also likely to work in the same way.
Insomnia and other psychological symptoms are usually treated using antidepressants and sleep aids like antihistamines and trazodone while blood pressure medications such as clonidine are used to treat some of the physical symptoms. Vitamins and supplements may also be prescribed to help in restoring healthy nutritional levels.
The psychological symptoms of Kratom withdrawal can also be very dangerous. Some people may even develop self-harming behaviors. With the help of mental health professionals, such individuals will get sufficient support and medication which will ensure that they remain safe and regain a healthy life.
There are also great support programs that help to recover addicts to avoid relapse. Your detox professional can recommend you to one or you can find them through online platforms.