Kratom has been widely available for a number of years in pill, powder, or tea form. You can find it at kava shops, gas stations, and smoke shops. It’s readily available to those who are able to purchase it. This plant, scientifically known as the “mitragyna speciosa” plant, is native to Southeast Asia. It’s a tropical tree that’s actually a part of the coffee family. The kratom plant is unique in the sense that it can act as both a stimulant and a depressant. In small doses, its effects are more stimulating. But, once an individual uses higher doses, the effects are more similar to those of a depressant. Kratom use has become fairly popular amongst those who are working to overcome opioid dependence. People have been known to use this herb as a way to combat opioid withdrawal symptoms, ending opioid dependence. Some have claimed that it actually works.
It’s true that the kratom plant has come onto the recovery scene as an alternative to opioid recovery. The more it is out there, the more it is apparent that it isn’t a good method for getting clean off of opiates.
The Truth About Opioid Recovery
Opioid recovery is no walk in the park. Drugs like Percocet, Valium, oxycodone, and heroin are extremely difficult to get off of. When a person is trying to recover from the use of these drugs, it can be extremely difficult for him or her. Many people have had little to no success on the first try. This is because relapse is almost always inevitable when you’re working towards overcoming an opioid dependence problem without professional help. Countless people have found this out the hard way. In addition to the possibility of a relapse, people who are trying to get past opioid dependence also have to face the reality of opioid withdrawal. Unfortunately, the withdrawal symptoms are so unbearable that most people who are trying to get clean relapse within a few days. Opioid withdrawal can be incredibly overwhelming for those who are attempting to end their dependence on these drugs.
Common opioid withdrawal symptoms include things like excessive yawning and extreme fatigue. But, there are also some symptoms which are very difficult to deal with, including muscle aches, cramping in the abdomen, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and insomnia. When people experience these symptoms, they may actually relapse and use their drug of choice once again in an effort to escape from the discomfort of withdrawal. Sadly, this happens in a lot of situations and countless individuals have found themselves struggling to break totally free from opioid dependence.
Because the process of opioid withdrawal can be so difficult, many individuals look for ways to rid themselves of the pain and discomfort they’re feeling. Of course, they don’t want to relapse. But they do want to feel more comfortable as they move away from substance dependence. This is the main reason why substances like the kratom herb have entered the recovery scene.
The FDA’s Stance on Kratom Use
Since kratom has come on the scene, many people who are trying to detox from opiates and remain clean have turned to kratom use. This particular herm affects the opioid receptors in the brain, so it can minimize detox symptoms and also diminish cravings. This sounds like a good aspect, doesn’t it? After all, the point of recovery is to successfully end substance abuse. If a natural herb can help to make withdrawal more comfortable, then the possibility of relapse becomes lower. This means that people don’t have to worry as much about returning to substance dependence. They can rest assured that they will be able to end the problem in their lives. Right? Well, it isn’t quite that easy.
Kratom itself is relatively unknown. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is unsure of the benefits of using kratom for medical purposes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has gone back and forth about its legal status and, so far, it is on the watch list for dangerous substances. Although it has not yet been officially deemed illegal, it’s definitely a closely watched substance as far as the FDA is concerned. In fact, the administration has posed concerns about this herb because it actually affects the same brain receptors as morphine, a very strong and addictive drug. The FDA seems to be worried that kratom will eventually prove to be habit-forming, leading to abuse or dependence problems. Even though kratom doesn’t seem to be as dangerous as heroin and other opiates, it’s still a mood-altering substance. And, during recovery, using any substance of that sort is likened to playing with fire.
Kratom and Recovery From Opioid Dependence
Truthfully, people who use kratom to kick their opioid habit might just be replacing one addiction for another. It is the same as an alcoholic switching to marijuana use, replacing alcohol misuse with the excessive use of marijuana. To many people, this switch is not harmful, especially given the “benefits” of marijuana use. It may seem like less of a danger, but it’s actually equally harmful as any type of substance dependence can lead to extremely serious problems. Some of the consequences of excessive drug and substance use can affect people for the rest of their lives.
The point of recovery is to end the use of any and all mood-altering substances. After all, what would be the advantage of stopping one drug from negatively impacting you only to be impacted by yet another substance? Also, kratom is habit forming and is known to cause unpleasant side effects when a person stops taking it. So, why use it if you are only going to grow dependent on it? Many people turn to kratom because they believe that it helps them to end the harmful and unhealthy use of opioids. It’s a sort of “at-home detox” option. But, It is much better and safer to go to a professional treatment center. There, people can learn how to truly live a lifestyle completely free of drugs and alcohol.
The Dangers of Kratom and the Importance of Treatment
Kratom is an unknown at this point. We do not yet know the effect of long-term abuse, but the evidence of its dangers is mounting as time progresses. We know for sure that it is a habit-forming and mood-altering substance. The problem with using kratom for opioid recovery is that it is like a placebo. In other words, it acts like a drug. So, you still feel like you are “getting high”. And, what happens when the kratom becomes unavailable and you crave it? Well, you’ll begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. After all, withdrawal isn’t just something you feel when you are giving up the use of alcohol, opioids, or meth. People go through withdrawal whenever they stop using any substance that their bodies had grown dependent on. So, if you find yourself in this situation, you might turn back to drug use. Of course, this wouldn’t be good.
In addition to being habit forming, kratom has been proven to have negative effects on various organs throughout the bodies of its users. Organs such as the liver have been impacted by kratom use. This substance has even been known to cause seizures in some people. It simply isn’t worth it. The best thing you can do for opioid recovery is to go to a treatment center. There, you will learn how to live a sober lifestyle without the aid of any substance whatsoever. You will also be aided through the detox process with a supervised medication regimen to ensure that you don’t abuse anything like you would be likely to do with kratom if you were on your own.
Treatment is the way to go, and substituting one addiction for another will never work. When it comes to kratom and opioid recovery, the best thing you can do is say no.
Getting Help for Opioid Dependence
Have you considered using kratom for opioid recovery? Or have you already started using this substance to help you get through the withdrawal process? If so, why not consider an alternative form of opioid detox and treatment? A safer and more helpful option is available here at Diablo Valley Drug & Alcohol Services. We offer an outpatient approach to substance use detox and treatment. This provides patients with the comfort and flexibility that they need throughout treatment, allowing them to continue taking care of work and family responsibilities. If you’re interested in learning how we can help you to safely gain and maintain freedom from opioid misuse, just contact us today!
**Posted on December 17, 2018. Updated on March 12, 2019