Kratom, whose scientist name is Mitragyna speciosa, is a tree that grows naturally in the countries of Southeast Asia, Thailand being one example. The leaves of the tree have natural “drug” qualities, like cannabis and other plants that are categorized or used as drugs in medicinal or recreational ways. Though kratom is not a drug banned by the government it does pose potential for abuse and addiction. In small doses it may cause a stimulating effect but in large doses it can produce sedative effect. Regular uses of the drug can lead to addiction due to the effects it can have on the brains reward system.
Kratom is an evergreen that is part of the coffee tree family and the effects are similar to morphine and other opiates or opioids. Like morphine, it is used to combat symptoms of pain when used for legitimate reasons. Thus, it would generally fall into both the pain killer and opiate family of drugs, although it is not a derivative of the opium poppy plant. Where the tree grows naturally, indigenous populations have used the drug by chewing the leaves to uplift spirits and for symptoms of many minor to moderate ailments.
Kratom is also known to some as thang, kakuam, thom, ketum, and biak.
Kratom has many forms such as being found in whole leaves, crushed leaves, powders, pellets, and even entire plants can be bought. Occasionally they are placed in to gel capsules and taken orally.
Kratom is basically taken in two forms, either by chewing on the leaves or brewing the leaves into a tea. The leaves can also be added to boiled cough syrup or boiled cola, for added flavor and variety. These methods are typical in the countries of Southeast Asia, where the tree grows naturally. Use in the United States is limited, but seems to mirror the ways the drug is used overseas. Additionally, different versions of the liquid concoction are served at coffee and tea houses.
In a quasi-legitimate form of use, laborers in Malaysia chew on the leaves of the tree during their work day, providing energy and relief from sore muscles. Kratom is often used, especially in Thailand where opium is so popular, as an opium substitute by people who cannot afford the more upscale drug or due to location do not have opium available to them. In corollary, much like there are substitute drugs and medications used for withdrawal from opiates and opioids like heroin, kratom is used in Asia to help ween people off of opium who have become addicted, which is not uncommon, and also to generally fight opium withdrawal symptoms.
Kratom basically has two different dose levels, a low dose that has more of a stimulant effect, making people jittery and talkative and energetic. When used at a high dose, the drug has a sedative effect more closely aligned with the opiates it is compared to typically. The effects are evident quickly, usually in just a few minutes after taking the drug, and can last for several hours.
Short-term side effects include nausea, itching, sweating, dry mouth, constipation, increased urination and loss of appetite. The amount of a particular dose can vary greatly as the leaves of the tree can contain different levels of the active ingredient depending on the exact area where it is grown.
As is the case with many substances, illegal or not, is the fact that prolonged use can result in addiction. This is certainly one of the long-term effects of using kratom. Other side effects of the long-term use of kratom can result in anorexia, weight loss, insomnia, skin darkening, dry mouth, frequent urination, and constipation. Tolerance and addiction will cause withdrawal symptoms if the individual ceases to use the drug or attempts to reduce the amount their body has become accustomed to receiving on a regular basis. Withdrawal symptoms can vary greatly, and can include fits of hostility, aggression, severe emotional swings (mood swings), a wet nose, achy muscles and bones and jerky movement of the body, especially the arms and legs.
The dangers of using the drug can be physical, mental, emotional, or social, with the last on the list depending on the culture you live in and the acceptability of regular use of the drug. Eating disorders, such as anorexia, are dangerous in their own right, and as using kratom can contribute to the development of the disorder, it certainly ranks as one of the dangers of use. When used in higher doses with a more opiate-like effect, the drug produces a euphoric state, which can lead to the lowering of inhibitions. When individuals enter this type of mental state, they often do things they would otherwise if they were drug free. This can include using other substances they may have never tried before, combining use of kratom with other drugs that may be dangerous in combination, and engaging in unsafe sexual acts or mischievous or illegal behavior.
In the United States, being addicted to any drug, causing you to withdraw from your social groups and shirk typical responsibilities, can result in financial, employment and family problems that can severely negatively impact a person’s life. A drug being legal, like alcohol, does not eliminate the poor choices abuse can cause a person to make.
The DEA describes Kratom as a drug of concern, and a chemical of concern but it is not controlled under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. However, just because it is legal doesn’t mean that it doesn’t pose a risk to those who abuse it and those who are addicted to it. Because it has the potential for abuse and ingestion. In the United States, kratom has not reached true street drug level, as it is primarily marketed and purchased online. Eventually, if use becomes problematic on a national level, the DEA may change its stance on whether the drug should be on the Controlled Substance list and be banned for sale and use. The fact that it is used as a replacement for opium and has similar effects at some dose levels may lead drug enforcement authorities in the U.S. and abroad in that direction. There is no legitimate medical use for kratom in the United States. In addition, DEA has listed kratom as a Drug and Chemical of Concern.”
In the end, kratom is an addictive substance that can have life-altering if not life-threatening effects on a person who uses the drug regularly. Experimentation is not a good excuse for using a drug that can endanger your health. If you have been exposed to kratom and feel you need help, you may need a porfessional detox program. There are always addiction specialists waiting to talk to you and offer you any assistance you may need. Contact a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center near you for information on abuse or addiction to kratom or any other substance.
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