Kratom is a relatively new psychoactive substance being abused in the United States, leading to dependence and kratom withdrawal symptoms. Sold in health stores, smoke shops, and online specialty stores, many users assume it is a safer, natural, and legal alternative to other drugs and used for medical purposes to relieve pain. However, researchers who have studied kratom have found that its side effects and safety problems far outweigh any potential benefits.

Understanding Kratom and Its Uses

Kratom is an herbal extract derived from Mitragyna speciosa, a tree native to Southeast Asia and part of the coffee family. The leaves are crushed and then smoked, brewed into tea, or placed into gel capsules. Traditionally, it has been used during religious ceremonies and as a medicinal remedy to increase energy and alertness. Today, kratom is sold legally online and in stores across the US, marketed as a natural supplement with many health benefits.

Some people seek out kratom because they have heard of its many possible health benefits, including relieving pain and reducing opioid withdrawal symptoms. Other uses include increased energy, mood enhancement, anti-diarrheal, antidepressant, and hunger suppressant. Yet, there is little research conducted about these presumed health benefits and it is uncertain whether kratom may be effective. Research has actually found that rather than treating addiction and symptoms of withdrawal, kratom may lead to them.

While kratom is sold as a dietary supplement, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns people of its potential risks, including addiction, misuse, and dependence. Often, commercially available kratom products have high levels of addictive substances and may contain dangerous contaminants, including heavy metals and harmful bacteria.

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How Kratom Affects the Body and Mind

The effects of kratom on the body vary widely depending on the amount taken. Other factors such as method of ingestion, any existing medical conditions, interaction with other drugs present in the body, and how often it is taken can also change its effects on someone. It is considered an opioid-like substance because of its effects on the brain’s opioid receptors. Kratom takes effect after five to 10 minutes, with effects lasting two to five hours.

Consumption of kratom leaves produces a stimulant effect when taken in low doses, but in higher doses it produces a sedative effect similar to opioids and can lead to psychotic symptoms, as well as psychological and physical dependence. Some of the effects of kratom include:

  • Heightened alertness
  • Increased energy
  • Increased heart rate
  • Pain relief
  • Relaxation, including anxiety relief

Common adverse side-effects of kratom include:

  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Itching
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Tachycardia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

Long term effects have also been reported, which include darkened facial skin, dry mouth, frequent urination, frequent constipation, liver damage, and weight loss.

Common Signs of Kratom Dependence

Kratom withdrawal symptoms suggest that it may have addiction potential. There are no specific diagnostic criteria for kratom use disorder outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), but patterns associated with kratom use are similar to other substance use disorders. Also, kratom products appear to activate opioid receptors in the brain, as with other known addictive drugs, triggering the brain’s reward system and encouraging continued use.

withdrawal symptoms of kratom

Kratom can easily be mistaken as a harmless natural substance if it is legal in your area. However, studies have found that individuals who use kratom regularly, experience mild to moderate kratom withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it. As with other drugs that act on opioid receptors in the brain and cause withdrawal symptoms, kratom dependence can have devastating effects on a person’s health and life. It is vital to recognize kratom addiction symptoms early on and get professional help when needed.

Kratom dependence signs and symptoms are similar to those to other addictive substances, including:

  • Increased tolerance, meaning the need to take larger doses of kratom to achieve the same effect.
  • Excessive use, such as several times a day.
  • Developing cravings for kratom.
  • Spending more time using, acquiring, or thinking about using kratom.
  • Neglecting responsibilities due to excess kratom use.
  • Inability to stop using kratom, even when it has negatively impacted areas of your life, including work, school, relationships, and health.
  • Lying about how much kratom is being consumed.
  • Using kratom in dangerous situations, such as driving or operating heavy machinery.
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities once enjoyed.
  • Decreased productivity at school or work.
  • Developing kratom withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop use.

Early Symptoms of Kratom Withdrawal

Kratom withdrawal symptoms are an indication that physical dependence has developed. With kratom overuse, the body becomes used to having the substance present and produces regulatory mechanisms to counteract the effects of kratom and maintain homeostasis.  Once the drug is removed from the system, it takes the body some time to stop producing those counteracting chemicals and the person develops withdrawal symptoms.

Similar to opioid withdrawal, early kratom withdrawal signs can vary from person to person. The amount used and extent of kratom use can also factor into intensity of symptoms. As with other addictive substances, withdrawal symptoms will start off more mild and escalate over the first day. The symptoms include excessive sweating, cravings, and increased anxiety. Other symptoms include:

  • Joint, muscle, and/or bone pain.
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Visual distortions
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Fever

Physical Symptoms of Kratom Withdrawal

Individuals who have developed moderate to severe kratom dependence, commonly experience the following physical withdrawal symptoms from kratom:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Hot flashes
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea and abdominal cramps
  • Tremors and twitching
  • Muscle aches and other body pains
  • Hypertension

Psychological Symptoms of Kratom Withdrawal

Kratom withdrawal symptoms can also include psychological effects, such as:

  • Increased cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Anger and irritability
  • Depression, with or without suicidal ideation
  • Dysphoria (a general sense of unease or unhappiness)
  • Insomnia or disturbed sleep
  • Mood swings
  • Hallucinations

Duration and Timeline of Kratom Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms from kratom begin around 12 hours after last use. From roughly 12 to 24 hours users may experience fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, body pains, fever, and visual distortions. During the next two or three days, depression may set in as well as intensifying cravings, tremors and shaking start, and insomnia, lack of appetite, and dehydration can worsen. Fever and visual distortions usually stabilize during these days as well.

During days 4 through 7, kratom withdrawal symptoms such as abdominal and other body pains will decrease gradually. Fever, tremors, and coordination issues may resolve around the fourth day. However, nausea can persist during this time. After two weeks, most physical symptoms resolve but anxiety, depression, and cravings can persist for longer periods.

Treatment Options for Kratom Withdrawal at WhiteSands Treatment

After acute kratom withdrawal symptoms have resolved, individuals are at the highest risk of relapse. As the memory of discomfort fades, psychological symptoms and cravings persist, individuals may have a strong urge to use kratom again. Seeking out professional help can provide the support and treatment needed to prevent relapse in the long run.

WhiteSands Treatment offers comprehensive kratom addiction treatment across Florida. Patients are able to receive a full continuum of care, including detox, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and aftercare assistance. Our treatment programs for kratom dependence address the underlying causes while providing patients the ability to gain the tools and skills necessary to overcome substance abuse long-term.

If you or a loved one are struggling with kratom addiction or kratom withdrawal symptoms, please reach out to us at (877) 855-3470 to talk to one of our addiction specialists to learn more about our personalized treatment programs.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.