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Are There Risks of Kratom Addiction?

Can you develop a Kratom addiction if you use too much of this plant product? Kratom leaves from the Mitragyna Speciosa tree are today being sold in powder or extract format as mood boosters, energy pills and herbal pain relievers. Kratom is a close relative of the coffee tree and has been found to contain alkaloids that both stimulate the mind at low doses while sedating you at higher doses. This plant is being used as a natural analgesic among individuals wary of prescription medications for pain as well as feel-good supplement by people suffering from depression and anxiety. In traditional Asian cultures, the psychoactive benefits of Kratom tea have long been recognized and the leaves are used to boost productivity among workers. It has also been used to treat withdrawal symptoms in patients addicted to opiates as well as heroin.

Is Kratom Addictive?

But there are some voices out there warning against the use of Kratom for fear that it can cause an addiction and eventual withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it. In one article, a writer cautioned, “Parents, listen up — there’s a drug out there that you probably haven’t heard of before but it could leave your kids addicted.” With a warning like that, it’s no wonder that the general public has a fairly unfavorable impression when it comes to using Kratom even in legitimate medical contexts. If you ask most of the uninformed public, they will tell you that Kratom is just another addictive street drug, claiming victims left, right and center. But this count not be further from the truth. Kratom is not addictive and does not lead to withdrawal symptoms, except when egregiously abused.

First off, we should clarify exactly what it means to be addicted to a substance like Kratom. Under the technical definition, an addiction is a physical dependence on some substance that creates a strong and harmful need to this thing regularly. Addiction causes a literal rewiring of circuits in your brain that makes you dependent on constantly having some chemical compound. Kratom is not addictive in this sense, making it quite different from other natural pain medicines or drugs like opium and heroin. However, Kratom may be habit forming or cause some type of psychological dependence if it is continuously abused for long periods of time. It is pretty clear that yes there have been cases of Kratom habits recorded around the world. But these cases are extremely rare and are usually the result of taking excessive amounts for long periods of time.

The five biggest misconceptions about kratom in the media

When kratom appears in the media, it is often described in a negative way and associated with other substances that it has nothing to do with. Clearly, kratom is still relatively unknown in the western world and this seems to contribute to some general misunderstandings. But by comparing the herb to opiates, as some journalists do, or talking about abuse and addiction as though this is somehow related to kratom, the users of this gentle herb are being negatively stigmatized as well. So below we show the most frequently occurring misconceptions about kratom, that appeared in the media the last few months.


Misconception 1: kratom is a substance of abuse.

Kratom usage rarely, if ever, leads to the situation where usage results in negative effects for the user or for his friends and family. Kratom has never been responsible for a police call, poison control center call, traffic accident, death or any other form of societal disruption. Kratom does not cause crimes. It does not cause aggressive behavior. It doesn’t cause people to become impaired and lose their inhibitions. It poses precisely zero threat to society.

Kratom is also not a “street drug alternative,” despite the fact that a few ignorant vendors try to market it as such. Those who do use kratom as a “legal high” or drug substitute are invariably disappointed, and likely move on to something else (although it should be noted that it poses no risk even to those who would try to use it for such purposes). But kratom users are, in fact, mainly middle-aged and well-educated folks who mostly use it as an alternative to deal with depression, anxiety, pain, addiction or other ailments.

Misconception 2: kratom is not safe.

In case the thousands of years of safe usage are not sufficient to prove its safety, one can check the scientific reports of its toxicity as well. Compared to stimulants and prescription medication, kratom is relatively much safer. Besides this, kratom also contains a wide range of beneficial compounds, including immuno-stimulants, anti-hypertensives, antileukemics, antioxidants, vasodilators, analgesics, antitussives and more. Again, considering the number of people that have used kratom, how many incidents have been reported? Yes, zero to none.

Misconception 3: kratom is addictive

Kratom can be habit-forming for some. That should be acknowledged freely. But the distinction that must be made, and often fails to be reflected in media reports, is that there are profoundly varying degrees of habit-forming potential. Kratom’s habit forming potential is in the same league as that of coffee. People drink coffee, at least in part, because they enjoy the subtle caffeine boost. They enjoy it, so they continue to drink it often. After they have become accustomed to drinking it for some period of time, it’s natural that it may be difficult at first should they decide to give it up. This is much the same with kratom.

Misconception 4: kratom has no medical value.

Since the media often report negative assumptions, the real reasons why people use kratom are completely being ignored or even denied. But one look at our kratom testimonials, will show that there are many great benefits to its usage. For example, Kratom is an excellent pain reliever. It isn’t hepatotoxic in the way that acetaminophen and other pain relievers are, and it doesn’t have the serious risk of addiction and the mentally and emotionally numbing effects of opiate-based pain relievers. For many people, it’s the best pain reliever that they’ve found and it allows them to regain the life that chronic pain took away.

Kratom is a general stimulant and an effective anxiolytic. While it’s not a long-term treatment for depression or anxiety, it does help with both in the short term, and it doesn’t have the various risks and side effects that antidepressants and anxiety medications have.

Kratom is an exceptional aid for overcoming addiction. For many people, it still is the only thing that has ever truly worked. From alcohol to prescription drugs or heroin, countless people have used kratom to rid themselves of their addictions and regain control of their lives. It contains for example the compound rhynchophylline, also found in cat’s claw that possesses NMDA antagonistic qualities, which are proven to disrupt addiction and habituation.

Misconception 5: kratom even had to be banned in Thailand, where it came from.

This is often is used in media as some kind of reference: if it isn’t legal there, why should it be here?  Traditional usage in Thailand dates back to early mankind. One of its tradtional applications was as an alternative among those battling with opium addiction, and controversially this lead to the kratom ban in Thialand in 1943 as we have explained here. The ban had a lot to do with corruption, and very little with concerns about public health. Today there is a growing number of people who plea for a decriminaliziation of kratom. Like , Pennapa Sapcharoen, director of the National Institute of Thai Traditional Medicine in Bangkok who said that kratom “could be prescribed both for opiate dependence and to patients suffering from depression”  And a recent report from the Transnational Institute and Thai Narcotic control Board, who concluded that “Kratom is an integral part of southern Thai culture” and furthermore “Criminalisation of kratom is unnecessary and counter-productive given decades of non-problematic use”. And who have recommended that in the absence of health and social harms, kratom usage should be  decriminalized.

Considering these last recommendations, it is suprising that the western media does not have a more open mind towards kratom, especially considering the growing amount of users who clearly benefit from it, as can be seen in the hundreds of comments here for example.

Is Mitragyna speciosa Kratom habit-forming or not?

As previously explained in the section “Pharmacology and mode of action of Mitragyna speciosa Kratom” as well as in the “Potential applications and modern uses of Mitragyna speciosa Kratom” section, Mitragyna speciosa Kratom actually has a strong potential as a substance to help with the detoxification process and withdrawal symptoms of opiates and opioids addiction.

A specific quality induced by Mitragyna speciosa Kratom’s rather unique mode of action, which apparently only has a partial binding action on μ opioid receptors, as well as on the balance of the plant’s complex chemical makeup- which alleviates opioid addiction symptoms without replacing it with another full fledged addiction.

Yet if Mitragyna speciosa Kratom has even a partial action on opioid receptors, and induces a related pleasurable opiate like euphoria, can Kratom use be potentially addictive ?

Let’s say that, to a certain extent, almost any psychoactive substance can be habit forming, and that Mitragyna speciosa Kratom is no exception. Unlike opiates, however, Mitragyna speciosa Kratom does not produce a strong physical addiction, especially at the doses and regimen of use of conscientious non-traditional users outside of South-East Asia.

Although a small number of people have apparently become dependent on Mitragyna speciosa Kratom (condition which is primarily described on material coming from the Thai studies already discussed, and therefore to be taken with a pinch of salt), one can reasonably say that Kratom is not habit forming when it is used responsibly, with moderation. A statement which is relative to both frequency of use as well as to doses.

We do have some elements on forms of “Kratom addiction”, which come from personal reports of non-traditional users who experimented with regular and high dosage use of Mitragyna speciosa Kratom- which again is clearly not recommended- and then stopped.

This kind of experimentation has already been done, and it is clear that this is neither recommendable nor the best way to enjoy Kratom. The symptoms of such “Kratom withdrawals”, after heavy frequent use were described as unpleasant, and somewhat comparable to a miniature / mild opiate ( such as codeine) withdrawal, with much less craving or physical problems, yet still quite unpleasant.

Through heavy and regular use of Mitragyna speciosa Kratom, a form of stabilized tolerance can easily be built, implying that one needs to use more Kratom to feel its positive effects. Yet there does not seem to be any physical craving for Kratom, or for any of its active alkaloids, much unlike opiates.

After prolonged and intense daily use of Mitragyna speciosa Kratom for a year, some minor physical “withdrawals” symptoms will be felt upon stopping to use. Yet they are nowhere in the same league as opiates or opioids, such as heroin or methadone.

These mild Kratom “withdrawal” symptoms are also non systematic, not necessarily appearing, and last four to five days when they do. Some people have also mentioned mild depression following cessation of these physical symptoms.

The most significant Kratom “withdrawal” symptom, following a brutal cessation of heavy regular use, is probably a generalized, severe and overwhelming fatigue, which can get very intense, along with a form of contrasting inner agitation and restlessness (akathisia).

This is a very disagreeable state, especially due to the combination with fatigue, for one feels that it is unpleasant to sit still, while at the same time feeling too tired and lacking of energy to move around. This state generally lasts around 4 days.

During these 4 days, some short-lasting, minor symptoms have been reported, such as chills, runny eyes and nose, diarrhea, fatigue, aggression, and slight muscle pains- but nothing comparable to the strength of opiates withdrawals or the physical degradation mentioned in the studies already discussed… At the end of these 4 days, a little depression might be felt in some Mitragyna speciosa Kratom users.

As explained in the “Guidelines for a safe and pleasant use of Mitragyna speciosa Kratom” section, it is important to keep Kratom use really recreational, and NOT to get into the habit of using it every day, as a prolonged daily usage could become a form of hard to break habit ( as with coffee or tobacco).

Addiction potential is also most likely to be dose related, for it seems probable that if used in doses high enough for stronger μ receptor crossover, addiction becomes a stronger possibility.

Animal studies (Matsumoto et al.) have demonstrated a Kratom cross-tolerance with morphine, and naloxone precipitated withdrawal from 7-hydroxymitragynine, data which could theoretically be used to demonstrate an addiction potential similar to opiates but again: pure alkaloids (7-hydroxymitragynine, not Mitragyna speciosa Kratom leaf products) were used, and theses results were never confirmed by reports or studies of long term human use…

When experimenting with Mitragyna speciosa Kratom, one should be careful and responsible, and it is a good idea to set up usage guidelines, which one will follow, and to monitor frequency and quantities used.

One should really not use Mitragyna speciosa Kratom more than once a week.
Preferably, one should not use Mitragyna speciosa Kratom more than once or twice a month, in order to make sure that Kratom use stays a real occasional pleasure, and that use does not become problematic in any way.

In other words, Mitragyna speciosa Kratom should be reserved as a special, but OCCASIONAL treat. By using it infrequently, and keeping use within such define guidelines, one will avoid habituation and genuinely get more pleasure from Kratom.

If one should EVER find that it becomes hard to stay within the set usage guidelines or to control one’s use, one should use common sense and stop using Mitragyna speciosa Kratom products immediately, either completely or for a minimum of 3 months.

Is Kratom Addicting?

My Kratom Addiction:
Is Kratom Addicting?

Although I am not trumpeting my present personal feelings on Kratom and Kratom addiction, I do feel that I am one of the more qualified people to comment on this very hotly debated topic. And, the answers may surprise you so much so, that you may think I am not being honest with myself or you. But, the truth couldn’t be more vivid and accurate than it is explained here.

In short, I’ve been an avid fan of Kratom for around 4 years now. I started working with it on Fridays or Saturdays only, as a way to unwind and relax from the week. I was strict in my consumption; taking an exact ½ of a teaspoon of the Standardized 15x Kratom Extract each time, with no variance one way or the other. This, I would enjoy with 2 or 3 drinks over the course of an evening, and this is all I needed.

I did this for quite some time; almost a year, and the intensity of the effects of the Kratom mixed with a few drinks of alcohol over the course of the evening never lessened. I didn’t feel the need to increase my dose, and this I found somewhat surprising. I was also told that this unique herbal supplement is quite effective when one is sick; helping to alleviate some of the discomforts of being ill. What I found was that it not only helped my day pass more comfortably, but when I took Kratom while having work that needed to get done…I realized why this is/was so popular among the working class in Thailand!

Somehow, it helped me to focus more clearly on my task at hand, making the work feel a little less tedious as well. It helped to make time pass more quickly, while helping me to focus on getting my work done; all from this versatile herbal supplement. It reminded me of my favorite experiences with Kava Kava, except Kava Kava was more relaxing, where Kratom seemed to energize me towards my work.

So, these events triggered my curiosity, and I wanted to see if I could get myself addicted to Kratom, or to at least see if Kratom could be addicting.

The first thing I did, was stop taking Kratom for 2 weeks. I know the amounts I was taking were quite small, but I wanted to be sure in every way I could think to be sure. I felt absolutely no “withdrawal” symptoms whatsoever. Not surprising. After the 2 weeks, I started to take Kratom, in ¾ teaspoon amounts, every other day, but not with any alcohol. This I did for 1 month; a time that would be long enough for me to become “addicted” to the Kratom extract.

Once the weeks was up, I once again stopped “cold turkey” for 2 weeks. Again, there were no signs or symptoms of any kind of withdrawal whatsoever. I am extremely sensitive to changes in my body, and am quite certain that I would notice a difference, even if it were miniscule.

No cravings, no shakes, no unclear thought or blurred vision or anything else whatsoever that I could call a symptom. Mind you, I waited until 6:00PM every night, so regardless of my personal research, it would not interfere with my job in any way.

The thing that I DID miss from my “Kratom nights” during the 2 weeks that I went “cold turkey” from taking it, is that I missed the energizing clarity and focus that it would provide me with, whether it was writing, doing “after school” work for my job, or even something as simple as taking my bike out for an evening ride.

So, still no signs of addiction, no cravings, and no desires to increase the ¾ of a teaspoon dose to anything more than the ¾ of a teaspoon.

Next, I decided to work with this more and more curious herbal supplement every day of the week, for 6 weeks straight. It became a ritual; every night at 6:00PM, as long as my responsibilities for my job were taken care of, I would take my usual ¾ of a teaspoon. I also would take a shot of vodka with my ¾ to wash it down, and as a little extra “kick” to my evenings. If I were going to get addicted, this seemed like PLENTY of Kratom use to get to that elusive place.

So, the 6 weeks passed with nothing interesting to report, other than an extreme familiarity with the sensation of Kratom extract and how it works with my body. I enjoyed every evening as much as any other, but really liked how the Kratom “heightened” my normal experience just a bit. I would guess that this is the reason why people drink alcohol, or coffee, or smoke cigarettes…it gives you a little break from the normal mode of consciousness, relieving a little stress, making your day just a little more enjoyable and sometimes; a little more tolerable.

I was a little more nervous about the 2 weeks of “cold turkey” this time around. I anxiously waited for 6:00PM to roll around, but found that the evening passed, and much later into the evening, there was no physical discomfort or craving whatsoever. Something that was quite apparent, was that I missed my nightly ritual; I missed the clarity it gave me and the slightly heightened sense of awareness.

The best way to explain this sensation is to compare it to waking up and looking forwards to my morning cup of coffee; it’s more than the coffee and the caffeine; it’s a ritual that makes me feel good, while giving me a boost…it’s the taste, the process, and it’s a little treat in my day. This is how I had come to think of my nightly dose of Kratom, but I certainly couldn’t honestly say that I could call that a Kratom addiction.

The 2 weeks passed, and there was no difference in any of my sensations, other than missing my daily ritual. No cravings crept up, no signs of physical addiction reared its head…nothing.

Once that experiment was done, I then embarked on what was in my mind, partially because of the expense I would have to deal with, was the most ambitious personal test yet; I would eat my ¾ of a teaspoon of this herbal supplement in the morning with my coffee, in the afternoon, and again at night. Obviously I couldn’t carry this on for too long due to the cost, but I managed to do it for a solid 4 weeks.

During the 4 weeks of 3 times a day, I have to say that I didn’t enjoy the sensation all day every day. I enjoy my world around me, and the constant dose of Kratom felt like it was getting in the way, much in the same way, though, that coffee makes me feel if I drink it all day every day. Sometimes I actually woke up looking forward to my cup of coffee, but not looking forward to having to take my morning dose of Kratom. This didn’t seem much like addiction; this seemed more like anti-addiction!

I limit myself to coffee in the morning, and I do feel that if I decided to drink coffee 3 times a day as I was doing with the Kratom, that my “withdrawal” from the coffee would actually be more intense than the Kratom. So again, the 2 weeks of “cold turkey” came around, and I waited for symptoms and changes.

This time, I did notice an “anxiousness” after the first day of not taking my Kratom. This was a first, but I feel as though I had found what I was looking for. It wasn’t intolerable by any stretch, but it was certainly noticeable. I found myself craving some Kratom; not a lot, I just started playing a game with myself that went something like this; “Maybe cold turkey isn’t the best plan…maybe I should wean myself off, after all, I don’t want to risk my health at all.”

You get the idea. But, part of wanting to know if I could get “addicted” to Kratom, was knowing what might happen if I actually was able to accomplish that task. I was certain I knew.

The next day rolled around, and I was curious how I would feel. I was wondering if the symptoms would increase, but they didn’t, at all, actually. I still felt a little anxious, but it was felt more, in my opinion, because I was paying such close attention to it. In fact, my anxiousness may have been caused more out of curiosity and concern over what my “Kratom addiction” might feel like, rather than feeling any “withdrawal” symptoms from it whatsoever.

So, as the second day went on, I felt quite normal, and simply missed, far more than my 3 times a day dose; my once a day or once every other day dose. I was done with my personal experiment, and decided that 3 times per day wouldn’t ever happen in my world again.

But now, I wondered what would happen over a long period of time of Kratom consumption. I know there are a few reports about the skin turning a yellowish color, but 2 years later, I had no such symptom.

So, it was back to ¾ of a teaspoon and every other night to a few nights in a row, to every night for a month, to a couple of days to a week off, and every option in-between. I tried a little more, but never more than 1 teaspoon of the Standardized 15x Extract, and rarely any less than the ½ teaspoon dose I started with. I sometimes tried it with alcohol, and sometimes with my favorite herbal smoke, and sometimes all three.

This went on for the next 2 years, and recently, it came time to go “cold turkey” for 2 weeks again, mostly out of curiosity. Over the past couple of years, I didn’t lose my job; I actually got promoted because of my work, much of which was done at home, and while enjoying my evening dose of Kratom, nothing in my family life pr personal life whatsoever was a “mess” or “falling apart” whatsoever. I was functioning like any other normal human being, but instead of reaching for coffee or cigarettes or highly addicting and dangerous alcohol as a vice; I reach for my ¾ teaspoon of Kratom Extract.

I know some are actually hoping that Kratom is some terribly addicting new “legal high” that they can sensationalize on the news, completely ignoring true dangers like alcohol, tobacco, and the number one abused things in America right now; pharmaceuticals, as usual, demonizing this easily-available herbal supplement that is on the open market, rather than forced, like so many other natural products, into the underground, to be adulterated, criminalized, and turned into something that it certainly is not.

So, I can’t speak for anyone but myself, and I know that just like anything any of us choose to put into our bodies, that others may have a different reaction to this herbal product, but even aspirin, which we all think is so safe…actually kills 27,000 humans per year, which is about 27,000 more people than Kratom has been documented as killing over its entire 3,000 year history of safe use.

- K. Edley
Verified Kratom Addict (Even if only in my mind..)