Kratom is a tropical tree whose leaves are used as a drug. It has a long history of use in Southeast Asia but more recently has started to be used in the US.
The effects of kratom are not very well studied, however kratom users report experiences of euphoria and pain relief. There is growing concern over the safety of Kratom as there has been an increase in hospital visits and deaths as a result of it.
Kratom tea is the most popular way of taking the drug in Southeast Asia, but in the US, you can also get kratom powder to smoke or snort.
It is important to understand the effects of snorting and smoking kratom and how you can get support if you or a loved one has a kratom drug addiction. Snorting and smoking kratom are particularly dangerous ways of taking the drug and they lead to additional long-term damage so support should be found as soon as possible
What is Kratom?
Kratom, also known as Mitragyna speciosa is a tree of the coffee family native to Southeast Asia. There is a long history of using the leaves of the tree in traditional medicine. It has also been used by Thai and Malaysian workers to increase energy and stamina.
In Southeast Asia, Kratom is commonly known as thang, kakuam, thom, ketum, and biak.
Effects of Kratom in the Brain
Kratom’s effects are dose-dependent. At low doses, it has stimulatory effects, while at high doses it has opioid-like sedative and euphoric effects.
There are more than twenty-five alkaloids responsible for these effects. The main one of these is mitragynine which makes up approximately 66% of the alkaloid content.
Mitragynine acts on opioid receptors in the central nervous system. It is also known to act on dopamine and serotonin receptors. The exact interactions with these receptors are not yet clear as it has not been studied widely.
Is Kratom a Controlled Substance?
Due to the effects of kratom not being studied much, kratom is not controlled under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. However, there are state regulations; for example, it is illegal in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Rhode Island.
Kratom has also been listed as a Drug and Chemical of Concern by the DEA and has not been approved for any medical use by the FDA.
In the US, kratom is sold as alternative medicine so kratom vendors include health and alternative medicine stores.
In low doses, it is not thought that kratom has a high risk of causing strong dependency. However, one study showed that over half of more than two hundred regular kratom users had developed severe dependence problems and just under half showed moderate dependence.
Dependence is where the body and brain think that they cannot function normally without the drug. When you stop taking it, you experience withdrawal symptoms.
Ways to Take Kratom
Kratom is taken in many different ways. It can be chewed as fresh kratom leaves, infused in water to make kratom tea, or ground into a powder which can be taken as an extract, in a pill, snorted, smoked, or mixed with fruit juice or yoghurt to reduce the bitter taste.
Smoking and Snorting Kratom
Snorting and smoking kratom increases the speed at which it reaches the bloodstream. This increases the risk of addiction, overdose, and death. Smoking kratom leads to very quick effects because the drug is absorbed straight into your bloodstream along with oxygen and crosses the blood-brain barrier rapidly.
Snorting and smoking kratom exposes you to additional short-term and long-term damage such as damage to the nose, throat, and upper respiratory system. It is also thought that the excessive heat produced when smoking it might damage the effective alkaloids making it more difficult to know what dose you have taken. This can increase the risk of overdose as you are not sure how much you need to take.
Effects of Snorting Kratom
- Trouble breathing
- Nose and throat irritation
- Nasal blockage
- Nasal inflammation
- Damage to mucous membranes
- Damage to the nasal cavity
- Sinus infections
- Respiratory tract infection
- Blood clots in lungs
Because there is a lot of cellulose and plant fiber even in kratom powder, you might need to snort more of the drug than expected to get high.
Effects of Smoking Kratom
Like smoking other drugs or tobacco, smoking kratom causes increased risk of:
- Lung disease
Kratom leaves have naturally high tar content so chemicals are released into your lungs when you smoke it.
Snorting and smoking kratom are the most dangerous ways of taking the drug. They cause long-term side effects in addition to the normal effects of kratom. It also is difficult to know what dose you have taken.
Effects of Kratom
While snorting and smoking kratom have specific damaging effects, it is also important to understand the effects kratom has in general as these will also be present when you snort or smoke it.
Research on kratom is limited so some of the effects of kratom are based on anecdotal evidence. However, there have been studies that give evidence for the following effects.
Kratom’s effects vary based on the dose. At low doses, it has stimulant-like effects, whereas as high doses create opiate-like effects.
- Increased energy
- Heightened libido
- Increased heart rate
- Physical energy
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Increased urination
- Nausea, vomiting
- Low blood pressure
- Loss of motor coordination
- Increased heart rate
Long-Term Kratom Use
- Weight loss
- Sleep disturbances
- Dark spots on the skin
- Appetite loss
- Increased urination
- Dry mouth
- Tremors, shaking
- Impaired memory
Hepatotoxicity is damage to the liver. There have been several case reports of this following kratom use.
Seizure and Coma
There have been reports of seizures in people who took kratom. These were cases where it co-occurred with another substance abuse disorder such as alcohol or opioid addiction.
While some people think that kratom can be used to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms, there has been a case of this leading to death.
Effects of Mixing Kratom with Other Substances
Mixing kratom with other drugs can have adverse effects. It is especially dangerous to mix kratom with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and opioid drugs. Mixing with MAOIs can cause fatal respiratory depression or severe high blood pressure leading to stroke and heart failure. Mixing with opioids causes increased sedation, respiratory depression, and even death.
It is also dangerous to mix kratom with ibuprofen as kratom’s analgesic effects can be potentiated with kratom use.
If you want to quit kratom, the first step is detox. Detox is when you stop taking kratom and allow the drug toxins to leave your body. The length of detox is generally defined by how long withdrawal symptoms last.
Withdrawal symptoms can be very unpleasant and occur when you have developed a dependency. Symptoms of kratom withdrawal are both physical and psychological.
- Watery eyes and runny nose
- Muscle pain
- Hot flashes
- Decreased appetite
- Jerky movements of the limbs
- Anger and aggression
- Inability to work
If you suspect that you or a loved one has a substance use disorder, there are many places you can seek support, including our treatment center, Alina Lodge.
We understand that the causes for and recovery from addiction are different for everyone.
We offer a range of different support including:
- Family therapy so that the whole family can understand how addiction affects every family member and teach strategies for dealing with conflict and crisis
- EMDR therapy to treat mental health problems if you have a co-occurring disorder
- Grief therapy if your addiction is linked to grieving
We offer a residential treatment program where you stay on our campus from twenty-eight days up to two years.
If you are ready to reach out for support or would like further information please call us on 908 224 9099 or visit our website.