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Long-Term Side Effects of Kratom

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
The editorial staff of American Addiction Centers is made up of credentialed clinical reviewers with hands-on experience in or expert knowledge of addiction treatment.

Kratom is a substance that many people may not be familiar with. The leaves of a tree native to Southeast Asia, kratom has seen a rise in popularity in recent years, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Currently not an illicit substance, kratom can be ordered online in leaf or powdered form relatively easily. Packaging of the substance is often labeled as “not for human consumption,” but people often ingest the drug for recreational use. Kratom has seen use in an attempt to mitigate symptoms of opioid withdrawal, though research has not found this to be concretely effective.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is working on classifying the active materials in kratom as Schedule I substances, which would make certain forms of kratom illegal. Currently, the DEA can seize kratom in most forms other than its natural leaf form. The Food and Drug Administration has placed a ban on the import of kratom, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Side Effects

Kratom is often used for the short-term effects the substance can have on a person. Users have reported experiences of euphoria within about 10 minutes of ingestion, and the effects have been known to last approximately 90 minutes. Other short-term effects can be increased alertness and increased sociability.

While there are positive short-term effects, there are also negative effects experienced in the long-term from repeated use. According to Healthline, constipation is a common side effect of Kratom use. This means that bowel movements become infrequent and difficult to pass, and it can lead to painful defecation. While this is not normally a serious condition, it can prove rather uncomfortable for an individual.

Long-term use of kratom can also lead to a loss of appetite, significant weight loss, and even anorexia. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that involves the restriction of caloric intake, which can result in extreme and dangerous weight loss. This can be extremely hazardous to the health of an individual, and it can even lead to death.

Other effects associated with kratom use include insomnia and hyperpigmentation of the cheeks, which occurs when patches of the skin become darker than the normal pigment of other areas. Kratom users have also experienced nausea, sweating, and itching in response to ingestion of the substance.

Long-term effects of kratom use haven’t been extensively studied, so the true extent of long-term, chronic use is not fully known.

The drug has been banned in several countries, such as Thailand, due to its addiction potential, illustrating the danger of long-term repeated use.

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Kratom Addiction

Addiction is perhaps the most dangerous of the long-term effects regarding the use of kratom. Physical dependence on kratom can occur over time, similar to the dependence that occurs with opioids. As with most drugs, withdrawal symptoms may appear if a physically dependent individual does not have enough of the substance in their system. These symptoms include:

  • Aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hostile attitude
  • Insomnia

Addiction to kratom is treated in a similar manner as addiction to other substances. This generally involves supervised medical detox and behavioral therapy.

Last Updated on July 21, 2021
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
The editorial staff of American Addiction Centers is made up of credentialed clinical reviewers with hands-on experience in or expert knowledge of addiction treatment.
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