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Kratom for Opiate Withdrawal: Does it Work?

A woman sits with her feet propped on a window ledge, leaning back on her chair and looking outside.
Some claim that kratom can make opiate withdrawal much easier to manage.

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First of all, what is kratom?

It’s a plant that grows in southeast Asia. For centuries, natives have chewed the leaves or used them to make a tea. The result? Some pain relief and an overall feeling of well-being.

Kratom is currently legal in the United States and can be purchased easily in the form of powders or supplements.

What Does Kratom Do?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Kratom contains two compounds, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, that interact with opioid receptors in the brain.

When taken in small amounts, it works as a stimulant, producing feelings of increased energy, sociability and alertness. When taken in larger amounts, it can result in feelings of sedation and decreased pain.

Unlike heroin and painkillers, it does not suppress breathing.

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The Kratom Debate

Proponents of the supplement say that Kratom is a life-changer, especially for those dealing with chronic pain or for those who are addicted to drugs like heroin or painkillers.

The theory is that you can use it to manage the withdrawal from opiates. So instead of suffering from weeks of feeling listless and low, you’ll feel energetic and happy—at least that’s the theory.

Others tell a different story. There hasn’t been a ton of research done on kratom, but internet message boards and Facebook sites reveal a mixed bag of reviews, with some users reporting that kratom withdrawal is just as difficult as withdrawal from true opiates.

In fact, in 2016 the Drug Enforcement Administration announced it was temporarily adding kratom to the list of Schedule 1 substances, right alongside drugs like heroin, LSD and cocaine. It’s since been removed from that list, but is now officially classified as a “drug of concern.”

The DEA lists its potential side effects and health risks as: agitation, irritability, tachycardia, nausea, drowsiness, hypertension, hepatotoxicity, psychosis, seizure, weight loss, insomnia, vomiting, poor concentration, hallucinations and death. According to the DEA, there were 15 kratom-related deaths between 2014 and 2016.

Do you want to stop taking pain pills on your own?

It's a good first step that you are looking for a solution to your opiate addiction. While Kratom may not be the answer, there are steps you can take to stop addiction yourself.

Kratom supporters argue that those deaths were unlikely to have been cause by kratom alone—and were probably the result of kratom being consumed with a more dangerous substance. Kratom will never get the therapeutic credit it deserves, they claim, because there’s no money in it for big pharma.

What’s the truth? Almost everyone would agree that kratom is far safer than heroin or painkillers. But that doesn’t mean it’s truly safe—or good for you.

Real Recovery at The Raleigh House

Recovery isn’t one-size-fits-all. At The Raleigh House, we’ll work with you to help find the path that’s right for you—and help you manage and overcome your withdrawal symptoms. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the heroin or painkiller addiction treatment programs at The Raleigh House and how they can help you build a new life.

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