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Kratom High Explained

It seems like every time you turn on the news there is another obscure plant that is now being abused by our nation’s citizens. This is the case even now, with one of the newest herbs to be the center of an addiction crisis in America, kratom. 

Most troubling of all, this dangerous natural herbal substance is legal in nearly all parts of the country. Even though it is not legal in a few jurisdictions, it can still easily be ordered on the internet, as it comes as a simple green powder labeled as “not for human consumption”. It can even be obtained as a concentrated extract and an easily ingested gum.

Kratom is a tropical tree that grows natively in Southeast Asia, in areas such as Thailand and Malaysia, and contains psychotropic compounds that alter the perception, emotional state, and physical state of the users. It has several slang names, and may be referred to as “Ketum”, “Kakuam”, “Biak”, “Thom”, and “Ithang”.

Kratom is used in a number of ways by those to abuse it. Some users consume it as a pill or capsule, just as they would with any dietary supplement. There are also kratom products that are created as a powerful extract that can be mixed into a wide variety of food and drink.

There are even users who use the leaves themselves, chewing them whole, eating them in food, powdering them for brewing tea, and even smoking them.

What is a Kratom High?

Kratom is unique from many other abused substances, in that it can cause effects similar to stimulants, as well as opioids. There are two main psychoactive compounds in kratom, called mitragynine and 7-alpha-hydroxy-mitragynine.

While both of these compounds interact with opioid receptors in the brain, particularly when large amounts are taken, mitragynine also has an effect on other receptor systems in the brain that are responsible for stimulant effects.

When large amounts of kratom are taken, the interaction with the opioid receptors creates effects similar to being on opiates, such as a sensation of sedation, extreme pleasure, and pain relief. This can lead to people using kratom as an alternative to opiates, helping them to stay off of opiates but subjecting them to large amounts of largely untested kratom.

Consuming more specific and limited quantities leads to the user experiencing effects similar to stimulants. This small dosage results in feelings of increased energy boosted sociability, and a feeling of alertness instead of relaxation and sedation.

Side-Effects of a Kratom High

While the full effects of kratom are not yet understood, there are a great number of side effects, both mild and potentially dangerous, that can be linked to kratom use. There are a number of other speculated and likely damages that are likely similar to the effects of tobacco since many users smoke the kratom. 

The problem with smoking kratom, though, is that the kratom is likely to become toxic when combined with other substances. When combined with nicotine, for example, kratom becomes dangerously toxic. In addition to the dangers of mixing kratom with other substances, the act of smoking the leaves or powder results in significant damage to the capillaries of the lugs.

This means that it reduces the overall ability of the lungs to deliver fresh oxygen to the body to keep it healthy.

There is also the physical damage to the airway that occurs when inhaling hot smoke from organic material. There is incredibly hot smoke hitting the airway, as well as tar, carcinogens, carbon monoxide, and more. This can put the user at an elevated risk of developing breathing disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, which is one of the most common. 

These illnesses can leave the user with coughing that will not go away, the inability to catch their breath, and a feeling of tightness in the chest. They can also result in permanent damage to the immune system, and a reduced capacity for any physical exertion.

Addiction Potential of Kratom Highs

Like many other drugs that mimic opioid effects, kratom has a high potential for dependence meaning that regular or heavy users will almost certainly feel some physical withdrawal symptoms when they decrease or stop using kratom. 

There is anecdotal evidence of users reporting that they were in fact addicted to using kratom. There are some withdrawal symptoms that seem to be common across those reducing or stopping the use of kratom. Some of these symptoms can include:

  • General muscle aches
  • Insomnia, disruption of sleep patterns, or restless sleep
  • Easily irritated
  • Noticeable hostility
  • Elevated aggression or short temper tendencies
  • Runny nose
  • Jerky or shaky movements
  • Emotional imbalance

There is an additional risk of psychological dependence if the user had been abusing kratom to help reduce symptoms of other issues. If kratom had been helping someone stay off of opiates by acting as a surrogate, removing kratom may make them feel like opiates are the only option to treat their withdrawal symptoms.

They may also grow accustomed to the feeling of sedation and may feel too alert and anxious.

The same applies to those who use it as an alertness aid or make use of its other stimulating effects. They may grow accustomed to these feelings and crave them when they are absent. 

How to Get Help if Addicted to a Kratom High

If you or someone you love may be addicted to a kratom high, it can feel like there are no good options for dealing with the problem. The road to recovery doesn’t have to be traveled alone, and many individuals can benefit from working with kratom addiction treatment professionals

By creating a treatment plan at an experienced treatment center, the recovering individual can make sure they get a plan that works for them. In fact, working with a premier facility rehab in Los Angeles California can increase one’s chances for success far greater as it will also teach them how to avoid triggers and maintain recovery going forward.

Reach out today if you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to kratom. You deserve a life of happiness that can come from living free from the bondage of drugs.

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Written By: Linda Whiteside


Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson


Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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