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A growing trend in America today is to experiment with various “legal” drug-like substances. Many of these are homegrown plants or supplements that are marketed as legal and harmless. As many are witnessing firsthand, however, there are many risks when it comes to using experimental supplements, especially for someone who is already recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction. Even though some of these substances are described as having the ability to help wean an individual off opiates or other drugs, these claims are almost always exaggerated and should be examined more closely.

What is Kratom?

Kratom is a tropical tree (Mitragyna speciosa) native to Southeast Asia, with leaves that contain compounds that can have psychotropic (mind-altering) effects. It is not currently illegal and has been easy to order on the internet. It is sometimes sold as a green powder in packets labeled “not for human consumption.”

Kratom is also known as Thang, Kakuam, Thom, Ketum, and Biak. The leaves are usually chewed or ingested in capsules, brewed into tea or crushed and smoked.

The two compounds in kratom leaves, mitragynine and 7-α-hydroxymitragynine, interact with opioid receptors in the brain, producing sedation, pleasure, and decreased pain when consumed in high quantities. In small amounts, it acts as a stimulant.

Kratom’s effects are similar to both opioids and stimulants. It can cause side effects like nausea, itching, sweating, dry mouth, constipation, increased urination, loss of appetite, hallucinations, seizures, and even symptoms of psychosis in some users.

Its legality varies from country to country and state to state. In the U.S., it’s legal in some states, banned in others, and in a gray area in some states, where it is legal but regulated.

Kratom has seen use in an attempt to mitigate symptoms of opioid withdrawal, though research has not found this to be concretely effective.

Is Kratom Dangerous?

Kratom, derived from the tropical tree Mitragyna speciosa, has been gaining popularity in the United States and other parts of the world as an alternative remedy for various ailments. However, its safety has been a subject of debate. While some advocate for its potential therapeutic benefits, others raise concerns about its side effects and addictive properties.

Overview of the potential risks and side effects

Kratom’s compounds interact with opioid receptors in the brain, which can lead to a range of side effects. In small quantities, it acts as a stimulant, but in larger doses, it can have sedative effects similar to opioids. Common side effects include nausea, itching, sweating, dry mouth, and constipation. More severe side effects can include hallucinations, seizures, and symptoms of psychosis. Long-term use of Kratom has been associated with weight loss, insomnia, liver disease, and addiction.

Analysis of Kratom’s legal status and regulatory challenges

Kratom’s legal status varies by country and within the United States, by state. In some places, it is legal and sold as a dietary supplement, while in others it is banned or regulated. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved Kratom for medical use and has expressed concerns about its safety and potential for abuse. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has listed Kratom as a “drug of concern” but has not classified it as a controlled substance.

Mixing Kratom and Alcohol

Mixing alcohol and Kratom can be a risky combination that poses potential dangers to one’s health and well-being. Both substances have psychoactive effects on the body, and when taken together, their interactions can intensify the sedative and depressant effects. This can lead to increased sedation, impaired motor skills, heightened respiratory depression, and other adverse reactions. It’s important to understand the risks involved and make informed decisions about the consumption of these substances. For more detailed information on the risks of combining alcohol and Kratom, refer to our comprehensive article, “The Potent Mix: Understanding the Risks of Combining Kratom and Alcohol.

What Is Kratom Paranoia?

Kratom paranoia refers to a state of excessive anxiety or fear that is often irrational and associated with the belief that one is being persecuted or in danger, following the consumption of Kratom. This condition is characterized by heightened suspicion, mistrust, and an altered perception of reality.

Causes and Triggers of Kratom Paranoia

The causes of Kratom paranoia are not entirely understood, but it is believed to be linked to the interaction of Kratom’s active compounds with opioid receptors in the brain. High doses of Kratom can lead to altered mental states, which may trigger paranoia. Additionally, individual factors such as a person’s mental health history, the presence of other substances in the system, and genetic predisposition can also play a role in triggering Kratom paranoia.

Potential Consequences and Impact on Mental Health

Kratom paranoia can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health and well-being. It can lead to social isolation, as the person may withdraw from friends and family due to mistrust. The constant state of anxiety and fear can also contribute to stress, depression, and other mental health disorders. In severe cases, Kratom paranoia can lead to delusional thinking and hallucinations, which may require psychiatric intervention.

Recommendations for individuals experiencing Kratom Paranoia

If an individual is experiencing Kratom paranoia, it is crucial to seek professional help. A healthcare provider or mental health professional can offer guidance and treatment options. It is also advisable to discontinue the use of Kratom, especially in high doses. Family and friends should be supportive and encourage the individual to seek help. Additionally, educating oneself about the potential risks and side effects of Kratom can be beneficial in making informed decisions regarding its use.

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How Is Kratom Used?

Kratom is an ancient substance that is getting much attention today because of its resurgence in America. According to the DEA, Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa korth), is a tropical tree indigenous to Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar and other areas of Southeast Asia. It is in the same family as the coffee tree, and has been used by those living in Southeast Asia for decades. When the leaves of this plant are chewed in small amounts, it works as a stimulant, providing users with increased alertness, physical energy, talkativeness and sociable behavior. When used in larger amounts, kratom mimics opioids, providing pain relief, sedation, and a feeling of euphoria.

Kratom traditionally was used by Southeast Asian farmers to increase their energy so they could work longer, harder hours, while also providing them with pain relief. It is also used in a compound by Thai militants and young Muslims to make themselves more bold and fearless. However, there are several dangers associated with the use of kratom, and the substance has been banned in several countries:

  • In 1943, the Thai government passed the Kratom Act 2486 that made planting of the tree illegal.
  • In 1979, the Thai government enacted the Narcotics Act B.E. 2522, placing kratom along with marijuana in Category V of a five-category classification of narcotics.
  • In January 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) placed a ban on the import of products containing kratom, stating that there is no legitimate use of this substance as a dietary supplement.
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has not yet listed kratom as a controlled substance, but it is now listed as a “drug of concern.”

Immediate side effects of kratom include:

  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Itching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Dry Mouth
  • Increased urination

Long term use of kratom can lead to more serious side effects, including:

  • Anorexia
  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Darkening of the skin
  • Liver disease
  • Psychotic symptoms
  • Addiction

Addictive: Some claim that kratom is able to help addicts overcome a heroin or other opiate addiction because of its ability to mimic the effects of these drugs. However, studies show that kratom, when used over a long period of time, is addictive itself. Those who use this substance to treat an existing drug addiction usually just end up replacing one dangerous drug for another.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recently published a study that reported on psychiatric illness and significant withdrawal symptoms in Thai individuals who abused kratom for a long period of time, citing muscle aches, insomnia, and irritability as the most common symptoms. In addition, hallucinations, paranoia, trouble feeling pleasure, and decreased cognition were also reported.

Withdrawal symptoms of kratom:

  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Runny nose
  • Irritability
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Decreased cognition
  • Other names kratom is known by:

    • Thom
    • Ketum
    • Biak
    • Kakuam
    • Thang

    Kratom’s Use for Treating Addiction

    While some people state that kratom is helpful for treating opiate withdrawal symptoms and allowing them to safely withdraw from these drugs, most experts simply disagree. This makes the substance even more dangerous for those in recovery, as people put their hope in a substance that they believe will magically solve all their problems. As we have seen, kratom comes with its own set of problems, including addiction, and must be treated with care.

Dangers of Kratom

Over The Counter Kratom Can BE DangerousEasy to obtain and use: The leaves of the kratom plant are chewed or ground up and dissolved in drinks. The effects of this substance usually occur within 5 to 10 minutes of ingestion, and may last for 2 to 5 hours. Kratom is extremely easy to buy over the counter which makes it a risk for youth and other individuals that are not aware of the side effects that can result from its use.

Kratom today is legally sold in the United States as an over-the-counter dietary supplement at convenience stores, music stores, and gas stations, as well as through the Internet. A growing practice is for bars to sell kratom in a drinkable tea form for recreational use. These establishments market the drug as a legal substance that will help relax the person while increasing their energy.

Harmful to physical health: Contrary to the belief of many who experiment with it, kratom is not a harmless substance. It can cause a range of immediate and long term side effects that are hazardous to the individual’s health and wellbeing.

The DEA reports that “Long-term use of kratom produced anorexia, weight loss, insomnia, skin darkening, dry mouth, frequent urination, and constipation. A withdrawal syndrome was observed, consisting of symptoms of hostility, aggression, emotional lability, wet nose, achy muscles and bones, and jerky movement of the limbs. Furthermore, several cases of kratom psychosis were observed, where kratom addicts exhibited psychotic symptoms that included hallucinations, delusion, and confusion.”

Seeking Addiction Treatment for Kratom

Recognizing Kratom addiction is the first and crucial step towards recovery. Kratom, though often marketed as a natural alternative, has the potential for abuse and addiction. Being aware of signs such as cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and changes in behavior is vital. Early recognition of Kratom addiction is essential for timely intervention and preventing long-term consequences.

Available treatment options for Kratom addiction

There are various treatment options available for individuals struggling with Kratom addiction. These include medically supervised detoxification, medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapies, and counseling. One notable facility that offers comprehensive addiction treatment is The Ridge, a luxury drug and alcohol treatment facility located in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Ridge provides a serene and supportive environment for recovery, with personalized treatment plans that address the unique needs of each individual.

The role of support systems and counseling

Support systems, including family, friends, and support groups, play a critical role in the recovery process. Counseling, both individual and group, is also an integral part of treatment. At The Ridge, patients have access to experienced counselors and therapists who work closely with them to address underlying issues and develop coping strategies for a sustainable recovery.

Encouragement for seeking help and resources for Kratom addiction

If you or someone you know is struggling with Kratom addiction, it is imperative to seek help. The Ridge in Cincinnati, Ohio, offers a compassionate and holistic approach to addiction treatment. With a focus on healing the mind, body, and spirit, The Ridge provides the tools and support necessary for individuals to rebuild their lives free from addiction, including detailed detox programs and inpatient rehab center. Don’t hesitate to reach out for the help that you or your loved one deserves.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Kratom DrugFacts.” NIDA, 17 Jun. 2020,
  2. Garcia-Romeu, Albert, et al. “Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa): User Demographics, Use Patterns, and Implications for the Opioid Epidemic.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, vol. 202, 2019, pp. 24-32,
  3. Gottlieb, Scott. “Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. on FDA Advisory About Deadly Risks Associated with Kratom.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, 14 Nov. 2017,
  4. Warner, Misty L., et al. “The Pharmacology and Toxicology of Kratom: from Traditional Herb to Drug of Abuse.” International Journal of Legal Medicine, vol. 130, no. 1, 2015, pp. 127-138,
  5. “Should Kratom Use Be Legal?” The New York Times, 19 Oct. 2016,

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