Kratom use is spiking higher and higher every day among younger people, and even though it is a legal substance it can have some incredibly significant potential for abuse. It is a tree from the tropical regions of southeast Asia, and the leaves contain psychotropic compounds.
Since it isn’t currently illegal in the US it is incredibly easy to order on the internet, and is often sold in small packets of green powder that are labeled “not for human consumption”. There are even forms of it that are sold as gum or a manufactured extract.
When kratom users use the substance, there are a number of different ways it can be used to obtain the desired effects. Commonly available as a pill, capsule, or extract that can be taken with food. Others will obtain the powdered leaves and use them to brew a tea. There are even some people that take the dried leaves and eat them with food. One of the most common ways is by smoking it.
This is highly concerning, since even among the kratom community, smoking kratom is not recommended, and it is thought to have many long-term side effects on both the central nervous system as well as the lungs.
Side-Effects of Smoking Kratom
Smoking kratom, in any amount, has been shown to have a very negative effect on the capillaries of the lungs. The clinical trials of kratom are very limited, and so many questions regarding the safety and long-term effects remain unanswered. But when evaluated objectively, the effects of smoking kratom seem to closely mimic the effects of smoking tobacco and even cannabis in some respects.
The capillaries in your lungs are the mechanism by which the lungs transport oxygen to the brain and other places. When you smoke tobacco, for example, these capillaries are hit with nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, and all the other nasty stuff that is in tobacco smoke. The same with cannabis, you get the hot air from the smoking, there is still some tar, and the THC and other cannabinoids are transported by the capillaries to the brain where the effects of the cannabis are felt.
When you smoke kratom, the same thing happens, except that since most people do not attempt to smoke the dried leaves of kratom that are incredibly hard to get, they often try to simply smoke the kratom powder, which is usually a finely ground kratom. Often sprinkling the kratom onto tobacco or cannabis in order to smoke it more easily.
The problem with smoking kratom, however, lies in the danger of combining kratom with anything else that it may interact with, such as tobacco. When kratom is combined with tobacco the result can be dangerously toxic. Nicotine can have a significant negative effect on the liver, and as such, it is inadvisable to combine the two.
There is very little data to help show what happens to kratom smokers in the long term, but given the similarity to tobacco, it isn’t unthinkable that kratom smokers are making themselves targets for the same debilitating illnesses that plague smokers. One of the most common being COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which can leave the individual with persistent coughing, shortness of breath, and a feeling of tightness in the chest. This is often in addition to a crippled immune system and a diminished capacity for physical activity.
Addiction Potential of Smoking Kratom
Kratom is known for causing a wide variety of pleasurable effects in its users. This is because it creates effects that are very similar to both stimulants and opiates. The two main psychoactive compounds that are found in kratom, mitragynine, and 7-alpha-hydroxy-mitragynine both interact with the opioid receptors in the brain. This produces a flood of pleasurable feelings such as sedation, pleasure, reduction in any pain, and general euphoria.
This is particularly true when the user consumes a high dose of kratom, however, mitragynine is also able to interact with some other receptors that are more frequently associated with stimulant use. Small amounts of kratom are reported to cause a boost in energy, sociability, and a feeling of alertness instead of significant sedation experienced with larger doses.
Even with desirable effects like these, which can fill two different roles depending on how it’s dosed, there are some potential adverse effects from dosing kratom. Users frequently report nausea, sweating, hallucinations, itching, seizures, increased urination, constipation, and dry mouth.
Just as with many drugs that mimic opioids, or have opioid-like effects, kratom may eventually cause a chemical dependence in its users. This means that the users will feel some degree of withdrawal symptoms once they stop taking the drug, after a period of use. These symptoms can include general aches, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggression, emotional changes, jerky movements, and a runny nose.
It has been used in recent years as a holistic attempt at controlling withdrawal symptoms from other substances such as opioids or alcohol. While many people swear it helps, it all seems to be anecdotal evidence. There is no reputable science at this time on whether kratom is either safe or effective for the purpose of easing opioid withdrawals.
How to Detox Safely & Get Help if Addicted to Smoking Kratom
If you or someone you know may be addicted to kratom, you should be sure that they understand that they are not alone in their struggles and that help is available if they want it. It is important that they understand there is a large support network consisting of friends and family, that want their recovery to succeed. One of the best things someone working toward recovery can do to improve their chances is to work with a professional treatment facility.
A professional treatment center will have staff trained to help the recovering individual with an individual treatment plan using either an intensive inpatient or flexible outpatient program. Staff will help them recognize what their usage triggers are, and how to cope and live their life around them.