What Is Kratom Withdrawal?
Kratom is a tropical tree with leaves that contain opioid compounds. People use kratom for euphoria and pain-relief.1 Some people also use it to help wean themselves off of other opioid drugs or alcohol.
Chronic kratom use can result in dependence. If you try to stop using kratom, you may experience withdrawal symptoms and need professional treatment.
Learn more about kratom withdrawal, including:
Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms
Kratom withdrawal symptoms and effects may include:1, 5, 6
- Cravings for kratom.
- Muscle aches and pains.
- Jerky bodily movements or physical tremors.
- Sleep disturbances, particularly insomnia.
- Emotional changes.
- Aggressive or hostile behavior.
- Runny nose.
- Dilated pupils.
- Loss of appetite.
The severity and duration of these symptoms largely depend on how long and how heavily you used kratom. In general, heavier use will result in more severe withdrawal symptoms.
Although researchers have not extensively studied kratom withdrawal, the primary psychoactive alkaloid chemicals in the plant resemble other opioid drugs in both structure and effects. Opioid withdrawal symptoms are usually not life-threatening.6,7
However, opioid withdrawal can cause a number of health risks and medical complications, including:
- Relapse risks – The discomfort of opioid withdrawal can increase the risk of relapse. Relapses, especially in the context of lowered tolerance, can lead to overdose and death.
- Aspiration risks – Acute opioid withdrawal may be associated with gastrointestinal distress. If you vomit and inhale the contents of your stomach into your lungs, you are at risk of lung inflammation, pneumonia, and potentially lethal choking.
- Imbalanced fluids and electrolyte levels – Excessive vomiting and/or diarrhea, coupled with poor intake and poor nutrition, can result in dehydration and disturbances in your body’s balance of electrolytes.7
The safest and most comfortable way to detox from kratom is to seek professional medical care. A health professional can monitor your symptoms, prescribe medications, and treat any complications that may arise.
A distinct timeline for kratom withdrawal symptoms isn’t well studied. However, as mentioned above, kratom withdrawal resembles withdrawal from other opioids. A typical opioid withdrawal timeline averages 7-10 days.
- First 24 hours after last dose. Symptoms usually begin. During the acute withdrawal stage, you may suffer from increased cravings and anxiety, combined with other physical symptoms such as agitation, muscle aches, runny nose, insomnia, sweating, and yawning.7
- 2-4 days. As you progress through withdrawal, these symptoms may intensify and peak between the second and fourth days. Withdrawal symptoms that may appear during this stage include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, dilated pupils, and goose bumps.7
- 7-10 days. Many people’s symptoms begin to subside after 7 to 10 days.9
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
There is no evidence of post-acute withdrawal symptoms after quitting kratom. However, people who have been dependent on opioids may experience protracted withdrawal signs, such as:
- Sleep problems.
- Problems with memory and concentration.
Causes of Kratom Withdrawal
Kratom withdrawal can occur if you are dependent on the drug and stop using it.
Dependence often develops in parallel with users developing a tolerance to kratom’s effects, at which point they will begin using the drug more frequently and in higher doses to achieve the same results.7 Over time, your body adapts to the presence of the drug and may feel or function inadequately without a certain amount in your system. This drive to continue abusing the drug can lead to addiction, or compulsive use despite negative consequences.
If you’re kratom-dependent and abruptly stop using the drug, you may experience withdrawal symptoms because your body has yet to adapt to functioning without it. Withdrawal symptoms are especially likely if you have used heavily or for long periods of time.
Many people have a hard time quitting opioids because they fear going through withdrawal. Their ongoing abuse of the drug is essentially an attempt to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Treatment for Kratom Withdrawal
Detox is often the first step of a comprehensive and effective recovery program. Even if your symptoms aren’t life-threatening, you may experience a number of recovery benefits from a kratom detox program. For example, a medically supervised detox program may use medication to treat or lessen your symptoms and address any underlying issues, such as depression.
No matter what type of kratom withdrawal treatment you select, it’s important to seek ongoing addiction treatment after detox to reduce the chance of relapse. Detox alone is not sufficient to treat substance abuse disorders, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).10
Types of kratom withdrawal treatment include:
- Kratom detox centers. Detox centers minimize or eliminate the effects of kratom withdrawal through medical supervision and medication. Standalone detox centers generally will not offer treatment beyond detox, but they may help you transfer into an ongoing substance abuse treatment program.
- Inpatient treatment. This form of kratom withdrawal treatment often incorporates detox as the first part of the recovery program. It also involves continuing treatment, support, and care after detox is completed. You live at a residential recovery center and participate in inpatient treatment for 30 days to 90 days, though treatment can be longer if needed. During your stay, you might participate in individual counseling, group therapy, 12-step groups, and vocational rehabilitation.
- Outpatient treatment. Though somewhat less intensive than inpatient or residential treatment approaches, outpatient is still an effective way to recover from an addiction and deal with withdrawal symptoms. You live at home and often continue your day-to-day life while attending treatment one to several times per week at an outpatient recovery program. You participate in many of the same treatments offered by inpatient programs.
- Partial hospitalization. Sometimes referred to as day treatment, partial hospitalization is a useful recovery option for those who benefit from the intensity of an inpatient program, but need to return home at the end of the day. The structure, treatment options, and support of a partial hospitalization program can be particularly helpful for people who have completed an inpatient program and are beginning the transition back to everyday life.
In Europe, antidepressants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, antianxiety medications, and a combination of dihydrocodeine-lofexidine have been used to treat kratom addiction and withdrawal.13
Can You Detox From Kratom at Home?
Some people may be tempted to detox from kratom at home by using over-the-counter pain or sleep medications—or even going cold turkey. While these drugs may help with some symptoms, particularly if the withdrawal is not severe, the most effective way to come off kratom is under medical supervision.
The major concerns with detoxing at home are relapse and medical or psychiatric complications. When withdrawal becomes painful or uncomfortable, the urge to use again to relieve the symptoms can become unbearable. Some people may also be at risk of violent behavior, suicidal thoughts/behaviors, or emotional disturbances.
The risk of relapse is greatly reduced or even eliminated in a rehabilitation program, and healthcare providers in these facilities can treat symptoms and any medical/mental health issues.
Find a Detox Center
You don’t have to deal with kratom withdrawal on your own. Call a treatment admissions consultant about choosing the right treatment program for your needs.
Prepare for your call by having the following information handy for the specialist:
- Age of the person who needs help
- That person’s location
- History of drug use, including kratom and other drugs (how much used, how often, and at what doses)
- Medical/psychiatric disorders or potential issues that need treatment
- Insurance information
- Type of facility preferred, if you’ve decided (inpatient, outpatient, detox)
. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). DrugFacts – Kratom.
. American Pharmacists Association. (2016). DEA withdraws kratom ban, opens public comment period.
. New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. (2011). Addiction Medicine FYI: Kratom Abuse.
. McWhirter, L. and Morris, S. (2010). A case report of inpatient detoxification after kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) dependence. European Addiction Research, 16(4), 229-31.
. Galbis-Reig, D. (2016). A Case Report of Kratom Addiction and Withdrawal. Wisconsin Medical Journal, 115(1), 49-52.
. Government of South Australia, SA Health. Opioid withdrawal management: Withdrawal syndrome.
. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2016). Opiate and opioid withdrawal.
. Gowing, L., Ali, R., Dunlop, A., Farrell, M., and Lintzeris, N. (2014). National Guidelines for Medication-Assisted Treatment of Opioid Dependence.
. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2010). Protracted withdrawal. Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory, 9 (1), 1.
. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2006). Quick Guide for Clinicians Based on TIP 45: Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.
. Boyer, E., Babu, K., Adkins, J., McCurdy, C., and Halpern, J. (2008). Self-treatment of opioid withdrawal using kratom (Mitragynia speciosa korth). Addiction, 103(6), 1048-1050.
. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). DrugFacts – Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.
. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2015). Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) drug profile.