Inside Kratom: The Legal Drug With A Dangerous Similarity To Opioids

Recently there has been a rise in substances sold in vape shops, convenience stores, and gas stations across the country. These substances include Delta8, CBD, and one of the most popular, Kratom. While these substances are technically legal, they are unregulated and can vary in effect from batch to batch. While most are federally legal, certain states are recognizing the similarities between these substances and their illegal counterparts and have opted to outright ban them. While suppliers tout the benefits of Kratom, they leave out the fact that it has a few very dangerous similarities to opioids. Let’s take a closer look inside Kratom, and how this legal substance behaves very similarly to illegal street opioids.


Where Did Kratom Come From?

Kratom is a tree found in southeast Asia as well as certain parts of Africa. The leaves of this tree have historically been used in these cultures to treat fatigue, as when it is taken in small doses it has a stimulating effect. In larger doses, Kratom has a sedative effect similar to opioids. Recently, Kratom has become popular in the U.S. due to its drug-like effects. Companies selling the substance claim that it can be effective for treating pain and chronic fatigue, much like the other recently popularized substance CBD. However, unlike CBD, Kratom has an addictive effect and can cause withdrawal symptoms much like opioids.


Is Kratom An Opioid?

To put it simply, Kratom is not an opioid. Traditional opioids are derived from the opium poppy plant, and the much more potent synthetic opioids mirror the chemical structure of traditional opioids. Kratom is derived from the kratom tree and is thusly not an opioid. However, the substance bears some striking similarities to opioids.

While Kratom may not be an opioid, it is a substance that has caused concern at federal and state levels. Several states have outright banned it, classifying Kratom as a schedule 1 drug. This is the same classification given to heroin and LSD among others. The states that have banned it include Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Additionally, counties in Florida, California, and Illinois have banned the substance, and other states have banned it for sale to people under the age of 18.


What Are The Dangers Of Kratom?

While Kratom is not an opioid, it bears many similarities to opioids when it comes to withdrawal symptoms and the effect that the substance has when taken. The FDA has tested Kratom and found that the substance does indeed bind to the opioid receptors and acts as an opioid agonist. This means that it has a similar effect as opioids, including the addictive quality and long-term dependence that are a trademark of opioids.

Kratom also can have some very unpleasant side effects. According to the Mayo Clinic, people have reported severe Kratom side effects including nausea, vomiting, chills, hallucinations, seizures, muscle pain, liver damage, depression, delusions, and more.

What’s also very concerning are the withdrawal symptoms associated with Kratom. People who stopped after regularly using Kratom reported 1-3 days of opioid-like withdrawal symptoms, some with up to 5 days of symptoms. While these symptoms are reported to be milder than opioid withdrawal, they are similar in nature and include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, sweating, fever, running nose and eyes, agitation, anxiety, and depression.

For all the dangers, it is safe to conclude that Kratom is simply not worth the trouble.


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