Learn About Our Walk-In Process

Kratom Addiction: Symptoms, Signs & Side Effects

Written by Thomas Christiansen

& Medically Reviewed by Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN

Medically Reviewed

Up to Date

This article was reviewed by a medical professional to guarantee the delivery of accurate and up-to- date information. View our research policy.

Last Updated - 6/17/2022

View our editorial policy
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, help is available. Speak with a Recovery Advocate by calling (855) 602-7202 now.

Kratom is a type of tropical tree found primarily in Southeast Asia. Its leaves contain a compound, also referred to as kratom, that can be addictive when ingested. In small amounts, kratom can increase energy, improve focus and decrease pain. Kratom interacts with opioid receptors in the brain to release chemicals called endorphins that are associated with pleasure, eliciting a euphoric high after ingestion.

Kratom has only been prevalent as an available substance within developed countries for a few years. While the drug is still legal in many places, that doesn’t mean that it’s safe to use. Kratom has no known medical application, and its long-term effects are largely unknown. Some selling this drug advertise it as a method of quitting opioid usage, but this use has not been endorsed by any medical or government sources. Kratom side effects can be dangerous and are still not understood by the medical community.

Kratom has been reported to be addictive, with those who misuse it experiencing cravings and tolerance. Once tolerance forms, the body becomes accustomed to the presence of the drug and the person must ingest larger amounts of the drug to achieve the same effect. Kratom can also lead to a state of dependence where the body becomes used to the presence of the drug and changes its functions to accommodate to it. Dependence can lead to increased withdrawal symptoms as the body readjusts when kratom is no longer being used.

Symptoms of Kratom Abuse

The symptoms of kratom abuse include psychosocial symptoms that are experienced with most types of drug abuse, including:

  • A craving for kratom that exists even when trying to stop
  • Irritability when unable to access kratom
  • Decreased productivity at school or work
  • Inability to stop using kratom, even if it causes negative effects
  • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when not using kratom
  • Financial difficulty related to spending on kratom

Someone experiencing these symptoms may be suffering from a kratom addiction and should consider seeking professional help for stopping kratom misuse.

Side Effects of Kratom

Kratom can cause several side effects that range from unpleasant to dangerous. Side effects of kratom usage have been known to include:

  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Sweating
  • Constipation
  • Increased urine production
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Skin color changes
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Liver failure

More is still being learned about the side effects of kratom. Currently, the most serious side effects involve liver functioning. Liver damage can lead to other serious symptoms and may sometimes even be fatal. Additionally, liver damage decreases the body’s ability to process drugs and can lead to toxic levels of kratom in the bloodstream.

Side Effects of Long-Term Kratom Abuse

Long-term kratom side effects relate to the potential development of tolerance and dependence. This causes the development of withdrawal symptoms when kratom usage is discontinued. Withdrawal symptoms of kratom include:

  • Aching muscles
  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Runny nose
  • Uncoordinated movements

Other long-term side effects related to kratom use may include psychological symptoms, liver failure and kidney failure.

Signs of Kratom Overdose

Taking high amounts of kratom can lead to overdose. Most cases of death associated with kratom use also include other substances. However, there has been at least one case where kratom was the only substance being used. Reported symptoms of kratom overdose include:

  • Nausea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Seizures
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Coma
  • Death

Because kratom use is a newer phenomenon in the United States and other developed countries, there may be other signs of overdose that have not yet been identified. If you or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms or other unusual or unhealthy side effects while using kratom, call 911 immediately.

If you are or a loved one is struggling with a kratom addiction, The Recovery Village Ridgefield can help. Contact one of our caring, experienced professionals today to take the first step toward recovery.