Tis the burning question for all those curious to start using Kratom, or for the folks currently taking the healing herbal substance; Is it possible to become addicted to Kratom? With little research around all things Kratom, there is no defined evidence suggesting Kratom is or isn’t addictive which makes it difficult to give a black or white answer on the topic; this is why you’ll find our post helpful when you’re forming your opinion on the matter. What we aim to do is bring you the most relevant and up to date information around the topic so you can make your own informed decision.
Let’s be clear, first things first… Anything can be addictive, whether it be coffee, that chocolate bar you’ve been craving or a behaviour; literally everything we live, eat and breathe can be addictive when abused or used in excess. When it comes to Kratom, the answer to whether it is addictive or not isn’t so simple as it all depends on many factors. We’ll break these factors down for you to help you understand more easily. Before we get into this, we’re going to explain some biological background on addiction, in particular to Kratom and take you though why many feel that it is addictive and why others debate against its ability to get you hooked. If you’re wanting all your questions answered on Kratom and addiction to it, keep on reading.
The Basic Biological Background on Addiction
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, they define addiction as “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and associated circuitry’’ They also bring up that in order to experience addiction, a tolerance must first be formed in the body.
Keep reading to find out more about whether tolerance really does plan a role in addiction; for now, let’s get back to a short explanation. With long term use, higher amounts of alkaloids from Kratom will begin to build up in the user’s body, making the feelings of ‘needing the substance’ greater. The more you use the substance, the greater you will become dependant on it and when the moment comes that you’re pulled off it, withdrawal symptoms will occur as your body is no longer use to being in the absence of Kratom.
Withdrawal symptoms typically only last a week or so and are quite similar to that of a substance like caffeine; these withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Overall discomfort in the body
- Difficulty falling and staying asleep
In order to reduce the risk of addiction, and thus not have to worry about withdrawal symptoms, it’s important for a user to make sure they wait a minimum of 12 hours, on a normal dosage, for the alkaloids to flush from their system before taking more Kratom.
Does Tolerance Play A Role in Addiction?
From the information we’ve gathered on Kratom and substance addiction, we’ve found that in order for a substance to become addictive, you must first be able to develop a physical tolerance to it. In previous posts we have wrote about tolerance levels in different types of Kratom and how the type, strain and dosage all can be contributing factors to whether you can develop a tolerance to Kratom. With plain leaf and full spectrum kratom types it is less likely to develop a tolerance, due to the ceiling effect which is where at a certain dosage, the mood boosting effects don’t further increase however the side effects do. This is a natural defensive in a way and helps prevent the user for wanting to take more than needed.
On the other hand, with other types of Kratom such as water based, liquid based tinctures and resin extracts, tolerance is more easily experienced with regular use.
You can lesson the risk of developing a tolerance to Kratom by adopting the following practices:
- Not using Kratom on a regular basis
- Staggering dosages
- Switching up strains (for more frequent users)
Is Addiction A Choice?
The studies cited in an article that appears in the Atlantic seem to believe that addiction is a choice. The discussions around the question posed aims to disprove that addiction isn’t a dopamine driven compulsion and, rather is more influenced by the reward pathways in the brain. They say that every addict, whether it be to a hard drug, herbal supplement or whatever it is, have a reason for why they start, why they continue and when finally they decide to quit, a reason for that too. When we are acting on a reason, we are making a choice and when a meaningful alternative is presented, it is often easier to make a good choice.
Two Viewpoints on Kratom: Addictive vs Not Addictive
It is still extremely unclear whether in fact Kratom on its own is addictive when current studies neither provide solid proof or attempt to disprove the addictive nature of Kratom. One thing is sure and that is that both sides of the debate do agree on two things and that is; when combined with other drugs of abuse, Kratom can be extremely dangerous and, more research is to be done in order to find the hard facts around Kratom.
Kratom Is Addictive
The FDA, DEA, and other organizations governing the legislation around substances like Kratom, believe the herbal supplement is in fact harmful, has been linked to many deaths, and can cause severe addiction. The FDA specifically claims that as a herbal supplement to ease off of opioids and prevent withdrawal, Kratom is ineffective and only adds to the opioid crisis. In early November of last year, the FDA came out with a public warning to inform of the dangers of the so called ‘drug’.
Our Thoughts: It seems like there are mixed opinions even within the supporters of those who believe Kratom is addictive. The possibility of addiction, although present is minimal in comparison to opioids such as heroine that you often hear the DEA comparing it to.
Kratom Isn’t Addictive
The University of Rochester Medical Centre speaks about Kratom in a way that indicates it’s been getting a bad wrap. This article, along with similar studies and observations from well respected universities seem to be leaning in the direction of support for the fight on Kratom, at least on the side of more research needing to be done. Yes, it may be addictive if used extensively and abused, many individuals who are part of these studies claim, but not more than coffee would be. Regular users comment that Kratom has helped them get off of their prescribed pain pills but Kratom like anything, if misused, can become addictive. This is why users must be responsible when taking Kratom and follow the practices we listed above, about how to reduce your tolerance in order to decrease your chances of addiction.
Our Thoughts: Although we do know the alkaloids in Kratom bind to the same opioid receptors as other addictive drugs, not enough research has been done to prove that Kratom alone is what causes an addiction.
Factors Affecting Kratom Addiction
According to extensive research, we’ve deduced that Kratom addiction is dependent on 4 main factors working together: Strain, Type, Dosage, and Frequency of Use.
The largest factor affecting Kratom addiction comes along with the particular strain used. Some strains, such as red vein or enhanced vein strains have more potency and sedative affects in the body and due to this it’s hypothesized that taking these on a regular basis could lead to a greater dependency that later ends in addiction.
There are various types of Kratom available, for more information on these you can check out our post on Types of Kratom (ADD INTERNAL LINK). Kratom can be used in the plain leaf form, powder, or extracts (water based, resin, liquid based tinctures, and enhanced Kratom leaf extract). All of the varied types have a different effect on the tolerance they are able to build up in the body.
Dosage & Frequency of Use
As with anything, if you’re taking Kratom on a regular basis and consistently upping your dosage, it’s extremely likely that you will become dependant on it. We wouldn’t necessarily say that you’ll develop an addiction, because we would agree that Kratom is not a drug in which it will take over your ability to make a choose whether to stop using it or not.
What’s The Verdict?
When breaking everything down, we’ve concluded that not enough scientific evidence exists to prove or disprove whether Kratom has dangerously addictive properties. From what we’ve researched, Kratom seems to exhibit similar ‘addictive’ properties to that of coffee and has the potential, depending on the strain, type, and dosage taken, to leave you with addiction symptoms. The one thing we are confident in is that misuse and abuse of the substance, especially extracts, will most likely result in tolerances and could lead to addiction. As with anything, use responsibly, follow our tips on how to reduce the chance of tolerance, buy from a reputable vendor, and listen to your body always. If you follow this advice, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.