What Is Kratom and Is It Dangerous?

Kratom is the name of a Southeast Asian species of tropical tree, as well as a drug derived from that tree. The drug has a decades-long history of use in the Southeast Asian region, and it has now begun to appear on U.S. streets. Kratom is not illegal in America, but the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would like to see that situation change. Several facts help explain this desire to outlaw the kratom drug.

Kratom Essentials

Kratom contains two active ingredients. When the drug is used in relatively low doses, one of these ingredients functions as a stimulant inside the human body and produces effects such as:

  • Higher energy levels, and
  • A higher level of alertness

However, when the kratom drug is used in larger doses, the body’s reaction changes and both active ingredients function as opioids. Like all opioid substances, they can produce symptoms that include:

  • A reduced sensitivity to pain, and
  • Increased activity in the brain’s pleasure center

Harmful Effects

Kratom also shares one additional property with opioid substances: the ability to trigger physical dependence and addiction when used repeatedly over time. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) lists potential symptoms of withdrawal in addicted users that include:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Aching muscles
  • An irritable mental state
  • Unusual mood changes
  • Aggressive or openly hostile behavior, and
  • Spasm-like body movements

Even if you don’t develop a kratom addiction, the drug can produce a range of unpleasant or unwanted side effects, including:

  • Excess sweat output
  • Itchy skin
  • Abnormally high urine output
  • Appetite loss
  • Nausea, and
  • Increased susceptibility to skin damage following sun exposure

In addition, some people who consume the drug end up developing psychosis, a highly disruptive mental state marked by delusional thinking and hallucinations. NIDA has not recorded any cases of people dying from kratom overdoses. However, you may potentially die from a combined overdose of kratom and other types of drugs. So, as you can see, there are a number of reasons why the DEA would seek to make kratom illegal just like any number of other harmful, addictive substances. Sources: National Institute on Drug Abuse: What Is Kratom? U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration: Kratom

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