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Kratom Tolerance: Can You Decrease or Lower It Safely?

Regular kratom use can lead to tolerance. You can decrease it or lower it safely by reducing your use of the drug.

Kratom Overview

Kratom is a substance that is derived from the leaves of a Southeast Asian tree Mitragyna speciose. It has compounds that can produce psychotropic effects.

Kratom is currently legal in the United States. It is sold on the internet as a supplement in pill, capsule, or powder form.

Kratom affects the brain in ways that are similar to both opioids and stimulants. It interacts with the opioid receptors in brain and produces sedation, reduces pain, and triggers a pleasure response.

It is a natural substance and not an opioid like heroin, OxyContin, morphine, or fentanyl. It does act on the same areas of the brain, but it is not in the opioid family of drugs derived from the opium poppy plant.

Kratom also interacts with other receptors in the brain to produce a stimulant effect, producing increased energy and alertness when taken in smaller doses and a sedative effect when taken in larger doses.

It has been traditionally used in the Southeast Asian communities it originated in as a stimulant to increase work productivity and as a pain reliever and substitute for opioid painkillers.

young female drug addict

Kratom Use

Kratom has become more popular in Western culture recently as a supplement that can be used for relaxation and pain relief. According the nonprofit American Kratom Association, people are reporting that they use kratom to address minor pain conditions and to promote a general sense of well-being.

Although it is currently legal, there has been some speculation that the Drug Enforcement Administration could move to schedule the drug to control its use as a recreational substance in the United States.

Can You Become Addicted to Kratom?

Kratom interacts with the brain in such a way that it creates a reward trigger, which is a basic function of how addiction develops in the brain. The path to addiction is usually precipitated when a pleasure or reward response is triggered in the brain, followed by the development of tolerance, dependency, and then addiction.

Because kratom can trigger this reward response in the brain, there is a potential for addiction to develop.

Tolerance begins to build up when your body becomes acclimated to the effects of a substance, so it takes in increasing amount of the substance to produce the same effects in the body over time. This is the state you are in when your body is no longer responding to the effects of a substance you were previously responding to.

Dependency can be identified when a person starts to have withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking a substance. Dependency usually follows tolerance because the body begins to notice when the effects of the substance are wearing off. It will then trigger cravings to consume more of the substance to stave off the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

kratom

How to Know if You Have a Tolerance to Kratom

If you have been taking kratom regularly for a while and begin to notice that its effects are not as strong as they used to be, you could be developing a tolerance to the substance. If you are having cravings for more of the substance or you begin to experience withdrawal symptoms when you do not take the substance, you could be developing a dependency on kratom.

Withdrawal symptoms from kratom include the following:

• Insomnia
• Muscle aches
• Irritability
• Hostility
• Aggressive behavior
• Runny nose
• Jerky movements
• Emotional Instability

If you have experienced any of these symptoms when you stop taking kratom, you could have a dependency on the substance that needs to be addressed.

Studies have found that the side effects of kratom use can include seizures, heart arrhythmia, impaired memory, and coma. There have been reports of overdoses involving kratom, but most of these involved the use of kratom in addition to another substance.

Can You Lower Your Tolerance to Kratom?

drug effects

Tolerance generally causes an individual to need more of the substance to have the same effect that lower doses once did. If you have developed a tolerance to kratom and want to reverse this trend, you will need to take less of the substance.

Because kratom can be habit-forming and cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you have developed a dependency on it, you will want to lower the amount you are taking gradually to prevent unpleasant side effects. This will gradually reduce the amount of kratom you are accustomed to.

Depending on the amount of kratom you are currently taking, begin to first take smaller doses of the substance than you normally take.

If you have been taking kratom daily, start by reducing the amount you take every day. When you have become accustomed to the lower dosage, start to only take kratom every other day and continue lengthening the amount of time between dosages.

When you have less of the substance in your system, your tolerance will begin to drop over time. Gradually weaning yourself off kratom will reduce the risk of dependency and withdrawal symptoms.

If you begin to experience any dangerous withdrawal symptoms, such as vomiting, profuse sweating, pain, or inability to keep water down, seek medical attention immediately. Dehydration caused by sweating and vomiting can cause a dangerous imbalance of electrolytes that can cause serious health damage or even death.

group therapy session

How Is Addiction to Kratom Treated?

Kratom is relatively new as a recreational drug or supplement in Western culture, although the substance has long been used in the Southeast Asian communities where it originated. It has a lower risk of abuse compared to other drugs that act on opioid receptors precisely because kratom is not an opioid.

There is currently not much research that has been done on treating kratom addiction. Currently, kratom is being researched as a potential substance to help people who are addicted to opioid drugs such as heroin or prescription painkillers.

Addiction to kratom would be treated similarly to addiction to most substances of abuse. A treatment plan would begin with medical detox, likely using the tapering schedule described above, and then continue to comprehensive therapy to address the issues related to substance abuse.

References

Biochemical Benefits, Diagnosis, and Clinical Risks Evaluation of Kratom. (April 2017). Frontiers in Psychiatry.

Drug Scheduling. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Follow the Science. (2019). American Kratom Association.

Kratom. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The abuse potential of kratom according to the 8 factors of the controlled substance act: implications for regulation and research. (December 2017). Psychopharmacology.

The Neurobiology of Drug Addiction. (January 2007). National Institute on Drug Abuse.

What Is Kratom? (September 2018). National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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