Kratom Abuse and Addiction – A Rising Legal Issue

Kratom, better known as Mitragyna, is a tropical plant native to Southeast Asia. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine and cultural practices. However, in recent years it has gained popularity in the Western world as an alternative to opioid withdrawal management and even for its euphoric effects.

This increase in use hasn’t come without negative effects. There are various news stories of fatal overdoses, addiction issues, and more recently legal issues surrounding kratom. In San Diego, California, U.S. District Judge James Lorenz denied MIT45, a maker of Kratom capsules and liquids, denied the motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit filed by two users of the legal drug. Now, this case highlights the legal challenges facing kratom and the impact on its users.

What Does Kratom Look Like?

Kratom, in its natural form, is a natural leaf that can be chewed or brewed into a tea. However, it is more commonly used in the US as a powder or capsule that is ingested orally. MIT45 sells liquid extracts, raw leaf powder, and capsules like many other Kraton makers. Even gummies are now sold freely online.

Unfortunately, because Kratom isn’t regulated by the FDA, there is no way for users to be sure of what they are ingesting. This lack of regulation is one of the many reasons Kratom can be more harmful, and even deadly than many believe.

Is Kratom Addictive?

In short, yes, studies conducted on Kratom have found that this substance can be addictive and even fatal. Most fatalities occurred when 8g of powder was ingested. Although some people use Kratom to manage opioid withdrawal symptoms, it can still lead to addiction and dependence. In addition, there is no solid evidence that shows it can be used as a substitute to traditional opioid addiction treatment methods.

Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms

Studies on Kratom use have already shown a robust link between withdrawal and long-term use. Several of the withdrawal symptoms can be mild, while others can be more serious to severe. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Sialorrhea/rhinorrhea
  • Body aches
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Hyperthermia, or an increase in body temperature

In addition to physical withdrawal symptoms, patients also report psychiatric symptoms when they stop using Kratom. These include:

  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability

These symptoms appear to be similar to opioid withdrawal symptoms, which is unfortunate considering many users seek out Kratom as a replacement for their previous opioid addiction. However, this can create a dangerous cycle of dependence and potential overdose, especially since one’s previous opioid addiction was never truly treated. Both withdrawals, when combined and compounded, are a recipe for disaster.

Current Legal Issues

While Judge James Lorenz’ ruling is a win for those against Kratom use, there is still a long road ahead for those recovering from Kratom addiction. The two plaintiffs in the case, for instance, stated they used Kratom in hopes of easing anxiety from opioid withdrawals. Now, both have filed the civil lawsuit in hopes of holding the supplement company responsible for their addiction and current state.

The lawsuit against the supplement manufacturer could potentially spark more legal action in the future and pave the way for these Kratom suppliers to properly label and warn users about the potential dangers of this plant. While the company in the lawsuit, MIT45, didn’t outright state the plant is not addictive, the lack of adequate warning signs and lack of highlighting its potential for addiction remains a problem, and is the basis of the lawsuit.

As of now, Kratom remains legal in 45 states but is banned in a few. These include Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Will Kratom Be Made Illegal?

It’s important to know that not everyone who uses Kratom gets addicted. In fact, some people report both stimulant and relaxing effects, which make it easier to get a steady energy boost. As such, some states are looking for solutions to balance the sale of Kratom in a way that’s legal, but also provides adequate warning about the potential risks of use.

According to the Congressional Research Services’ Legal Sidebar on Kratom Regulations, sixteen states regulate the sale of kratom products. These regulations include age restrictions, prohibited marketing to children, prohibitions on contamination of other products in Kratom, strength caps of 2% or greater of  7-hydroxymitragynine (the active ingredient in kratom), and labeling requirements among other regulations.

Labeling requirements in particular are quite varied. Some, but not all states, require information such as Directions for safe use, warnings, manufacturer or distributor information, Alkaloid content, ingredients, and factual basis.

Unfortunately, not all states require testing and sampling of Kratom products before sale, leaving individuals at risk for unknowingly purchasing contaminated or adulterated products. This highlights the need for stricter regulations and enforcement of these laws to ensure consumer safety.

In short, the future of Kratom may depend on strengthening and standardizing state regulations, as well as conducting further research and studies on its potential effects and addiction risks. It’s important for individuals to educate themselves on the laws in their state regarding Kratom, as well as to continue to be aware of its dangers.

Find Alternatives to Kratom

At American Addiction Foundation, we know it can be tough to deal with any addiction. While Kratom remains legal in most states, it’s important to consider finding alternative methods for managing pain, anxiety, or other conditions like opioid withdrawals. Our team of caring consultants is here to help you find the addiction treatment that works best for you. We offer resources and support for finding alternative therapies, as well as information on other addiction treatments like therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and more.

Addiction is a complex disease that requires personalized and holistic approaches to recovery. If you or a loved one are struggling with Kratom addiction or any substance use disorder, please reach out for help today at 800-425-1564. Together, we can find healthier and more sustainable solutions for managing your addiction and getting you on the right path toward recovery!