The Addictions Coach: Kratom for Opiate Withdrawal. What is it and How Does it Work? Guest Blog from author, Wendi Rook.
Kratom For Opiate Withdrawal
Kratom is becoming increasingly more popular as an effective tool for easing the symptoms of opiate withdrawal. Withdrawal can be debilitating and extremely uncomfortable, lasting for days and sometimes even weeks. In this post, we’ll explore how opiate withdrawal works and how you can use kratom to effectively ease the symptoms of opiate withdrawal.
What is Opiate Withdrawal?
Opiates all share one thing in common: they all act upon the brain’s μ-opioid receptors.
To help you easily understand this concept, imagine there are little pits in the cells of your brain (the μ-opioid receptors ).
When these pits are filled, you experience the effects of opiates, such as pain relief, relaxation, and euphoria. When you live with these little ‘pits’ filled for a long period of time, your brain’s chemistry changes to accommodate this new norm. Your brain then comes to rely upon the opiates to fill those ‘pits’. If the pits are not filled, the body reacts in a very negative way – that is the experience of withdrawal.
How Does Opiate Withdrawal Effect The Brain/Body?
Opiates impact many different body systems, so the experience of withdrawal is very much a total body experience, which is part of what makes opiate withdrawal so unbearable and profoundly debilitating for some individuals. Opiates impact three primary areas of your brain.
First, the limbic system- also known as “the control center” for emotions. When the individual has opiates on board they will feel relaxed and content, in control of their emotions. When they are not present however, the individual will feel stress and anxiety, and often have difficulty sleeping.
Second, the brainstem- which controls your body’s breathing, temperature and heart rate. When the individual has opiates on board the heart rate and respirations tend to slow. Once withdrawn however, they tend to experience a racing heart, sweating and the chills.
Third, the spinal cord- the highway which transports signals between the body and the brain. Under the influence of opiates, the individual experiences reduced pain signals, but once opiates are withdrawn, the experience of pain becomes present and the individual may feel lots of aches and pains, similar to the flu. Headache, runny nose and excessive tearing are also common symptoms.
Digestive upset is yet another typical opiate withdrawal symptom. Individuals may vomit or experience diarrhea; often, people experience both. This can lead to dehydration, which results in more feelings of discomfort, as it may worsen nausea and exacerbate headache. If dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea continue, the individual may suffer from a severe electrolyte imbalance, which can ultimately lead to seizures. This firestorm of symptoms also makes it virtually impossible to sleep, which only worsens the individual’s anxiety and misery.
How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last?
The duration of the withdrawal varies among individuals. The worst typically occurs for a span of three to five days. Some may feel close to normal in about one week, whereas others may feel unwell for two or three weeks. It all depends upon how long it takes the individual’s body to normalize and recover. With such a broad range of what are often very severe symptoms, it’s no wonder individuals seek out help for easing the withdrawal process. That’s precisely where kratom saves the day!
Kratom can produce lots of opiate-like effects, but it’s not an opiate. This is key, as it provides relief, without perpetuating the cycle of dependence upon the opiate. The active ingredients in kratom are called alkaloids. One alkaloid, called mitragynine, is a stimulant, while the other primary alkaloid, 7-hydroxymitragyine, is regarded as a sedative and analgesic. Like opiates, these alkaloids impact the brain’s μ-opioid receptors — the same receptors or ‘pits’ that are affected by opiates.
How Do You Use Kratom for Opiate Withdrawal?
So will kratom help with opiate withdrawal? Yes. Absolutely. You can use kratom for mild opiate withdrawal or more severe withdrawal. Ideally, you should have kratom on-hand before the withdrawal progresses to the severe stage. Keeping ahead of the game, so to speak, is best as it will allow for optimal stability. So rather than waiting for withdrawal symptoms to progress to a severe state, it’s wise to take kratom before the symptoms become unbearable. Remember that vomiting and nausea are very common symptoms of opiate withdrawal and all methods entail drinking or eating the kratom. If you’re suffering from acute vomiting, it may be very difficult to keep down your dosage of kratom. So it’s very important to take kratom before you start feeling the full impact of withdrawal.
When using kratom for withdrawal, it’s important to select a variety that is best suited to your unique symptoms. Some kratom varieties provide greater relief for anxiety and stress, while others are more effective in providing sedative effects and promoting sleep and relaxation. Other varieties work well for providing a boost of energy. Consider which symptoms are most troublesome or bothersome to you and select a kratom variety that is best suited to bringing about the effects that will counteract your bothersome symptoms.
Kratom’s most powerful effects last about 4 to 5 hours, so when you begin to feel a ‘break-through’ and when your symptoms begin to return, it’s time to take an additional dosage. The kratom dose for opiate withdrawal will vary according to your unique physiology, the type of opiate you were taking, and the dosage that you were taking. It really varies among individuals, so most would recommend taking a moderate dosage of 2-4 grams of kratom powder. Then, wait a period of about 30 minutes to feel the effects. After 30 minutes passes, take an additional 1 gram. Wait an additional 30 minutes and re-evaluate. If necessary, take 1 additional gram. This process can be repeated until you achieve the optimal dosage. Once you determine the right frequency and the ideal kratom dosage for opiate withdrawal symptoms, you can take this dosage throughout the most intense period of withdrawal. Once you begin to feel more like ‘normal’ and the withdrawal symptoms begin to wane, you can begin the process of weaning of kratom.
Is kratom addictive? Kratom is not addictive, but it is always best to gently transition away from kratom rather than stopping suddenly. This allows for a less abrupt change at a physical level and at a psychological level. Remember that many withdrawal symptoms are psychological and many have an intense fear of withdrawal. So even though there is no physical cause for withdrawal, an individual can still experience symptoms if the mind believes that withdrawal is going to occur. Therefore, it’s best to gently wean off of kratom, gradually reducing the dosage each day and/or extending the amount of time between doses. You can wean at a rate that is comfortable for you.
Many use kratom to get off opiates. It is regarded as a very safe solution, as kratom does not create the serious risk of overdose that you see with opiate drugs. What’s more, kratom has vey few, if any, side effects. So if you are considering using kratom for opiate withdrawal, take some time to research to find out if it’s the right solution for you!
Wendi Rook, ARRT R.T. (R)(T)