Kratom Withdrawal: Signs, Symptoms, Treatment Options

Kratom has the unique ability to provide powerful pain relief with few side effects; however, this is also its downfall.

Many people are concerned over its potential for abuse because it acts on the same opioid receptors as your standard prescription painkillers, such as morphine or oxycodone.

Yes. Kratom can be addictive — anything that makes you feel good (including food) has that potential for addiction.

Kratom acts differently than other opioids. It doesn’t cause respiratory depression, the leading cause of death with opiate overdose, and the withdrawal symptoms are relatively easy to overcome.

If you find yourself dependent on kratom, there are simple steps you can take to overcome the addiction. Here’s what kratom withdrawal looks like, what you can expect to feel, and how to minimize symptoms.

Last updated 1 month ago by Tom Krah

Kratom Withdrawal: Signs, Symptoms, Treatment Options

Does Kratom Cause Withdrawal?

If you’re using kratom responsibly, it’s unlikely you’ll even face withdrawal.

Responsible use isn’t difficult to achieve — far from what “responsible use” for other opiates looks like.

Kratom is a plant that contains many active ingredients. This fact alone makes it much harder for the body to develop tolerance.

Single compounds, which are found in prescription painkillers, target just one receptor. The body will build up a tolerance very quickly — leading to the effects we refer to as withdrawal.

It’s possible to use kratom almost daily and never become addicted.

With that said, some people can still develop a strong dependency to kratom over long periods of time and will feel pretty awful whenever they stop taking it. 

Related: How to quit using kratom.

Kratom Withdrawal vs. Opioid Withdrawal

Concern over kratom centers on its opiate-like tendencies. How bad is it, though? Let’s compare it to other opiates.

Related: Opioid addiction statistics in the United States.

Severity: Kratom vs. Synthetic Opioid Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms from kratom aren’t exactly a walk in the park. Severe dependency can make users feel pretty terrible while the body gradually adapts and reverses the dependence it’s formed to the substance.

When we say kratom withdrawal is mild, this is only in comparison to the withdrawal of synthetic opiates — which involves persistent pain, dramatic mood swings, severe headaches, explosive vomiting and diarrhea, hot and cold flashes, insomnia, anxiety, seizures, and more.

Users with severe opiate withdrawal need to be hospitalized to manage symptoms.

Kratom withdrawal usually lasts for an average of 7-10 days. This is comparable, if not slightly longer, than synthetic opiate withdrawal, which can last anywhere from 5 to 20 days depending on the detox program.

Severe addiction is usually weaned off over the course of several weeks to avoid the severe side effects of sudden withdrawal.

Common kratom withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny nose and watery eyes
  • Changes in mood
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Irritation

Common synthetic opiate withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Lacrimation
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety, sometimes severe
  • Muscle pain
  • Tachycardia
  • Seizures
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Cravings
  • Nasal discharge

Overdose Risk: Kratom vs. Synthetic Opioids

Kratom interacts with opioid receptors but not the same way other opioids do; it doesn’t recruit β-arrestin-2 [1]. The activation of β-arrestin-2 is the cause of most opioid side effects, primarily respiratory depression [2].

This activation of beta-arrestin-2 is the primary cause of opiate-related overdose deaths. Kratom lacks this action and is therefore substantially less likely to result in death from overdose. 

How Long Does Kratom Withdrawal Last? 

The typical timeline for dealing with kratom withdrawal is about one week. However, this can vary depending on the person’s health, how addicted they are, etc.

Based on over 80 case reports and anecdotal reports, we’ve broken down the withdrawal period from kratom into the following timeline:

Phase 1: The First 48 Hours

The effects of kratom last about 6 hours, so the first signs of withdrawal will start to creep in around this time.

Over the next 48 hours, symptoms will continue to worsen as any remaining kratom alkaloids are eliminated from the body.

Depending on your individual habits, you may notice difficulty sleeping the first night.

Phase 2: Day 2 – 4

By the end of day two, your symptoms will be approaching their peak. This is the most intense part of the withdrawal, which will last for another two days before starting to subside.

You’ll likely experience diarrhea, nausea, lethargy and fatigue, irritability, headaches, and a strong urge to take more kratom.

The severity of this stage will depend on the extent of your addiction to kratom.

Phase 3: Day 5–14

Starting around day four or five, the severity of withdrawal symptoms will start to subside. Each day you’ll find you have more energy and fewer symptoms.

For mild addictions, you should be back to about 95% of normal by day 7. For more severe addiction, this could take up to 14 days before you reach 95%. 

How Long Does Opioid Withdrawal Last?

The length and severity of withdrawal depend on the amount and extent of opioid use. Different opiates also cause varying degrees of symptoms, though short-acting ones tend to be worse.

Heroin withdrawal usually begins within 12 hours, peaks between 36-72 hours, and lasts 7-10 days.

Fentanyl starts after 8-16 hours, peaks at 36-72 hours, and lasts 5-8 days.

Methadone symptoms don’t start until 30 hours after the last use, peak between 72-96 hours, and can last up to 14 days.

Tips for Reducing Symptoms of Kratom Withdrawal

Going through kratom withdrawal won’t be comfortable, but it also won’t last for very long. You can reduce your withdrawal symptoms in several different ways.

1. Stay Hydrated

Some of the side effects of kratom withdrawal can include diarrhea and vomiting. These can quickly dehydrate you, so be sure to keep your hydration and electrolytes up by drinking plenty of water.

2. Take Another OTC Pain Pill

You may experience a fever or muscle aches during the withdrawal process. Some people will use over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin to relieve these symptoms and reduce the chances of relapsing on kratom.

3. Eat Frequent But Small Meals

Stick to a bland diet and eat frequent but small meals. This may help ease some of the stomach discomfort.

4. Take an OTC Antidiarrheal

You may want to use an over-the-counter medication like bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol) to help ease stomach discomfort and help stop diarrhea.

The more you can do to reduce your most uncomfortable symptoms without turning to kratom or another opiate, the higher your chances of sticking it out to the end and quitting kratom successfully.

5. Take an OTC Antiemetic

If you’re suffering from vomiting or nausea, try taking bismuth subsalicylate (the same used for diarrhea). You can also make a strong ginger or peppermint for a similar level of improvement.

6. Sleep as Often as Needed

You may feel anxious or have irritability. If you get a full night’s sleep and nap during the daytime as needed, it should help alleviate these symptoms.

When quitting kratom, it’s a good idea to schedule some time off work for the first four days (at least). If this isn’t possible, avoid doing any extraneous activities during this time and try to avoid adding anything extra to your schedule during this time.

You should spend as much of your time sleeping as possible. This is going to speed up the recovery process and shorten the number of days you have to endure symptoms.

7. Engage Your Mind

Doing things that you enjoy can keep your mind engaged as you go through withdrawal. Keep things you enjoy on hand, including puzzles, music, movies, and books.

8. Use Relaxation Techniques

Yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises are a few of the many techniques that will help with insomnia, anxiety, and pain.

9. Talk to a Friend or Counselor

Talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling. Socializing is one of the easiest and most effective ways of releasing endorphins, which is the body’s natural version of opiates. These endorphins may help reduce the severity of the withdrawal symptoms.

Can You Take Phenibut To Help With Kratom Withdrawal?

Phenibut is a nootropic and anxiolytic drug that isn’t approved in the USA, but it’s available as a dietary supplement. Some people believe that phenibut is good for kratom withdrawal.

Taking kratom and phenibut together is a bad idea.

The risk of getting addicted is much higher than with kratom. Tolerance can happen quickly [4].

It’s better to steer clear of phenibut altogether, especially if you’re dealing with kratom withdrawal. Mixing the two together, even for the sake of quitting, can be dangerous and may only further complicate the problem you’re trying to solve in the first place.

Key Takeaways: How Bad Is Kratom Withdrawal?

Kratom can become habit-forming or addictive, but only if you use it too often or in large amounts. Withdrawal symptoms last for about a week.

Kratom is legal in most areas of the U.S., but that doesn’t mean you should take huge quantities of the substance. Staying at 12 grams or less is a good way to avoid kratom withdrawal.

It also helps to take periodic breaks from using kratom to allow the body time to reduce tolerance formation and prevent full-blown dependency.

References

  1. Váradi, A., Marrone, G. F., Palmer, T. C., Narayan, A., Szabó, M. R., Le Rouzic, V., … & Majumdar, S. (2016). Mitragynine/corynantheidine pseudoindoxyls as opioid analgesics with mu agonism and delta antagonism, which do not recruit β-arrestin-2. Journal of medicinal chemistry, 59(18), 8381-8397.
  2. Mafi, A., Kim, S. K., & Goddard, W. A. (2020). Mechanism of β-arrestin recruitment by the μ-opioid G protein-coupled receptor. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(28), 16346-16355.
  3. Pergolizzi Jr, J. V., Raffa, R. B., & Rosenblatt, M. H. (2020). Opioid withdrawal symptoms, a consequence of chronic opioid use and opioid use disorder: Current understanding and approaches to management. Journal of clinical pharmacy and therapeutics, 45(5), 892-903.
  4. Jouney, E. A. (2019). Phenibut (β-phenyl-γ-aminobutyric acid): an easily obtainable “dietary supplement” with propensities for physical dependence and addiction. Current psychiatry reports, 21(4), 1-6.