Kratom

Know the facts about kratom and connect with help and support to keep your child safe.

What are some slang terms?
Herbal Speedball, Biak-biak, Ketum, Kahuam, Ithang, Thom

What is it?
Kratom is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia, with leaves that contain psychoactive (mind-altering) opioid compounds. It is more commonly used in the Asia Pacific region than the United States.

What does it look like?
Kratom consists of fresh or dried leaves. It is sometimes sold as a green powder in packets labeled “not for human consumption.” It is sometimes sold as a liquid extract or gum. Kratom is also sold in pill form (gel capsules).

How is it used?
Kratom is consumed by chewing whole leaves, eating leaves mixed with food or brewing the dried or powdered leaves as a tea. Sometimes the leaves are smoked.

What do young people hear about it?
Kratom is consumed for mood-lifting effects and pain relief and as an aphrodisiac. People who use kratom report increased energy, sociability and alertness.

What are the risks?
Reported health effects of kratom use include sensitivity to sunburn, nausea, itching, sweating, dry mouth, constipation, increased urination and loss of appetite. Kratom by itself is not associated with fatal overdose, but commercial forms of the drug are sometimes laced with other compounds that have caused deaths.

People who use kratom for long periods have experienced anorexia, weight loss, insomnia, dry mouth, frequent urination and constipation. Psychotic symptoms (hallucinations, delusion, and confusion) have been reported at high doses. Like other opioids, kratom may cause dependence (feeling physical withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug), and some people have reported becoming addicted to kratom. Withdrawal symptoms include: muscle aches, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggression, emotional changes, runny nose and jerky movements.

In recent years, some people have used kratom as an herbal alternative to medical treatment in attempts to control withdrawal symptoms and cravings caused by addiction to other opioids or to other addictive substances such as alcohol. There is no scientific evidence that kratom is effective or safe for this purpose.

What are signs of use?

  • Sensitivity to sunburn
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Increased urination
  • Loss of appetite
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

Next Steps

Look for Warning Signs

Do you think your child may be using drugs? If so, have you noticed any of these changes or warning signs?