Know the facts and connect with support to help you address known or suspected substance use with your child.

    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.[1] Also known as herbal speedball, ketum, kahuam, ithang, thom, it consists of fresh or dried leaves that are chewed whole, mixed with food or brewed as a tea.[2] Kratom is sometimes sold as a green powder in packets labeled “not for human consumption,” sold as a liquid extract or gum, or sold in pill form (gel capsules).

    Kratom is consumed for mood-lifting effects and pain relief and as an aphrodisiac. People who use kratom report increased energy, sociability and alertness.

    Understand 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.[3]

    Identify & address use

    Signs of use include sensitivity to sunburn, itching, sweating, constipation, increased urination and loss of appetite. If you’re concerned your child may be using kratom or other substances, the following can help you address the behavior more effectively.

    Spot the Signs of Teen or Young Adult Substance Use

    A few simple tips and guidelines can go a long way toward spotting issues with drug use earlier rather than later.
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    How Worried Should I Be About My Child’s Drug Use?

    So your kid has been using drugs or drinking. Is this just what kids do? Is it going to become a problem? Don’t leave the answers to chance.
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    What Do I Do if My Child is Using Drugs?

    It can be scary if your child is using drugs or alcohol, and it's important to confront it. We're here to give you tips and strategies on how to do it.
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    Last Updated

    June 2020

    [1]NIDA. “Kratom.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 20 Sep. 2018, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/kratom. Accessed 30 Nov. 2018.
    [2]“Kratom.” DEA, https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/kratom.
    [3]“Get Smart About Drugs.” Find Help | Get Smart About Drugs, https://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.gov/drugs/kratom.
    Additional Sources:
    National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

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