In a dimly lit bar in kratom drink, customers gather to drink kratom. But unlike most bars, this one serves no booze. Instead, jumbo plastic cups of iced kratom tea are the most popular drink of the night. The customer base is diverse, from the magician to the repo man and the metalhead picking Slipknot on her unplugged Stratocaster. Many are in recovery from substance abuse, and many have been using kratom for years.
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tropical tree in the coffee family native to Southeast Asia, and its leaves can be chewed for energizing energy or sipped as tea for pain relief or to calm anxiety. It contains dozens of phytochemicals, and its effects vary depending on the dose. Smaller dosages produce stimulant-like effects, and larger ones cause opiate-like sedative-narcotic properties. The chemicals mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine bind to opioid receptors and cause feelings of euphoria, sedation and pain relief.
The Ultimate Guide to Kratom Drinks: Benefits and Preparation
Despite its calming and pain-relieving effects, kratom has a dangerous side effect: It can cause opioid withdrawal. Social worker Michele Scasserra says she’s seen more and more admissions at Blake Recovery Center for kratom addiction in the past few years.
Those who use kratom for a long time are at a higher risk of becoming addicted, and people with mental health problems or other drug addictions have the most trouble overcoming dependence on the herb. The FDA warns that kratom can trigger seizures and a variety of other symptoms, including agitation, tachycardia, drowsiness and vomiting. In the United States, calls to poison control centers about kratom have spiked in recent years. A study published in Pharmacotherapy analyzed data from 55 poison control centers and found that more than half of those who reported using kratom complained of adverse effects, including tachycardia and agitation, and nearly 20% had experienced vomiting.