Every year it seems there is a new designer drug making headlines. This year, that drug is kratom, a derivative of a plant found in southeast Asia that has been used for many years as an herbal treatment for depression, diarrhea and pain and as a medication for opiate withdrawal. However, in the U.S., kratom has been found to have no established medical use.
In low doses, kratom acts as a stimulant but in high doses it has depressant and euphoric effects. Like other designer drugs, such as bath salts and Spice, kratom is not controlled by state or federal law and is easily accessible. Teens who abuse the drug may swallow capsules, chew or drink kratom leaves, or even snort the powder.
Effects of Kratom Abuse
Teens abuse kratom because it elevates mood, increases energy and promotes relaxation. While not a particularly powerful high, teens sometimes abuse it to improve their performance at school, in sports or during other activities. In many cases, kratom is used in conjunction with alcohol or other drugs.
The negative effects of kratom abuse include:
- Vomiting or nausea
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Symptoms of Teen Kratom Addiction
Like other designer drugs, kratom is undetectable in drug tests. Because teens can legally buy it in head shops or on the Internet, it can be difficult to identify the signs of a problem. But when used over time, it can be addictive. Symptoms of teen kratom addiction may include:
- Unexplained mood swings
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Excessive thirst and frequent urination
- Anxiety or agitation
Treatment for Kratom Addiction
Treatment for kratom addiction typically begins with detox. Teens who become dependent on the drug and stop using it abruptly may experience withdrawal symptoms, including poor concentration, irritability, fatigue, anxiety and restlessness. In some cases, teens may experience psychosis, a condition marked by confusion, delusions and hallucinations. These symptoms can be particularly acute when kratom is combined with alcohol or other drugs.
Following detox, teens complete rehab, where they address the issues underlying their drug abuse and learn skills needed for long-term recovery. In the company of other teens struggling with addiction, patients work with adolescent specialists to find healthier ways to cope with the stresses and pressures of life.
A legal high is not a safe high. If you suspect that your teen is abusing kratom or other designer drugs, address the problem before your teen spirals out of control. Kratom abuse often leads to harder drugs and is a red flag that something is amiss in your child’s life.