1. Preliminary data from a convenience sample of kratom users noted that current kratom use disorder was detected in approximately one third of respondents.

2. Kratom withdrawal was also common reported, indicating that clinicians should be aware of the condition.

Evidence Rating Level: 3 (Average)

Kratom is a tree found in Southeast Asia. Kratom leaves contain a multitude of bioactive compounds, some of which have opioid activity. Many people use kratom to self-medicate for chronic pain, substance use disorder, psychiatric, or other conditions. However, kratom use is not typically asked about in clinical environments and is not well understood. The purpose of this study was to identify clinical characteristics of those who experience kratom use disorder (KUD) as well as withdrawal symptoms.

This study used a convenience sample from a larger online survey conducted between April 15-May 15, 2021 using Amazon Mechanical Turk (an online crowd sourcing platform). Only patients who reported kratom use from this survey were included (N=129, 44.6% response rate). Each of these individuals were re-contacted for researchers to gather further information. Patients who did not follow-up were excluded. Outcome variables included any information pertaining to KUD, comorbidities, and other demographic information.

The results show that among respondents who has used kratom, approximately one third met DSM-derived criteria for KUD. Many individuals reported continued use due to tolerance and withdrawal. Interestingly, most individuals did not report that kratom use impaired their psychosocial or occupational functioning. However, this study did have several limitations, including its use of a convenience sample and its small sample size, which may not be generalizable to larger populations.  Nonetheless, this study was significant in suggesting that KUD may be common among those who use kratom, and that clinicians and other healthcare professionals should be made aware of its prevalence.

Click to read the study in Journal of Addiction Medicine

Image: PD 

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