Mitragyna speciosa, referred to as “kratom”, is increasingly used in the United States for self-treating pain, psychiatric, and substance use disorder symptoms. It is used by some to attenuate opioid withdrawal and as a longer-term drug substitute. Most self-report data have come from online surveys, small in-person surveys, and case reports. These may not be representative of the broader kratom-using population.
Analyze user-generated social media posts to determine if independent, descriptive accounts are generally consistent with prior U.S. kratom survey findings and gain a more nuanced understanding of kratom use patterns.
Reddit posts mentioning kratom from 42 subreddits between June 2019-July 2020 were coded by two independent raters.
Relevant posts (number of comments, upvotes, and downvotes) from 1274 posts comprised the final sample (n = 280). Of the 1521 codes applied, 1273 (83.69%) were concordant. Desirable kratom effects were described among a majority, but so too were adverse effects. Reports of kratom as acute self-treatment for opioid withdrawal were more prominent compared to longer-term opioid substitution. Quantitative analysis found higher kratom doses associated (p < .001) with greater odds of reported kratom addiction (OR = 3.56) or withdrawal (OR = 5.88), with slightly lower odds of desirable effects (OR = 0.53, p = .014). Despite perceived therapeutic benefits, kratom was characterized by some in terms of addiction that, in some cases, appeared dose-dependent. Polydrug use was also prominently discussed.
Results validated many prior survey findings while illustrating complexities of kratom use that are not being fully captured and require continued investigation.

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