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Kratom Overdose: Dosage, Symptoms, & Treatment

Can You Overdose on Kratom?

Kratom is a plant-based product that has been used as a dietary supplement, a way to increase energy, and to manage pain. Although its past uses seem helpful, there are many dangerous aspects about this botanical product.There is little information on overdose from isolated use of pure kratom. Although there have been a number of deaths linked to the use of kratom, the real danger seems to be associated with the use of adulterated kratom or polysubstance use involving kratom.3

Adulterated kratom refers to kratom that has been mixed with any number of other substances. Buyers of the drug may believe they are getting a pure form of the drug but actually receive a very dangerous drug combination.

Kratom is widely available in many forms including liquids, tablets, and even gums or resins, and is relatively easy to obtain from a variety of online sellers. Users may be completely unaware of what exactly they are purchasing and consuming. The DEA states, “Because the identity, purity levels, and quantity of these substances are uncertain and inconsistent, they pose significant adverse health risks to users.”7 In fact, there have been some deaths linked to “dietary supplements” sold online containing kratom laced with other compounds.3

Since kratom is unregulated, there are no quality assurances or controls in place that guarantee the purity of kratom products being sold. For example, there have been reports of kratom being adulterated with other opioids such as hydrocodone.

Can Kratom Overdose Cause Death?

Serious harm or death may also result from intentionally taking kratom simultaneously with alcohol and other drugs like opioids, benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium), or gabapentin.3

How Much Kratom to Overdose?

A normal dose of kratom depends on the individual. In powder form, users typically take 3-9 grams. However, many individuals prefer to take kratom in the form of a capsule that typically contains 500-66 milligrams of powder per capsule. 

No matter the form, frequency, or dosage, it’s important for individuals to take into consideration the potential side effects of the drug as it can turn dangerous, addictive, and even deadly. As there are no reported numbers on how much kratom it takes to overdose, it’s difficult to determine a safe dosage. However, individuals with increased use have a heightened risk of overdose, especially when combined with alcohol and other drugs. 

Kratom Overdose Symptoms

Kratom may be deemed safe by its proponents; however, as with many drugs, its use is associated with several side effects and risks. Potential kratom side effects include:2

  • Insomnia
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Appetite loss/anorexia
  • Liver toxicity
  • Increased urination
  • Itching
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Seizure

Is Kratom a Public Health Threat?

  • There is an ongoing debate about kratom, with some pointing to its benefits in treating not only opioid dependence, withdrawal, and addiction but in managing pain, posttraumatic stress disorder, and alcohol cravings. And while research evidence supporting these purported benefits is lacking, the risks of using kratom remain.3,4
  • In a 5-year period, 660 kratom-related calls were made to poison control centers in the U.S. Of these, nearly 50 involved major life-threatening signs or symptoms.8
  • A primary concern about kratom is that there is so much about it that is still unknown. The FDA has stated its intention to continue studying this substance to determine the extent of its risks and potential benefits.5 While these are still unclear, it is still risky to take kratom, especially when the unregulated drug could contain unknown substances and harmful impurities.

 

 

Sources:

  1. Boyer, E. W., Babu, K. M., Adkins, J. E., McCurdy, C. R., & Halpern, J. H. (2008). Self-treatment of opioid withdrawal using kratom (Mitragynia speciosa korth)Addiction (Abingdon, England), 103(6), 1048-50.
  2. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2017). Drugs of Abuse: A DEA Resource Guide.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). What is kratom?
  4. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2018). In the News: Kratom (MItragyna speciosa).
  5. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2018). Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on the agency’s scientific evidence on the presence of opioid compounds in kratom, underscoring its potential for abuse.
  6. Bryan, Max. (2018). States Divided on Opioid-Withdrawal Alternative. USNews & World Report.
  7. United States Drug Enforcement Administration (2016). DEA Announces Intent to Schedule Kratom.
  8. Anwar M, Law R, Schier J. Notes from the Field. Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) Exposures Reported to Poison Centers — United States, 2010–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:748–749.
  9. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2013). Kratom (Mitragyna speciose korth).
About The Contributor
Scot Thomas, M.D.
Senior Medical Editor, American Addiction Centers
Dr. Thomas received his medical degree from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. During his medical studies, Dr. Thomas saw firsthand the multitude of lives impacted by struggles with substance abuse and addiction, motivating... Read More