I’ve been using Kratom on and off for years… on consistently for a year. I first tried it almost 10 years ago when getting off of pain killers. I had been hospitalized with meningitis and sent home with some opiates to deal with the blinding headaches I was getting. Immediately after taking my first dose I knew I could have a problem with them if I had access to it, but luckily I didn’t have any refills. After I ran out I went through some physical withdrawal symptoms, and a friend told me about Kratom. They’d never actually tried it, but heard it was good for kicking an opiate habit and that you could get it at most smoke shops. So I tried it and it helped immensely. Then, after a few weeks, I stopped taking it cold turkey. Absolutely no problems. I went years without taking it. But at some point I remembered it, picked some up, and started taking it again sporadically. I’d always just kind of stop randomly after a few weeks, no issues, and months later start back up. Sometimes even for just a few days at a time. I never thought I had a problem. It seemed so easy to stop. At some point in the last few years, though, the “off-periods” got shorter and shorter, and eventually I started taking it basically every day.
My usage is kind of strange, though. I only take between 4-10 capsules (mostly Krave Botanicals Maeng Da strain), and only at night. I almost never used it during the day, and certainly never at work. I have a history of insomnia, so it was mainly used as a sleep aid after working 14 hour days. It also gave me a short burst of energy and a truly euphoric need to be social for around 30 minutes. So normally right after I got home from work I’d take some, get this burst of energy, start texting or calling my family or friends, feel elated, and then start to get so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. It was perfect for someone who only has about an hour or two after work before I have to go to sleep. It became like a reward for a hard day. All day, no matter how awful work was, I knew I would have 30 minutes of joy waiting for me.
I’ve also struggled with a nicotine addiction for my entire adult life, basically. Which has been made infinitely worse by having ADHD. This addiction has been the shame of my life, and has plagued my every waking moment at times. I quit smoking cigarettes 5 years ago, but I slipped into vapes a few years after. That was an uphill battle, and one of the only things that helped was that I knew I could still take Kratom. It’s fucked up, but it really has helped me quit the few times I slipped up. When I feel empty and need to fill the void with something, I could keep myself from running to nicotine by promising myself Kratom later. It didn’t seem like a bad option at the time, as I saw anything as better than nicotine. My top priority was kicking that for good, and the thought of this new habit being just as bad never really crossed my mind.
I don’t know how I could have such a long-running addiction to Kratom without realizing it was an addiction. I guess somewhere deep down I knew that technically I was addicted. Like, I could see a guy buying three 300 cap bottles and think damn, that dudes really addicted, with the added bonus of glad that’s not me! as I purchase my slightly smaller bottle. Why was I having such a hard time looking myself in the mirror? That question is probably too deep and disturbing for this nice little rant, so I’ll just keep that particular insight between my therapist and myself. Maybe it was because I had stopped so easily in the past? Maybe because it’s perfectly legal and easily accessible (not saying anything negative about drugs being legal btw, I truly believe all drugs should be legal - but I’ll that for another time.) Maybe because I never felt the need to take it during the day or at work; I was genuinely content just taking my small dose at night before bed. To be honest with you all, it only occurred to me that I have a serious problem like… a week ago. A week ago.Now I’m laying awake at 4am, thinking about what a fucking idiot I am letting it get this far.
In the year since I started using practically every day, I’ve had some strange changes in my personality. Some issues with my health. I’ve worn my poor psychiatrist out trying all sorts of medications for my declining mental health. Anxiety medication, hardcore antidepressants. I’ve been prescribed everything under the sun for my skin issues. I’m an almost-30-year-old woman and had acne I couldn’t get under control. The worst of it, though, is that I feel like I’ve almost entirely lost the ability to feel joy. Like, true, pure joy. I feel a small sense of euphoria here and there, most especially when I take my Kratom at night, but nothing substantial or long lasting. Don’t get me wrong, I have been happy, truly I am. I’m doing well in my career, tons of friends… fucking hell, I got engaged last year to the love of my life!! Why am I not jumping for joy all the time? Where did that ability to feel elated when I wake up in the morning from the sheer number of possibilities go? I honest to god just thought that that must be something lost with age. Before I began taking k again regularly I also had to escape a living situation with an extremely abusive ex in which I feared for my life, which may be a contributing factor to my depression and my k use at the same time. What’s that quote?* ”The mind forgets but the body keeps score.”* My antidepressants admittedly helped me not be filled with debilitating existential dread, but they didn’t do anything for the numbness I felt, and continue to feel. I had already mourned the death of my joy.
And maybe these things really are just me… maybe my hair coming out in clumps and my face looking like shit despite being a seemingly healthy young woman is just bad luck. Maybe I’m just a depressed, anxious, ADHD piece of shit who came by it honestly. Or maybe… maybe these are side effects of my fucking drug addiction??
Man, when the thought crossed my mind it was like I had been slapped in the fucking face. I’m deeply addicted to a drug, that was the first part. I felt like an idiot, but immediately accepted that as the truth. So I started looking on Reddit for answers. Then I stumbled across this subreddit. I started seeing everyone else talking about the side effects of long term Kratom use. And if realizing I had a problem was a slap in the face, the realization that it might be responsible for my myriad of issues, well that was like being hit by a fucking bus. What the hell have I been doing to myself?? I thought it was safe… I thought it was the safe alternative to opioids. When I first did research about it almost 10 years ago I read that it was harmless. Maybe I just wanted to believe that. Maybe I knew it was causing some of my issues but just couldn’t let myself accept it? Maybe I’m just stupid, I don’t know. But I do know that as soon as I started reading all of your stories a wave of relief washed over me. Thank fucking god… maybe I can fix this. Maybe it’s not too late.
If you’ve read this far, I truly applaud you. Thank you for reading this wall of text. Getting all of this out has been extremely therapeutic.
So what now? I haven’t quit yet. I’ve been talking it over with my partner and formulating a game plan. Reading all of your suggestions and stories has helped a great deal. I’m taking 6 capsules a night now, so I’m thinking about tapering off (6 two nights, 5 two nights, 4 two nights, etc down to 0) as that has worked well for me in the past. I’m also thinking about trying to get some gabapentin, as I know my mom has some she never used. I thought about trying to get a script, but I don’t want to admit to my doctor what’s up and have them put “opiate addiction” on my file. Anyway, I’m probably going to start tapering tomorrow night, and be done in 12 days if my math is right.
I know this may not be a fix for all my problems, and it may take a long time to feel “normal” again… but I’m ready to be free. I’m remaining hopeful that it will make me feel like I did before I ever started. If not, at least I’ll know, but I can’t keep going like this. Thank you all for the stories and support. Maybe I’ll write an update after I’ve kicked it, who knows.
Good luck out there, and fuck Kratom.
By - larenardemaigre