Who Is Using Herbal Kratom?

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay reporter

THURSDAY, April 29, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Herbal kratom is used by less than 1% of the U.S. population, but the rate is much higher among those who abuse opioid pain relievers, according to a new study.

Kratom is used to manage pain and opioid withdrawal. However, it carries the risk of addiction and harmful side effects, which has led the United States Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration to identify kratom as a “drug of concern.”

The herbal substance, while legal, has been linked to thousands of poisonings and hundreds of deaths in the United States, most of which also involve the use of other drugs, particularly opioids.

In the new study, researchers looked at data collected from more than 56,000 American teens and adults in the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Overall, 0.7% of respondents had used kratom in the past year, but use was more common among people who used other drugs, including cannabis, stimulants, and cocaine.


Kratom consumption was particularly high among people who abuse prescription opioids, and highest (10%) among those with opioid use disorders, according to the results.

Men, whites, and people with depression and severe mental illness were also more likely to report using kratom. Teens and adults over 50 were less likely to report drinking, according to the study published April 29 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“This study adds to our understanding of the prevalence of kratom and its link to opioid abuse,” said study author Joseph Palamar. He is associate professor of population health at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

“More research is needed to determine the substance’s effectiveness in treating opioid withdrawal, and more research is needed to determine how safe this substance is when combined with other drugs.” Palamar said in a press release from NYU. .

More information

The US National Institute on Drug Abuse has more on kratom.

SOURCE: New York University, press release, April 29, 2021

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