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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017 Nov 1;180:340-348. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.08.034. Epub 2017 Sep 20.

Prevalence and motivations for kratom use in a sample of substance users enrolled in a residential treatment program.

Author information

1
Kent School of Social Work, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292, United States. Electronic address: kirstenelin.smith@louisville.edu.
2
Kent School of Social Work, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292, United States.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Kratom use in the West has increased recently, yet the prevalence and motives for use among individuals with a history of substance use disorder (SUD) have not been fully examined. Kratom has been documented as a means of treating chronic pain, mitigating drug dependence, and easing withdrawal symptoms, yet it is unclear if substance users are utilizing kratom as a self-medication. Abuse liability, side effects, and overall appeal of kratom remain uncertain.

METHODS:

In April 2017, an anonymous survey regarding kratom use and motivations was completed by clients enrolled in a 12-Step-oriented residential program. 500 respondents with a self-reported history of SUD completed the survey.

RESULTS:

20.8% of respondents endorsed lifetime kratom use and 10.2% reported past-12-month use. Kratom-users were younger (=32.1 vs. 35.9, p<0.001) and were more versatile substance users. A majority (68.9%) of kratom-users reported having used the drug as a means of reducing or abstaining from non-prescription opioids (NPO) and/or heroin, and 64.1% reported using kratom as a substitute for NPO/heroin. 18.4% of kratom-users reported using the drug due to a disability or chronic pain. One-third of kratom-users stated that kratom was a helpful substance and that they would try it again. However, kratom was not preferred and was indicated as having less appeal than NPO, heroin, amphetamines, and Suboxone.

CONCLUSIONS:

Among substance users, kratom use may be initiated for a variety of reasons, including as a novel form of harm-reduction or drug substitution, particularly in the context of dependence and withdrawal from other substances.

KEYWORDS:

Emerging drugs; Harm-reduction; Kratom; Mitragyna speciosa; Opioid

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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