Kratom is an emerging and popular substance today, and many people use it to cope with symptoms of opioid withdrawal. However, kratom is not approved by the FDA, and it can interact negatively with other medications that are intended to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms, such as Suboxone.
While kratom and Suboxone share some of the same characteristics, the two substances have potentially serious interactions. As a result, you should never take kratom while you are on Suboxone.
What is Kratom?
Kratom is an herbal substance that can produce opioid-like effects in high doses and stimulant-like effects in low doses. There are two psychoactive chemicals in kratom: mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine. Mitragynine is a partial opioid agonist that produces effects similar to morphine.
Kratom can be taken as an oral supplement, consumed as a tea, or the leaves can be smoked. People may take small doses of kratom for an energy or mood boost, and people may take larger doses of kratom for pain relief, euphoria, and sedation. Because kratom produces similar effects as opioids, many people use it to cope with symptoms of opioid withdrawal.
Kratom is sold legally and over the counter in many states as a dietary supplement, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any pharmaceutical uses for kratom. However, the FDA has warned Americans that kratom users are at risk of addiction, abuse, and dependence.
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone is an FDA-approved prescription medication used to treat opioid dependence and addiction. It is a combination medication that contains two active ingredients:
- Buprenorphine – a partial opioid agonist that binds to mu-opioid receptors in the brain and body, activating them, but to a lesser degree than full opioids like methadone. Buprenorphine treats symptoms of opioid withdrawal and lessens drug cravings.
- Naloxone – an opioid antagonist that blocks the euphoric effects of other opioids and prevents individuals from abusing Suboxone. Naloxone creates a “ceiling effect” where even if users snort or inject Suboxone, they do not get high. Instead, users may experience precipitated withdrawal symptoms if they take an opioid.
Suboxone can be taken 12-24 hours after a person last took opioids. Taking Suboxone too early while opioids are still in the system can result in sudden and severe withdrawal symptoms. However, if taken as directed, Suboxone can alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms and keep drug cravings at bay. Individuals who are taking Suboxone should be participating in a comprehensive treatment program involving behavioral therapy, counseling, and peer support.
Can You Take Kratom While On Suboxone?
Mixing kratom and Suboxone is never a good idea. Kratom is a partial opioid, and taking it while naloxone in your system can result in a phenomenon called precipitated withdrawal.
Precipitated withdrawal is a condition that appears when people take opioids on top of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) medications like buprenorphine. This occurs with kratom because kratom activates naloxone, and the naloxone will suddenly knock all opioids in your system off of opioid receptors. The sudden removal of opioid molecules results in severe withdrawal symptoms.
Symptoms of precipitated withdrawal include:
- Intense craving for opioids
- Severe anxiety or panic attacks
- Agitation and restlessness
- Excessive sweating
- Goosebumps or “cold turkey” skin
- Dilated pupils
- Gastrointestinal distress (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)
- Abdominal cramps
- Muscle aches and pains
- Bone and joint pain
- Insomnia or sleep disturbances
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Runny nose and watery eyes
- Depression or dysphoria
- Increased sensitivity to pain
- Yawning or excessive yawning
It’s important to note that precipitated withdrawal is a medical emergency, and if you suspect someone is experiencing it, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention.
If you have been prescribed Suboxone for opioid withdrawal but are still experiencing painful withdrawal symptoms, you should not turn to kratom for relief. Taking kratom while you are on Suboxone can produce severe precipitated withdrawal symptoms. Instead, talk to your doctor about increasing your dose of Suboxone or about using other opioid detox medications, such as methadone, clonidine, or lofexidine (Lucemyra). These medications are safer, have been approved by the FDA, and are available via prescription only.
Can You Take Suboxone for Kratom Withdrawal?
Regular kratom users may take kratom in such high doses that they experience extremely painful withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it. Some people even report that quitting kratom is just as difficult or more difficult than quitting other opioids.
Kratom withdrawal produces the same symptoms as opioid withdrawal–nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bone and muscle pain, body aches, intense drug cravings, insomnia, and more. In severe cases, Suboxone may be prescribed to manage symptoms of kratom withdrawal.
Kratom is a short-acting opioid, so patients can safely take Suboxone 12-24 hours after their last dose of kratom. Taking Suboxone too soon after taking kratom may result in severe withdrawal symptoms, so it’s essential to take Suboxone exactly as prescribed.
Find Help Today
If you are addicted to kratom or looking for relief during withdrawal, our team at Moving Mountains Recovery can help. After connecting you to a trusted detox center near you, we’ll arrange a treatment plan for you that will help you overcome your addiction issues once and for all. Don’t wait any longer to get the help you deserve. Call today to speak with a trusted admissions counselor.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): Kratom, Retrieved May 2023 from https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/kratom
- Opioid receptors and legal highs: Salvia divinorum and Kratom, Retrieved May 2023 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18259963/
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA): FDA and Kratom, Retrieved May 2023 from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-and-kratom
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA): Suboxone Prescribing Information, Retrieved May 2023 from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2021/022410s042lbl.pdf
- National Library of Medicine: A Case of Severe Kratom Addiction Contributing to a Suicide Attempt, Retrieved May 2023 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9616552/