Can drug tests detect kratom? Yes, sometimes. Any substance can be detected if a particular test is looking for it. In fact, tests that specifically look for the presence of kratom, or rather its two main alkaloids, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, are commercially available. It would be within an employer’s or law enforcement’s rights to test you for kratom use, but the standard drug panel tests most commonly used for most purposes do not test for kratom as of this writing. Kratom is still legal in most areas of the United States.
Kratom is a native southeastern Asian tree in the coffee family whose leaves yield some forty different alkaloids or nitrogen-containing compounds. It comes in three strains, which are the sedating and pain-relieving red, the stimulating white and the mixed-effect green strain. The opium obtained from the opium poppy also contains a number of different alkaloids. Some of them, like morphine and codeine, are used in medicines and are also drugs of potential abuse. An opioid is just a substance that has opiate-like effects in the body. Opioids can be synthetic, natural or semi-synthetic and either chemically related to each other or not.
The FDA has declared kratom to be an opioid and a drug of concern because it claims that its alkaloids bind with the mu opioid receptor in the brain. That much is true in that kratom does bind with the mu, but in itself, this isn’t enough to prove it has opioid effects exactly like those seen with well-known opioids like fentanyl and oxycodone. After all, the opioid overdose drug naloxone also binds with the mu receptor, even more strongly than other opioids do, and yet it has no narcotic effects of its own.
Kratom has been implicated in the overdose deaths of a small group of people, but these people had also ingested other substances, including opioids, so it’s not at all conclusive that kratom was even implicated. Kratom, unlike other opioids, doesn’t recruit beta-arrestin, a protein linked to opioid overdose death caused by respiratory depression. Kratom is most often sold in powdered leaf form as either a loose powder or in half-gram capsules. It tastes terrible. The effect is dose-related. One to four grams is typically a stimulating dose with effects similar to those of a couple cups of coffee. For sedation, pain relief and euphoria, the required dose is much higher, in the at least five to 15 gram range. Kratom has been associated with reports of serious, but mostly reversible, liver damage in some users.
Is Kratom an Opioid of Concern?
People who have taken both standard opioids like hydrocodone and oxycodone and kratom mostly say that at best kratom provides a mild euphoria not really comparable to the powerful high of most prescription and illicit opioids. Euphoria is also perceived differently by different people. Some people find caffeine to be euphoric. There have been reports of kratom addiction and dependence, but again, these reports don’t typically reflect the same levels of addiction normally seen with true opioids. On the other hand, there is considerable anecdotal evidence that kratom can relieve opioid withdrawal symptoms at least partially. If this is true, then kratom must indeed be capable of acting on the brain’s opioid receptors similarly to opioids like fentanyl, morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone and methadone, at least to some degree.
Of the two main kratom alkaloids, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, it’s the latter the FDA claims to be some 30 times stronger than morphine. However, if that were true, and the substance worked on the mu receptor like morphine does, it’s common sense that many people would be seen with true kratom overdose, and this doesn’t happen. Of course, any substance, even water, can kill in high enough doses, but kratom appears to be pretty safe so far. Besides that, it’s been used in Asia to provide energy, relieve pain and anxiety and help with sleep for centuries.
Many countries consider kratom to be a true narcotic and have banned it. Even a few states in the United States have banned it in certain areas or even outright statewide. For example, kratom is legal in California as long as you’re not within the San Diego city limits. Other states may have similar ordinances, so be aware of that if you’re using or possessing the substance away from your hometown and especially abroad. Kratom is illegal in Wisconsin, Vermont, Arkansas, Indiana, Alabama and Tennessee.
If you have any questions or concerns about kratom, our professional counselors are available 24 hours a day at 844-639-8371 to assist you. We look forward to your call.