The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) currently includes kratom on its "Drugs of Concern" list and the National Institute Drug Abuse (NIDA) has identified kratom as an emerging drug of abuse. Kratom is a tree, native to tropical regions in Southeast Asia. It is known for its stimulant effects and as an opioid substitute. Its street names include Herbal Speedball, Ketum, Biak-biak, Kahuam, Ithang and Thom.
Kratom can be sold as a green powder, an extract or a gum. It is processed in a similar fashion to cannabis, whereby the leaves are dried and then made into a powder or oily resin. The leaves can be chewed, used as a tea, smoked or consumed in food.
Kratom has been used as an herbal alternative to treat or reduce withdrawal symptoms caused by opioids or other addictive substances including alcohol. However, there is no scientific evidence that supports the use of kratom for this purpose.
Like other opioid substances, kratom may cause dependence, with some users have reported addiction to kratom. Symptoms of withdrawal include insomnia, irritability, muscle aches, runny nose, aggression, jerky movements and emotional changes.
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