Kratom as a Harm Reduction Tool

The term harm reduction refers to a public health strategy to reduce negative consequences resulting from activities such as illicit substance use and addiction. Whereas abstinence from dangerous drugs may be ideal, it’s not always realistic to expect abstinence from every addict at every stage of their addiction. Whether it’s handing out clean hypodermic needles or fentanyl test strips, administering opioids, naloxone training for overdoses, or decriminalizing substances, harm reduction looks to meet addicts where they live, rather than sweep them under the rug with an idealized version of how they should behave.

“Cars are dangerous. You put on a seatbelt — that reduces the harm,” journalist Maia Szalavitz told Dr. Josh King on the Beyond Addiction Show. “We don’t put spikes on the dashboard to get people to not have accidents. We recognize that crashes are going to happen sometimes.”

The spikes on the dashboard are symbolic of Prohibition, which has done little to prevent substance use and addiction or reduce the availability of illegal drugs. Harm reduction, on the other hand, has shown progress as a more realistic approach. Harm reduction treats addiction as a health issue rather than a crime or moral failing.

In 2001, Portugal decriminalized possession of small amounts of any substance, and implemented a public health program of harm reduction. Drug users are not charged and prosecuted, but given an addiction assessment and treatment options. This harm reduction policy ushered in a dramatic improvement in Portugal’s public health and drug problems overall.

the number of heroin users in Portugal has dropped from about 100,000 before the law to just 25,000 today. Portugal now has the lowest drug-related death rate in Western Europe, with a mortality rate a tenth of Britain’s and a fiftieth of the United States’. The number of HIV diagnoses caused by injection drug use has plummeted by more than 90 percent.

In Portugal and in the US, many addicts receive either methadone or Suboxone to treat addiction. These programs are designed to reduce harm. An addict on a minimal dose of pure opioids taken under medical supervision is safer than an addict buying unknown substances of unknown strength and possibly using dirty IV needles.

However, in these types of harm reduction programs, the patient remains addicted to opioids. And in a recent turn of events, MDs have been prescribing Suboxone to counter kratom addiction.

Kratom has shown to be an effective harm reduction tool, perhaps more effective than Suboxone or methadone, which in and of themselves can lead to miserable addictions.

Consumer testimony and studies in mice have shown kratom to be an effective tool to combat opioid physical dependency and withdrawal symptoms. Sociological studies have shown illicit drug users, after beginning kratom, engage in fewer HIV risk behaviors like using heroin or methamphetamine, using IV drugs and dirty needles, and having sex with sex workers (Swogger 2019). In another study, long-term kratom consumers in Malaysia, even those with a dependence, were found to have no impairment in social functioning (Singh 2015).

In most consumers, kratom is considered to be less addictive, easier to control, and easier to taper from and quit than opioids. Hundreds of individuals have posted to detailing their experience in breaking opioid or alcohol addiction with the help of kratom.

Addiction, perhaps more than any other disease, stems from trauma and often takes years and years to heal. Chronic pain sometimes never goes away. Realistically, all people cannot be expected to be sober all the time when substances exist that remove deep psychological and physical pain. Kratom may buy opioid addicts and alcoholics the time they need to work through their issues without killing themselves. Even those who take large amounts of kratom can be productive, employed, able to maintain relationships, and generally happy. Most people who use kratom already use it as a harm reduction tool.


2 thoughts on “Kratom as a Harm Reduction Tool”

  1. After a 30-year heroin addiction, I was directed to the methadone clinic. At the time it seemed a blessing, but after 5 years and countless slips on H and benzos, I went into a rehab stay. I was rushed to the hospital from the withdrawal seizures. It was a nightmare. When I got clean I still struggled with relapse until I started kratom. A normal day is 3-5 grams 3-4 times a day and it keeps me at a very sane and serene level. Not high. I began noticing an improvement in my depression as well. I no longer take anti-depressants and am clean. As long as pharma holds tight to its profits over lives mentality it’s up to us to make the choice.

  2. This fits my pattern of use. I use kratom to combat withdrawal from tramadol and treat chronic pain. My dose is stable, rarely changes, and as a result I don’t even think about running out of kratom. This is largely because I have a large stockpile, but also because I’ve gotten used to taking the minimum amount that works for me, 6g at least and can go up to 8g if the pain is bad, but never once over that. Realistically I’d likely be free of the tramadol since i haven’t had any in over a year, but the pain I was prescribed it for, scoliosis, is never gone. Kratom just kills it. As opposed to tramadol, which took massive amounts to even put a dent in it, and never got rid of it no matter how much I took. As a result, My tramadol tolerance skyrocketed, and had it not put me in the hospital with a seizure I’d likely either be dead or so deep in debt I’d be homeless. When I kicked my addiction, I had gotten three or four, possibly five, lones from various companies to buy the stuff, and as a result those are now in collections because they kept wanting increasing amounts of money, and I have to pay bills, and rent, which have also gone up. I buy kratom once per month, never more, never run out, and never approach even high, let alone extremely high, doses of kratom. I take it at least 3 times per day, going up to 5 on extreme days, but there aren’t many of those. My doctor hates it, or at least is skeptical of it, and she fired me for kratom use, so good riddens. 90 percent of my doctor visits were either to obtain, or get a dose increase on, tramadol, along with her trying anything and everything but tramadol to treat me. Tramadol isn’t really known for a bad drug of abuse, but addiction is a real issue with tramadol, despite wikipedia claiming the addiction liability is only “present” not moderate, high, or severe. If you are considering taking tramadol or another opioid for your pain or opioid dependence, at least give kratom a chance, if it is legal in your area, before you take that step. If it fails, by all means talk to your doc about opioid pain meds, but at least try kratom first. If I had, I’d never have these four or five collections accounts which call insessantly, and I’d likely never have ordered tramadol over the internet from online pharmacies, which is a legal gray area, but indisputibly expensive. I do believe one of those lones was for rent or bills, possibly 2 at most, but I do know most of them were for tramadol. In addition to that, I would overdraw my account by hundreds every single month, to the point where the bank finally disabled overdraft protection. Now that I’m on kratom, I haven’t overdrawn since I started it, nor do I have overdraft protection turned on. I’m not saying my personal dose of kratom of 6g is the recommended dose or will work for you. DO your research, ask for help, to find your own dose. There is no overdose risk for kratom or it’s active chemicals that I know of, so kratom has a wide theraputic window, which means it’s difficult, if not impossible to overdose on kratom to the point of symptoms, and I believe death from kratom in humans is either impossible or extremely difficult. Kratom users don’t inject, snort, or smoke kratom because doing so doesn’t benefit them, you don’t get high or have stronger effects if you do. I’m done talking now, this is just my two cents

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