‘No Doubt’ Kratom Is an Opioid With High Abuse Potential

One of the two major psychoactive constituents in kratom has high abuse potential and may also increase the intake of other opiates, new research shows.

The finding contradicts claims by kratom makers that the substance has no abuse potential and supports the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) view that kratom is an opioid.

Derived from the plant Mitragyna speciosa, kratom is receiving increased attention as an alternative to traditional opiates and as a replacement therapy for opiate dependence. Mitragynine (MG) and 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-HMG) are the two major psychoactive constituents of kratom. Although MG and 7-HMG share behavioral and analgesic effects with morphine, their reinforcing effects have not been fully established.

Results of a series of experiments with rats show that MG does not have abuse or addiction potential and reduces morphine intake, “desired characteristics of candidate pharmacotherapies for opiate addiction and withdrawal,” Scott Hemby, PhD, Department of Basic Pharmacological Sciences, High Point University, High Point, North Carolina, and colleagues report.

In contrast, 7-HMG should be considered a kratom constituent with “high abuse potential that may also increase the intake of other opiates,” the investigators note.

The study was published online June 27 in Addiction Biology.

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