Citation: Yolk. "An Unexpected Love Affair: An Experience with Kratom (exp98929)". Erowid.org. Jan 23, 2014. erowid.org/exp/98929
It has been an eventful four months since kratom unexpectedly entered my life and assumed in it a role of moderate significance. I am a healthy and athletic twenty year old male attending a West coast liberal arts college. I have a considerable background in many drug types from amphetamines to psychedelics to prescription opiates, with marijuana providing a consistent backbone from a young age. I consider myself an experienced, responsible, and self-aware drug user. What follows is my experience with kratom leaf powder, told with the intent of providing guidance to both those considering a serious relationship with this plant and those simply curious about its effects.
Getting Into Kratom: The Invisible Hand
Over the summer I was talking to a friend about her interest in substances and she mentioned kratom, which I had heard of in passing but was largely unaware of. I instantaneously knew deep down that I would soon acquire this substance and that I would adopt its use. It was uncanny how automatic it felt, even for the first time, to drive to the head shop and pick up a 30-gram bag for $20. I felt an almost magnetic attraction to it.
I had no idea how to take this drug nor what a normal dosage was, so I began cautious experimentation. I would mix half a spoonful or so in with some water, drink it down, and feel a slight pleasant headiness but nothing that cut through the mix. After much experimentation I would determine that simply parachuting the powder is the easiest and most effective way to ingest kratom. I concluded that kratom is a benign substance and carries no cause for alarm, and one day decided I was going to take enough to get me high for sure.
The strain of pure, natural (i.e. not an extract or anything – I do not trust enhanced or extracted kratom to this day) powdered kratom leaf I was eating was called Maeng Da, and I retroactively estimate this dose to be roughly 3 grams, which I would claim is a safe and appropriate first dose and is what I normally give newcomers, though I have seen first-time users take as much as 5 grams without it seriously affecting them. An important point: people's individual reactions to kratom seem to vary more widely than with other drugs, especially concerning dosage. I highly recommend purchasing a scale accurate to 0.1 grams for even moderate use of kratom. I got one for around $5 online. It is very important to get to know your own body and keep track of exactly how much you take with this plant.
What I Feel When I Take Kratom
Threshold effects begin about 30 minutes after eating the powder. At one hour after ingesting, effects are in full swing and remain at roughly that level for about four hours. The comedown occurs at a steady rate for the next two hours, making the whole experience about 6 hours in total for me. Effects include the following:
- An extremely pleasurable feeling of warmth in my chest, especially intense when taking deep breaths. I would describe kratom's effects as being very connected to the heart chakra. This is the opiate aspect of kratom, and the dominant effect in my opinion.
- A mental quietness, as if all the unnecessary fluff is cut out of my internal mental monologue, leaving only what is strong and deliberate. Kratom does a great job at easing anxiety of all forms.
- Increased energy, especially regarding physically involved tasks. I spent a lot of time building a large treehouse with only hand-tools while on kratom and noticed myself feeling much less physically tired than normal, as well as felt less aches and pains. This subtle stimulant quality is one of my favorite aspects of kratom, and is the reason I consistently choose the Maeng Da strain in particular.
- Increased sociability. Conversations flow easily while on kratom, and I find myself acting more giddy than usual. I laugh a lot on kratom.
- A small but significant decrease in mental processing speed. Doing homework on kratom is fun and totally realistic, but it takes me slightly longer for mechanical work and significantly longer for more complex work like lab reports. Kratom can also slightly impair memory.
- A subtle dizziness.
- Waves of a nausea-like feeling in my stomach. This generally only occurs when something is slightly wrong, like taking a larger dose than I should have or taking a dose on a completely empty stomach. It is also sometimes unpleasant to eat while on kratom.
- Kratom and marijuana are an excellent pair. While marijuana and most drugs will easily dominate kratom, kratom does a great job of taking away the negative effects of marijuana such as social anxiety and feeling burnt out. Marijuana is in turn useful for relieving the above-described nausea that kratom can give.
- A subtle aphrodisiac effect, increasing sexual desire as well as enhancing performance. In some people this effect is very significant while others find it relatively minor.
- Time passes more quickly on kratom.
Going Steady With Kratom: The Golden Months
Kratom seemed to be the ideal substance. It felt totally natural, extremely pleasurable, and at least as functional as marijuana if not more. Kratom seemed to enhance any occasion and there was never a significant reason not to take it, except when 100% mental clarity was needed such as on tests. I knew that addiction was a possibility, however, so I implemented a strict rule for myself: I would not take kratom for more than two consecutive days; in other words, take every 3rd day off. Prospective users, I highly recommend setting a strict rule like this and rigidly adhering to it, as I almost certainly wanted to do it more and more once I did it a few times.
Most days I ended up taking two equally-sized doses which hovered around 4 grams a dose. This routine continued for two months and everything was truly great. I could take days off, thus demonstrating that I was not dependent or so I thought. My tolerance only increased from 3.5 grams to 5 grams a dose over two months. Fairly quickly I moved from buying overpriced bags from head shops to ordering 4 oz, then 8 oz bags online, which were much cheaper, completely satisfactory, and the process was not a hassle at all as kratom is legal. I mostly bought Horned Leaf Maeng Da and paid around $45 for 4 oz. At one point I ordered a bag of Green Bali, which I found to have more opiate characteristics and less stimulant characteristics in comparison to the Maeng Da.
I look back very fondly upon this time period. Kratom really seemed to enhance life without disrupting it or taking it over. I did well in school and was very involved in campus activities. By and large, I took it without telling anyone. It was my own personal affair, my secret hobby. My friends didn't seem to 'get it' as much as I did and some dismissed kratom as being another of those herbal curiosities. Others liked it a lot, but ordering their own bag seemed to be outside their comfort zone. Only my roommate and I became regular purchasers and consumers of kratom. All throughout this time I had no trouble adhering to my two-day rule. In retrospect it is possible I was being naive at this point regarding my behavior.
At some point I decided that I was going to set aside the month of November as a completely sober month. I had done this in the past and figured it would be a generally good thing to do again. I had no real problem stopping with kratom after those two intense months, though I did experience something like an anxiety attack on Halloween evening which is probably unrelated to kratom because I hadn't gone off it yet, but worth mentioning. Nothing beyond what a hangover can do to me, at least.
After no-substance November ended I naturally started using kratom again. My confidence was renewed after having so easily given up kratom. I could feel strong effects at 3.5 grams again, and successfully kept my dosage from rising above 4 grams. I was also stressed out with end of the semester work so kratom offered a convenient reprieve. After the semester ended for the holidays I took it just as often while back at home and got to really enjoy the pleasure of it with full attention.
My Brief Addiction Period: A Peek Into the Void
This continued for a month up until New Years. I took my scheduled day off one day and realized towards the end of the day that my stomach felt off – a tight, yet turned-over feeling that varied slightly from classic nausea. That night, I couldn't sleep at all, and I knew right then deep down that the golden era had ended, for nausea and insomnia are two commonly reported symptoms of kratom withdrawal. I decided to stay off kratom completely 'for the sake of science' and discover whether or not I was truly suffering from withdrawal.
Day two was definitely the worst. The awful stomach feeling was there in force. I forced myself to run on the treadmill and felt significantly better after that. I also smoked a lot of weed, drank a lot of tea, and was able to get myself feeling good enough to go visit a friend, but I was still a good ways from being 100%. The insomnia hadn't improved and I didn’t sleep much that night either. Kava Kava tea was the only reason I did at all and I highly recommend this brew to anyone in this condition.
The nausea-like feeling and the insomnia were definitely the two most significant symptoms in my kratom withdrawal. I also had some minor headaches. I noticed I was slightly more irritable and reclusive than usual, but the emotional effects were surprisingly insignificant as compared to nicotine withdrawal, for example. Mostly I just felt like a dumbass for overestimating the threshold of responsible use. On a certain level, however, I think I was subconsciously waiting for an addiction to happen out of sheer curiosity for the substance and the experience.
Day three was similar to day two, but slightly improved. Day four was the first day that felt more normal than not. Day five was pretty close to normal, still smoking a lot of weed to deal with symptoms though. Day six was the first day I could definitively say I was out of the woods.
On the whole, my cold turkey wasn't a terrible experience though it was definitely unpleasant. Quitting smoking cigarettes after 5 years was worse. I would summarize the experience as like having a hangover for 5 days that I couldn't escape from by sleeping. My level of addiction wasn't super high, however, and I can definitely say that had I let my rampant kratom use go on for another month, for example, the withdrawal would have been pretty damn bad. I think it was because of doing it multiple times a day for multiple days in a row that I became dependent, despite the fact that I would regularly take days off.
Epilogue and Present Moment
A week after my detox started, I took a 3.5 gram dose of kratom again. I did not intend on quitting entirely when I went off it, only on reforming my rules and attitudes about taking it. That first dose was slightly unpleasant and nausea-inducing, but mostly felt great like before. Doses after that felt like doses before the addiction episode. My rule now is that I can only take it once in a day and I cannot take it two days in a row. It has been awhile now and I think this level of use is appropriate and will not land me in the same place as before. However, only time will tell.
It is strange to think that six months ago I had never tried kratom. It seems so normal to me now, yet I am always excited to take it when I get the opportunity. While I was feeling low because of its influence over me, however, I did theorize about what role kratom really plays in my life. On the one hand, it is completely harmless and innocent – smoking weed is innocent and kratom is certainly more innocent than smoking weed. On the other hand, I do wonder sometimes whether or not I use kratom to alleviate the painful emptiness that comes with living in American society now.
I do not know what the future holds for my kratom use. Perhaps this term I will gradually order bags less often until kratom becomes something I only do occasionally. However it could well be that kratom will stand alongside marijuana as regularly used substance for me. Either way, I can honestly say that the kratom plant is a true blessing if used appropriately. However, when dealing with kratom, one should remember that they are dealing with a real opiate that should be given respect as such.
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