Pandemic & The Opioid Crisis | Is Kratom an Opioid

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Pandemic & The Opioid Crisis | Is Kratom an Opioid

August 14, 2020

Did you know the COVID-19 pandemic is making the U.S.’ opioid crisis even worse? Newsweek recently released an article that digs into the opioid crisis and how the pandemic is impacting well, pretty much everything. 

As if we didn’t hate Corona enough already, there’s something new we can blame it for. The opioid crisis is getting worse. It was bad already, with opioid deaths increasing in 2019 over 2018, but the shelter-in-place orders & other parts of the pandemic seem to be making things even worse. 

First Off, What’s An Opioid?

Opiates and Opioids are substances that interact with the opioid receptors in the brain. These terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a slight difference-

Opiates are substances made from natural opium, like what’s found in poppies. Opiates are derived naturally. ex: some heroin, morphine. 

Opioids are made at least partly synthetically in order to interact with opioid receptors.  ex: hydrocodone, fentanyl. 

Is Kratom an Opioid?

Kratom is neither made from opium, nor is it synthetically produced. It is a natural substance, but not from opium, that happens to interact with opioid receptors in the brain. 

Unlike opioids, kratom is not synthetically produced, it’s just that the alkaloids present in kratom happen to interact with these receptors. Other natural substances like chocolate and breast milk do the same thing, yet we don’t consider them to be opiates or opioids. 

The Opioid Epidemic & The Pandemic

Newsweek’s article states that Shawn Ryan, Chair of Legislative Advocacy for the American Society of Addiction Medicine, has seen a nationwide spike in overdose deaths by almost 15%. In hot-spot states like Kentucky and Ohio, that number is closer to 25%. 

Why Would the Pandemic Impact Opioid Use/Overdose Rates?

It turns out, the connection between increasing opioid overdoses and staying home during a pandemic makes total sense. We are dealing with so many things that can influence drug abuse. Things like:

Increase in Stress and Anxiety 

Less Social Interaction & Support

Money Problems & Financial Instability 

Essentially, if it can make your mental health worse, it can probably make drug addiction & usage worsen as well. 

Unfortunately, the opioid epidemic had already been hitting new peaks- 2019 saw a 5% increase in deaths per day over 2018, and much of that is linked to the rise of fentanyl. 

What is Fentanyl? 

A synthetic opioid crafted for pain relief purposes. It’s like morphine or heroin, but is roughly 50 times stronger. It’s been added into heroin supplies in the U.S. market for the past several years, and the results have been noticeable and serious. Because it’s so strong the possibility of overdose is much higher, but that same strength is why drug dealers won’t stop using it- it’s profitable. The profits selling fentanyl are huge, much more than heroin itself. 

What To Do?

As it turns out, there might be something in the works that could help those dealing with addiction. The Newsweek article goes on to discuss a project that’s been in the works for a long time, started by a scientist named Dr. Kim Janda. He came up with the idea- in our opinions, a brilliant one- to develop antibodies that react to drugs. Simply put, antibodies react to and latch onto perceived alien substances in the body like bacteria or viruses. Dr. Janda’s idea was to create an antibody for different addictive drugs. Ideally, these antibodies would latch onto drug molecules and neutralize them.

Some of Janda’s students have picked up where he left off, and they have continued to develop his ideas. They expect that we may see versions of antibody treatments for addiction over the next few years. 


Interested in the similarities and differences between kratom & opioids? Read on!

kratom spoon

Disclaimer: This article is not intended for medical purposes nor is it making any claims. It is provided as information only. Our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 

Kratom and Opioids | Is Kratom an Opioid

There are similarities between kratom and opioids, but what are they exactly? And what makes kratom and opioids different? 

Similarities Between Kratom and Opioids

Kratom and opioids both interact with the opioid receptors in your brain.

When an opioid attaches to an opioid receptor, it blocks the brain from getting pain messages. That’s why opioids are such great pain relievers, because they try to force your brain to stop acknowledging pain. 

Kratom alkaloids are much less powerful than an opioid, but they also attach to opioid receptors. That means kratom may block some pain signals. However, kratom probably won’t block all pain signals if the pain is severe, whereas opioids probably would. Kratom is known to potentially provide mild relief from discomfort because of this ability. 

Differences Between Kratom and Opioids

As stated above, opioids are way stronger than kratom. While kratom may bind to the same part of the brain, the effects are not as strong as opioids. 

The major difference between kratom and opioids is that kratom is a derivative of opium. Kratom trees and their leaves are actually related to coffee plants, not opium plants. That means that kratom is definitely not an opiate, a substance derived from opium. 

Some people would debate that because kratom has an impact on opioid receptors it is an opioid. We’d argue that because kratom does this naturally, and not synthetically like most opioids, that kratom is not an opioid either. Also, there are many substances that impact opiate receptors without being an opioid, like dark chocolate. So, is kratom an opioid? No. Not in our opinion, anyway. 

Learn more about kratom here

Going through a tough time due to COVID19 and struggling to afford your favorite GRH Kratom products? Send an email to to see what we may be able to do to help. 

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Link to the original Newsweek article:

Jasmin Weber

Jasmin Weber has been working in the kratom & CBD industry for 3 years with Grassroots Harvest and GRH Kratom. She regularly writes content for both the cannabis and kratom websites of these stores & can also be found featured on related sites around the web.

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