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Substance Use Disorder Related to Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) Use in Malaysia

[ Vol. 8 , Issue. 1 ]


Darshan Singh, Mohammad F.I.L. Abdullah, Balasingam K. Vicknasingam and Christian P. Müller*   Pages 64 - 71 ( 8 )


Background: Kratom is a traditional medicinal herb with mild addictive properties. Nevertheless, current available data on substance use disorder related to kratom use is scarce. This study aims to clinically evaluate and identify factors that are associated with kratom use disorder among regular kratom tea/juice users in traditional settings in Malaysia.

Method: 150 regular kratom users were recruited through convenient sampling for this crosssectional study. They were interviewed with Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (M.I.N.I.) to diagnose substance use disorder related to kratom use, while the Ketum Dependence Scale (KDS) and Clinical Opioid Withdrawal Scale (COWS) were administered to evaluate kratom dependence and withdrawal severity.

Results: All subjects were males with the majority being Malays (99%, n=148/150). More than half were single (n=84/150), had secondary education (91%, n=136/150), and were employed (93%, n=139/150). Almost all (99%) fulfilled the criteria for substance use disorder related to kratom use, 95% reported withdrawal symptoms on abstinence, 87% reported tolerance, and 93% craving for kratom. Results from Chi-square analysis indicated that higher quantity (>3 glasses) of daily kratom tea/juice consumption was significantly associated with severe kratom dependence (OR: 2.1: 1.0-4.5: p<.041) and moderate withdrawal (OR: 3.1: 1.5-6.3: p<.002). Similarly, those who consumed >3 glasses of brewed kratom tea daily had higher odds of reporting longer kratom use history (>7 years) (OR: 4.4: 2.2-8.8: p<.001) and higher frequency of daily kratom use (>5 times) (p<.001), compared to those who consumed less than three glasses of kratom daily.

Conclusion: Our findings indicated that regular and chronic (>3 glasses daily) kratom tea/juice consumption was associated with kratom use disorder, severe kratom dependence and moderate withdrawal.


Dependence, kratom, withdrawal, Mitragyna speciosa, Malaysia, herb.


Centre for Drug Research, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 Minden, Pulau Pinang, Lifestyle Sciences Cluster, Advanced Medical and Dental Institute, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Bertam, 13200 Kepala Batas, Pulau Pinang, Centre for Drug Research, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 Minden, Pulau Pinang, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Clinic, Friedrich- Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Schwabachanlage, Erlangen

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