According to a cross-sectional survey of non-medical use of prescription drugs (NMURx) program, covering a total of 59,714 respondents aged 18 years or older, between the third quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019, weighted to represent the adult US population:
- There were about 2,031,803 adults who used kratom in the past year in the US, an estimated prevalence of 0.8%.
- This number rose to 3,353,624 adults and 1.3% when life-time prevalence was considered.
- Kratom users were younger, 35 years on average, with greater prevalence among males versus females (61.0% versus 48.6%)
- Kratom use was also about twice as common among students (14.1% versus 7.5%) and health-care professionals (9.7% versus 4.5%)
- Kratom users were less likely compared with non-users to hold bachelor’s/advanced degrees (33.4% versus 42.6%)
- Among those who used kratom in the past year, 36.7% also used prescription opioids non-medically, 21.7% used illicit opioids, 54.4% used another illicit drug, and 67.1% used cannabis.
- The Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST-10) profile was more often substantial/severe in kratom users compared to non-users (21% versus 1%).
According to a recent report and sample that analyzed data from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and a crowdsourced online convenience sample:
- Kratom use in the US is mostly for symptoms of self-treating depression, anxiety, fatigue, pain, and substance use disorder (SUD).
- Kratom use may also be more common in regions where prescription opioid addiction is more common since it is well-known for its use as a full opioid agonist substitute in both the short- and long-term.
- Kratom use may also be affected by targeting from media outlets.
- Both data sources showed kratom use was higher among people who were younger, white, employed, at least high school educated, and above the poverty line, as well as those reporting past SUD or nonmedical opioid use or treatment.
- Data supports a general “white middle-class suburban” kratom user profile
- Drug-use history may presently be the strongest predictor of kratom use, as people with a history of lifetime nonmedical opioid use were up to 5 times more likely to use kratom over the past year.
According to research from Johns Hopkins University:
- Kratom is somewhat similar to prescription opioids and likely has a lower rate of harm for treating anxiety, depression, pain, and addiction.
- The researchers caution that while kratom is not regulated or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. drug agencies should regulate and study it, not ban kratom altogether due to its potential therapeutic use.
Learn more about the potential effects of a kratom ban.