The Use of Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa Korth.) Among People Who Co-use Heroin and Methamphetamine in Malaysia

Darshan Singh, Suresh Narayanan, Balasingam Vicknasingam, Walter C Prozialeck, Kirsten Elin Smith, Ornella Corazza, Jack E Henningfield, Oliver Grundmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa Korth.), an indigenous medicinal plant, has been widely used as a traditional remedy in Southeast Asia. However, its combined consumption with other substances has received scarce attention. This study investigates the use of kratom among adults with a history of using heroin and methamphetamine in Malaysia.

METHODS: A total of 332 patients who were mandated to undergo drug rehabilitation participated in this cross-sectional study. The study data were collected through face-to-face interviews using a semi-structured questionnaire.

RESULTS: The majority were males (95%, n = 314/332) and Malays (98%, n = 325/332) with a mean age of 32.3 years (SD = 9.16). Over two thirds of the respondents used kratom to alleviate heroin withdrawal symptoms and to reduce methamphetamine intake; 59% used it as a substitute for heroin and methamphetamine. A similar proportion used kratom to reduce heroin intake (58%), while only 15% used it for its euphoric effects. Multivariate analysis showed that previous attendees of government rehabilitation programs had lower odds of using kratom as a heroin substitute.

CONCLUSIONS: The potential of kratom to alleviate heroin withdrawal symptoms, and to reduce methamphetamine and heroin intake, among people who co-use heroin and methamphetamine warrants further research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Addiction Medicine
Early online date17 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 May 2021


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