A Complex Case of Kratom Dependence, Depression, and Chronic Pain in Opioid Use Disorder: Effects of Buprenorphine in Clinical Management

J Psychoactive Drugs. 2020 Nov-Dec;52(5):447-452. doi: 10.1080/02791072.2020.1773586. Epub 2020 Jun 17.


Mitragyna speciosa (Kratom) is a psychotropic tropical tree that is indigenous to Southeast Asia, Africa and New Guinea. Kratom has gained popularity in the United States in more recent years as an opioid agonist. Although Kratom is considered an opioid agonist with abuse potential, its use is not federally regulated. We report on a 47 year-old male presenting to our clinic for treatment of an opioid use disorder. This began with the use of prescription opioids from a doctor, and when this was no longer available this patient started using Kratom. He had used Kratom for one year to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms and chronic pain, resulting in worsening depression, anxiety and pain. He experienced tolerance and withdrawal symptoms related to Kratom. He was initiated on buprenorphine-naloxone at home with improved pain management. Four months after initiation, the patient's depression and anxiety symptoms resolved, and he was able to discontinue his antidepressant and anxiolytic medications. Kratom dependence and withdrawal appear similar to that of opioids, and may also lead to worsening depression and anxiety. Buprenorphine-naloxone may be a viable option to consider for treating opioid use disorder complicated by Kratom use, chronic pain, and depression.

Keywords: Kratom; buprenorphine; chronic pain; depression; mitragyna speciosa.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Buprenorphine / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy*
  • Depression / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitragyna / adverse effects*
  • Naloxone / therapeutic use
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Pain Management
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / drug therapy
  • United States


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Naloxone
  • Buprenorphine