Does Kratom Show Up on a Drug Test? What You Need to Know

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

On March 18, 2024

Written By

Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

On March 18, 2024

What you will learn

  • Kratom is a popular alternative to opioids that’s been growing in use.
  • Though it’s legal in some areas, kratom is banned in some states and jurisdictions.
  • Standard drug tests used by employers don’t detect kratom, but specialized tests used by medical facilities and law enforcement can.
  • More research is needed into the standard drug testing windows for kratom.
  • Kratom can be addictive and may cause withdrawal if its use is stopped suddenly.
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Kratom has been gaining popularity as an alternative to prescription painkillers. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 1.7 million Americans aged 12 and older used kratom in 2021.[1]

While it’s not controlled under the Controlled Substances Act, kratom isn’t legal in every state. Even where it is legal, there can be heavy regulations around its sale and use. Learn more about kratom drug test detection and what you need to know for employment and legal implications.

What Is Kratom?

Kratom is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia. It contains active compounds that can have mood-enhancing and anti-inflammatory effects. Kratom has been used as a traditional medicine for hundreds of years.

Recently, kratom has been used as a remedy for numerous conditions, including conditions with chronic pain and opioid withdrawal symptoms. It’s also used to achieve euphoria.

Kratom can be used in many ways, including, extracts, consuming whole leaves or brewing them into tea. It’s also available in stores in capsule or powder form.

Is Kratom Legal?

The FDA has not approved any prescription or over-the-counter drug products containing kratom or its two main chemical components: mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, so there are no legal drug products on the market in the US.[2]

However, several states have legalized the substance for sale, including Nevada, Utah, and Georgia.[3] It’s also banned in several states and unregulated in others, meaning there is no law against it but no specific law allowing it.

Currently, kratom is available online and in brick-and-mortar stores in some states. It’s important to stay updated on your current laws and regulations if you use kratom, however, as legislation is rapidly changing.

How Long Does Kratom Stay in the Body?

How long does Kratom stay in the body?

Kratom, a substance derived from a Southeast Asian tree, may produce stimulating effects at lower doses and sedative effects at higher doses. Despite this, the range of effects and elimination times for kratom aren’t well known.

The most active ingredient in kratom is mitragynine, which acts as an opioid agonist and activates the opioid receptors. This is why it has effects that are seen as an alternative to opioids.

Mitragynine is absorbed through the GI tract and reaches peak plasma concentration in under an hour. Then, the liver metabolizes it and breaks it down into metabolites (byproducts).

Research indicates that the primary active compound in kratom, mitragynine, has an estimated half-life of about 24 hours, though elimination times can vary, potentially extending up to 40 hours. [4] Generally, kratom stays in the body for 6-9 days. Several factors may impact how long the drug takes to eliminate, including:

  • Dosage and method of administration: Higher doses naturally have a longer duration. The duration kratom remains in the body can be affected by the method of administration, with oral consumption potentially leading to longer detection windows compared to other forms of use.
  • Leaves: There are a few strains of kratom leaves that have different potency and effects. Green leaves are milder and have effects that last eight hours, while white leaves are highly stimulating and can have effects that last for several hours.
  • Weight and age: Older people have slower metabolisms and may need more time to process the drug. Given that mitragynine, the active compound in kratom, is fat-soluble, individuals with higher body fat percentages may experience longer drug retention times, similar to substances like THC in marijuana.
  • Diet: Taking kratom on an empty stomach can have a shorter detection window compared to taking it with a heavy meal.

Does Kratom Show Up on a Drug Test?

Because kratom is relatively new in the US and legal in some places, substance testing for kratom isn’t as common as other drugs. A standard 5- and 10-panel test used by employers to screen potential hires will not detect the drug, but it can test for amphetamines, opioids, marijuana, and other more common drugs.

Some specialized tests are capable of detecting kratom, however, such as chromatography techniques or urine drug screens that specifically look for mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine. Employers don’t usually rely on these tests, but law enforcement may for in-depth investigations.

Although most standard drug tests do not specifically target kratom, it’s crucial to understand the potential for kratom’s metabolites to cross-react in drug screenings, possibly leading to false positives for other substances.

Kratom Drug Testing Detection Windows

Between kratom’s newer usage and the specialized tests to detect it, there’s not enough research to fully understand how long it’s detectable in urine, blood, hair, and saliva.

However, these tests can have long detection windows in general. Saliva tests can detect drug use within a few hours and up to a few days after consumption, while hair follicle testing can detect drug use for months after use. Available research suggests that this applies to kratom as well.[5]

What Is the Legal Implication of Kratom Detection on a Drug Test?

If kratom shows up on a drug test, any potential legal issues will depend on the local jurisdiction. Some states have outright banned the substance, including Indiana, Alabama, and Arkansas. Some states allow kratom, but specific cities have banned it, such as San Diego.

Testing positive for kratom in jurisdictions where it is banned may lead to legal repercussions, with the specific consequences varying based on local laws and the context of the test. On the federal level, kratom is legal, and its use is subject to local laws and regulations.

What Are the Implications If Kratom Shows Up on a Workplace Drug Test?

Employers may use drug testing to screen new hires or as part of routine drug testing for current employees. They often use the 5-point urinalysis test, which doesn’t detect kratom.

Still, states or jurisdictions that have a kratom ban may use specialized testing to screen for the substance’s metabolites. This is especially true of workplaces with strict employment rules, such as government agencies, law enforcement, or medical facilities.

Ultimately, whether you will be denied employment if a test detects kratom use depends on the rules of the employer.

Kratom Abuse and Addiction

Kratom has not been well studied at this point, but it can induce psychoactive effects that can lead to abuse. Taking kratom over time can lead to tolerance or the need to consume more to achieve the same effects, which can progress into an addiction.

With regular use, it’s possible to experience kratom withdrawal if you stop taking the drug suddenly. The withdrawal experience can be different for everyone, but the symptoms generally include:[6]

  • Jerky limb movements
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping
  • Cravings
  • Runny nose
  • Hot flashes
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Anger
  • Nervousness
  • Depressed mood
  • Sadness

Withdrawal is often more severe with heavy use and dependence. If you’ve been taking kratom for longer periods or at high doses, quitting to beat a drug test can result in uncomfortable and intense withdrawal symptoms.

Ideally, kratom dosage should be tapered – or weaned – slowly to minimize withdrawal symptoms. While it’s possible to detox from kratom at home, it’s best to enter a medical detox environment with medical supervision to manage symptoms and prevent relapse. When withdrawal becomes severe, the urge to use again to relieve the withdrawal symptoms can be impossible to resist.

If you have a kratom addiction, entering an addiction treatment program after detox is an important step to living free of substances. Both inpatient and outpatient settings address the underlying causes of addiction to understand why you abuse kratom and how to make healthier choices.

Seek Help for Kratom Addiction

Drug tests that can detect kratom aren’t widely used, but that may change as kratom use rises. If you use kratom and have an upcoming drug test, don’t quit cold turkey. Detox is the best way to get off of kratom safely and minimize intense withdrawal symptoms.

If you are trying to find drug addiction therapy programs near you, we have centers in New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York, such as a drug rehab in Long Island, New York along with a rehab center in Staten Island.

Frequently Asked Questions About Kratom Drug Test Detection

Can Kratom Trigger a Positive Drug Test Result?

Kratom use has been reported to potentially trigger false positives in drug tests due to its metabolites. The specific substances for which kratom might be mistaken can vary, and while documented instances are rare, there have been reports, such as one case where kratom was linked to a false positive for methadone. [7]

Can Kratom Show Up as Opioids on a Drug Test?

Kratom is viewed as an alternative to opioids because it acts on the brain’s opioid receptors, but it has a different chemical structure. Due to its distinct chemical structure, kratom is generally unlikely to be detected as opioids on standard drug tests that screen for common opioids.

Do Employers Drug Test for Kratom?

The likelihood of employers’ drug testing for kratom varies and is largely dependent on the nature of the workplace and the jurisdiction. While most standard employment drug screenings do not currently test for kratom, specialized testing can be employed, especially in regions where kratom use is subject to legal restrictions. Some employers have strict rules against substance use and may have specialized tests, particularly in areas where kratom is banned. However, this may change as tests become more available and kratom use becomes more widespread.

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[1]Results from the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and … (n.d.-a).

[2]Commissioner, O. of the. (n.d.). FDA and Kratom. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

[3]Kratom Regulation: Federal status and state approaches. (n.d.-a).

[4]Trakulsrichai, S., Sathirakul, K., Auparakkitanon, S., Krongvorakul, J., Sueajai, J., Noumjad, N., Sukasem, C., & Wananukul, W. (2015, April 29). Pharmacokinetics of mitragynine in man. Drug design, development and therapy.

[5]Kratom drug testing in hair and nail – exclusively at USDTL. United States Drug Testing Laboratories Inc. (2020, August 4).

[6]Vicknasingam, B. (2024, March 31). Kratom (mitragyna speciosa) dependence, withdrawal symptoms and craving in regular users. Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

[7]Pierre, C., Gineste, C., & Bazydlo, L. (2020, October 28). A kratom metabolite causes false positive urine drug screening results for methadone. OUP Academic.