In the fog of the continued opioid epidemic and the rising efforts to combat synthetic drug use, it appears that a plant native to Southeast Asia has been growing in popularity in the United States. The plant, known as kratom, is rich in alkaloids and produce euphoric feelings when smoked or ingested. The import of kratom has been banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); however, because extracts of the drug are considered to be a dietary supplement the FDA has no authority to ban the sale of the kratom, The New York Times reports. In many states kratom is legal, and in order for the sale of the drug to be restricted the FDA has to prove that the plant is unsafe.
In a number of areas around the country, including South Florida, kratom bars can be found. Consumers can purchase brewed versions of the plant, unfortunately most consumers are unaware that kratom has opiate-like effects on the brain and has the potential for addiction, according to the article. What’s more, use of the drug has been tied to seizures, and can cause respiratory depression.
Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that kratom is being marketed as a way to overcome opioid addiction, something which would naturally appeal to opioid addicts. What is not being explained to them is that kratom has been banned in its native countries, such as Thailand for decades; there are also not being told that kratom may lead to a relapse on prescription opioids or heroin and kratom addiction itself may require addiction treatment services to overcome.
“It’s preying on the weak and the broken,” Dariya Pankova, 23, a Brooklyn native who received treatment in Delray Beach, told The New York Times. “It’s a mind-altering substance, so people like me who are addicts and alcoholics, they think just because it’s legal, it’s fine. It’s a huge epidemic down here, and it’s causing a lot of relapses.”
Kratom has been listed as a “drug of concern” by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the article reports. In order for the agency to control the substance, the must prove that the drug carries health risks and the potential for abuse.
Just because something is legal, does not mean it is safe for use. If you are currently addicted to opioids and are considering alternative ways to beat your addiction, the best thing you can do is turn to the currently accepted forms of addiction treatment. Family Recovery Specialists can help you begin the journey of recovery, our experienced team utilizes evidenced based approaches of addiction recovery – focusing on healthy behaviors and sound lifestyle choices.