Kratom: Friend or Foe?
Due to the opioid-like properties of Kratom, it is currently under investigation and is being considered a “drug of concern.”
Kratom is the new hip thing across America among youth as well as addicts in recovery. Dispensaries, vape stores, and herbal tea shops are popping up across the nation selling Kratom in various forms, claiming that it is a safe alternative to opioids for pain management and anxiety. Is Kratom really as harmless as it seems? Let’s take a deeper look.
What is Kratom?
Kratom is a tropical tree that is native to Southeast Asia. The leaves contain two compounds that have mood and mind-altering effects similar to those of some amphetamines and opioids. These compounds bind to opioid receptors in the brain, resulting in feelings of euphoria and decreased pain while also causing an increase in pleasure and energy.
Some cities and states have banned the use of Kratom, but as far as legality goes, it is completely legal in the eyes of federal legislation. At the same time, it is widely irregulated and is not FDA approved.
Kratom is frequently taken as a pill or extract, but sometimes the leaves are chewed, brewed into tea, or smoked. Many people see Kratom as a safe alternative to stronger pharmaceuticals, but this may not be the case.
Despite popular belief that Kratom is safe, during a span of 18 months, a CDC study found that 91 people suffered from a fatal overdose attributed to the use of Kratom. The study examined the fact that although these fatalities are only responsible for 1% of all overdose deaths, 80% of people who overdosed on Kratom had a known history of substance abuse.
This suggests that people, including people with a substance use disorder, are abusing Kratom in a dangerous way. Due to the opioid-like properties of Kratom, it is currently under investigation and is being considered a “drug of concern.”
The Problem with Kratom
Advertising a substance that has opioid-like properties as a “safe” drug is particularly dangerous to individuals who struggle with opioid use disorder. Getting sober from opioids isn’t easy, and cravings can last for months on end. Many people who are struggling with cravings, but don’t want to use opioids, may turn to Kratom in order to ease their obsession for stronger drugs, like heroin or oxycodone. However, there are other ways to manage opioid cravings rather than marketing Kratom towards recovering opioid addicts.
Despite having no federal legislation against it, the FDA has even warned the public that Kratom has addictive qualities.
Let’s face it – there is a lot of money to be made on people who suffer from addiction by offering them safer alternatives. In the end, addiction is a disease, and the potential profit to be made from drugs like Kratom is not worth the lives it has the potential to take.