Kratom: An Emerging Drug of Abuse

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What is Kratom?


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report on July 29, 2016 warning that kratom is considered an “emerging drug of abuse” by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Kratom, a natural pain reliever native to Southeast Asia, is unregulated and legal in all but six states in the country. It has been used in Southeast Asia for many years as an anti-diarrheal medicine and as a recreational drug. It is the popular name for the tree in which the drug comes from its leaves.


Desperate to find alternatives to opioids such as prescription painkillers and heroin, or individuals struggling with addiction, many are turning to kratom as a natural opioid substitute. According to the CDC, natural does not mean safe. The plant can cause side effects such as psychosis, seizures, and even death. Although usage of it is still relatively small, calls to poison control around the United States due to the drug rose 10 times between 2010 and 2015.


Kratom is used to treat a wide variety of conditions including fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and even opioid withdrawals. Because the drug is unregulated, it is easily attainable online. It can be brewed, smoked, chewed, or swallowed in capsules. It can have a stimulant effect. There are also some unpleasant side effects to doing kratom, including nausea, rapid heart rate, agitation, and high blood pressure. The effects from the drug begin rather quickly and typically last between five and seven hours.


The drug is legal and unregulated in the United States. There are only six states in which it is banned: Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Indiana. According to Forbes, other countries including Australia and Thailand have also banned kratom. Although the United States government has taken a stance on kratom, some professionals believe there is not enough data to decide whether kratom should be banned or if it has potential medical usage. Even when a drug is known to be addictive and even when it sends people to the emergency room, it takes time to compile all the information that can lead to a legislative ban.
While each drug has different effects, the route to sobriety is much the same. Although kratom is not illegal, that does not mean that it is a safe drug to use or experiment with. If you are concerned that a loved one may be addicted to kratom, reach out to Addiction Intervention Now today at (800) 208-8680.