Kratom Used as Alternative to Heroin, But Can Lead to Addiction: Experts

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The drug kratom is being used by some people as an alternative to heroin and other illegal drugs even though it, too, can be addictive, The New York Times reports.

Kratom is increasingly popular and easily available, the article notes. Some people using kratom go back to using heroin, which is stronger and less expensive. Powdered forms of kratom, which come from a leaf found in Southeast Asia, are sold in head shops, gas station convenience stores and online.

The drug is categorized as a botanic dietary supplement. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot restrict the sale of kratom unless it is proved unsafe, or manufacturers claim it treats a medical condition. The FDA banned the import of kratom into the United States in 2014.

Kratom is not controlled under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has listed kratom as a “drug and chemical of concern,” and notes on its website that there is no legitimate medical use for kratom in the United States.

According to the DEA, at low doses, kratom produces stimulant effects with users reporting increased alertness, physical energy, and talkativeness. At high doses, users experience sedative effects.

Indiana, Tennessee, Vermont and Wyoming have banned kratom. The Army has forbidden its use by soldiers, according to the newspaper.

“It’s a fascinating drug, but we need to know a lot more about it,” said Dr. Edward W. Boyer, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, who has studied kratom. “Recreationally or to self-treat opioid dependence, beware — potentially you’re at just as much risk” as with an opiate, he said.

Kratom bars have opened in South Florida, as well as Colorado, New York and North Carolina. The bars sell brewed varieties of kratom, in plastic bottles that look like fruit juice.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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    jeremiah

    October 25, 2016 at 4:44 PM

    Just want to say that I have been taking kratom for a yr now and the only bad side effect I get once in a while is constipation. I am an opiate addict for 13 yrs. I had been taking 2 mg of suboxone for 4 yrs and one day just got tired of looking for it on the street. Kratom has has literally changed my life. I get up in the morning and take 1 teaspoon for anxiety. It doesn’t get me high or make me hallucinate it makes me feel normal. It took the place of my suboxone. Why would I pay $40 for a suboxone that will only last me 4 days when I can spend $40 on enough kratom to get me through the month. Only an addict knows what its like to be sick from opiate withdrawal. It sucks. Kratom takes care of the withdrawal. People who don’t know the whole story about kratom should not just assume its a bad drug. Its natural herb and saved my life.

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    Luv714

    February 12, 2016 at 9:48 PM

    MJB I’m kinda surprized that none of your colleagues [or even much more-so your patients] have heard of Kratom. I’ve only recently discovered it myself, but by recently- I mean about four/five years ago. I’ve heard 99% good and the bad has only been nausea [& that’s from going overboard]. Granted there are no long-term studies or even long-term information / testing. So that means no one knows anything of real serious study. However, workers in Thailand been chomping on it for hundreds of years & there is no glaringly obvious probs… In all this time, I’ve never actually tried it myself but am planning to actually try some myself in the next few days. After listening to 2nd hand stories for years now. I’ve actually ordered & am waiting on delivery now so … if anyone is interested, I’ll be more than happy to come back and report on my experience with it. I’ll check back.

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    Carlos

    February 3, 2016 at 12:17 AM

    Fancy, me neither I have not heard about it as a drug or diatery supplement. This ought to be described somewhere in the net.

    Just by this article I can see numerous possibilities. And living in South Florida where there are supposed to be bar that caters this

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    MJB

    January 26, 2016 at 12:20 AM

    How strange is this? I am a Behavioral Health Supervisor in a very well-respected multi-MMTP agency, that’s been around since the very beginning of treatment for opioid dependence, the early 70s. We are also on the cutting edge of research – one of the only, if not the only, MMTP that actively does research on a number of health-related topics. How is it possible that not one of my colleagues, knowledgeable specialists all, have never heard of this drug???
    Why haven’t one of my 320 plus expert patients brought this to my attention, the way that they done with K2, Spice or any of those other mood-altering substances.

    Starting as soon as I arrive at my clinic at 7 a.m. tomorrow morning and swipe in, the first question I will be asking of my staff and patients is “Have you heard of this drug called Kratom?? I’ll try to come back with my unscientific poll. Wish me luck!

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    Floyd Frantz

    January 7, 2016 at 2:11 PM

    It’s just one more pill in the medicine chest….take this for that, and that for this….it won’t make you high but you’ll feel better if you take….and we all need to feel better….good is not good enough, and bad is relative…and besides, everyone is doing it….if not with drugs then with food, or sex, or work, or money, or religion, or whatever….and I really don’t think that we will ever learn just to be happy with the way God made us…forgive for using the pronoun “we” in this posting, I am sure that it does not include us…love to all.

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