Opioid Cure Kratom Ruins Lives, Too

A battle is brewing over the botanical substance known as kratom. Users say it’s safer than opiates, while critics call it just as dangerous.”>

One mother says that her son stole $7,000 in checks from his father to fuel his drug addiction, went to rehab, relapsed, and then committed suicide by driving his automobile into an overpass. His last known words: I cant live like this anymore.

A 33 -year-old man took the same drug and had grand mal seizures so powerful he broke the bed straps in the emergency room. He had never had seizures before.

A 61 -year-old woman heard voices while taking the drug and then brought[ her] 6 ft. ladder to[ her] neighbors backyard because she imagined they needed assistance. She fell in the middle of the psychotic episode and fractured her wrist.

The storiesall found in Food and Drug Administration( FDA) case reports obtained by The Daily Beast with personal identifying information redactedarent about heroin. Theyre about kratom, an obscure botanical substance derived from Southeast Asian trees and sold online as a dietary supplement in the United States.

The Drug Enforcement Administration( DEA) could build kratom an illegal Schedule I medication as soon as Fridaythirty days after relevant agencies filed a notice of intent in the federal register. But despite clear evidence of its threats from multiple agencies, vocal fans of the internet-famous plant are up in arms over the impending ban.

Kratom has both stimulant and sedative impacts depending on the dose, according to the DEA. Defenders say that it is a comparatively harmless recreational drug as well as a safer alternative to opioid used only for chronic pain sufferers and opioid addicts. It is the latter narrative that has most captured the imagination of the press this year.

In June, for example, Gizmodo staff writer Bryan Menegus glamorize kratom as the herb of last resort for retrieving junkies, telling the story of an 18 -year-old oxycodone addict who says he used kratom to shake off his painkiller habit and hold down a chore. These kinds of anecdotes often appear in defenses of kratom, which have only been increasing in frequency as the DEA ban depicts near.

Earlier this week, for example, a Vice columnist theorized that the DEA scheduling could make life even more dangerous for U.S. heroin users, based on the debatable notion that kratom helps opioid junkies treat withdrawal. The next day, Scientific American warned that the kratom forbid could cripple promising analgesic research, quoting a mouse survey. And subscribers to the r/ kratom subreddit have been petitioning and calling local DEA offices all week to try to stop the ban. Even 51 each member of Congress asked Obama to intervene on Tuesday, arguing that researchers require more time to investigate the use of kratom as legal remedies for opioid withdrawal.

But so far, federal agencies like the DEA, the FDA, and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention( CDC) are standing by their posture: As beloved as kratom may be online, it merely isnt safe.

Its easy enough to find anecdotes that run counter to the craving recovery narratives that are often found in defenses of kratom. Earlier this year, for example, The New York Times interviewed addicts in South Florida who tried to wean themselves off of other drugs with kratom but ultimately became hooked on the replace, too. One woman, Dariya Pankova, went back to heroin after trying to use kratom to treat her withdrawal symptoms. Another addict, Robert Waina, said he had to go to rehab for kratom three times.

If Im taking it, as far as Im concerned, Im not clean, Waina told the Times.

Scholarly research has also shown that kratom can be addictive. A 2014 survey of 293 regular users in Malaysia published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that over half had developed severe kratom dependency problems. Withdrawal symptoms recorded in the study included muscle spasms and pain, sleeping difficulty, watery eyes/ nose, hot flashes, fever, lessened appetite and diarrhea as well as restlessness, tension, indignation, sadness, and nervousness.

Meanwhile, adverse incidents involving kratom have maintained the drug on the federal governments radar for years. The FDA has had an import alert out on kratom since February 2014 and the DEA has listed it as a drug of fear. The reasons set out above: It can be addictive and potentially dangerous.

In its notice of intent to register kratom as a Schedule I drugwhich means that it has no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abusethe DEA warned that the intake of kratom individually, or in conjunction with alcohol or other narcotics, is of serious concern as it can lead to severe adverse effects and demise. The DEA also said that it was especially concerning that people have been trying to treat heroin withdrawal with kratom.

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