As the substance use disorder epidemic continues to run rampant through the United States, many new substances are being introduced to the public through the guise of legal substances that are sold in tobacco stores or smoke shops. As these substances continue to appear, the government and law enforcement continue to evolve legislation to protect citizens from these potentially addicting and fatal creations. One of the most common of these new substances is kratom.
What Is Kratom?
Kratom is a tropical plant that is part of the coffee family. Considered a herbal supplement by many, kratom can be found in the United States in a variety of forms including powder, capsules, liquids, tablets, gum and, most commonly, dried leaves that can be ingested through tea.
Kratom has been described as mimicking the effects of opioids for people who use the drug. There are many testimonies from people who use kratom of the numerous benefits of the described herbal supplement compared to a regimen of prescription medications and opioids. Some have cited kratom as a way to get off of opioid-based pain medication and be able to live a better quality of life. Kratom poses the potential for kratom addiction just as the regular use of opioids poses the risk of opioid addiction.
There are constant debates and conversations surrounding the legality of kratom and where this substance falls in the spectrum with other illicit narcotics. As of 2018, there was no national regulation on Kratom. However, certain areas in the United States have banned the substance, including Washington, D.C, Indiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Wisconsin and Vermont.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, or the DEA, has discussed classifying kratom as a Schedule I drug. A Schedule I drug is defined by the DEA as “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”. Under the Controlled Substances Act, the Drug Enforcement Agency is able to put certain active ingredients in Kratom under a temporary Schedule I classification to prevent a public health crisis.
Some might think that the link between this herbal drug and a public health crisis is a stretch, but the government certainly does not find that to be the case. The Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA, stated last year that there have been 36 deaths related to kratom use and that the substance has deadly risks associated with its ingestion. When looking at the total deaths per year in the nation, 36 deaths can seem negligible. However, it is important to consider when evaluating what sustained and chronic use of a fairly new-to-market substance like kratom could become.
The legality of kratom is hazy, but the dangers associated with this herbal supplement or real. There are many other alternative ways to find relief from chronic pain than to settle for unregulated treatments. Contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield to find out how you can manage pain safely and other resources to fight against substance use disorders.