For years, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has been actively trying to stop the circulation of kratom, an herb that many mistakenly believe can treat opioid addiction and withdrawal. Moreover, Florida lawmakers have been trying to issue a statewide ban on the substance with little success. As of right now, kratom is still legal everywhere in Florida except for Sarasota County, which successfully enforced a ban. And, unfortunately, finding (and using) kratom in West Palm Beach and the surrounding areas has become all too easy.
What is Kratom?
Mitragyna speciosa, or kratom, is a type of tropical evergreen tree that is native to Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea. Like coffee, kratom is a member of the Rubiaceae family and has stimulating effects. In fact, most people who use kratom utilize its leaves to boost energy and combat fatigue. Those who use kratom usually chew it, smoke it, take it as a capsule, or boil it into tea.
Why Do People Use It?
Kratom has been growing more and more popular in the U.S. over the last few years. In fact, many people have been hailing the substance as an alternative treatment to muscle pain and gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea. Some even boast kratom as an effective means of tapering off of opiates. However, the validity of these claims and the safety of the drug itself have yet to be clinically proven.
The DEA vs. The American Kratom Association
Although there is currently no evidence to suggest that kratom offers any assistance in the opioid addiction recovery process, advocates swear by it. Some have even claimed that the supposed pain-relieving properties of kratom have allowed them to taper off of opioids with little to no withdrawal.
Dave Herman, chairman of The American Kratom Association, insists that the drug is not only safe but life-saving. Moreover, while he openly supports the Food and Drug Administration to “ensure product quality and safety for consumers,” he just as openly distrusts the DEA.
“Under the current Control Substances Act (CSA), the DEA has to conclusively demonstrate that a substance they seek to schedule has to pose an imminent safety threat to the public, and that the substance they seek to schedule is dangerously addictive … If the DEA wants to claim that any natural botanical substance poses a public health safety risk, or is dangerously addictive, they can still use the CSA to do just that. That’s why I do not trust the DEA when it comes to kratom. And neither should you.”—from the desk of David Herman, Chairman of the Board for The American Kratom Association
Concerns from Government Organizations
Based on the DEA’s findings so far, we know that low doses of kratom produce more or less the same stimulant effects as coffee: energy, alertness, talkativeness, and even jitteriness. At high doses, however, kratom is shown to have more sedative effects, which can put users in any number of dangerous situations. Last year alone, the DEA identified 44 deaths associated with the use of kratom and products that contain it.
The DEA is not the only organization concerned with the growing rates of kratom use. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also voiced its concerns about the toxicity and health complications associated with kratom use. In one announcement from November 2017, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb called the use of kratom as a treatment for opioid addiction “very troubling.”
Statements from Scott Gottlieb and The FDA
“It’s very troubling to the FDA that patients believe they can use kratom to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. The FDA is devoted to expanding the development and use of medical therapy to assist in the treatment of opioid use disorder. However, an important part of our commitment to this effort means making sure patients have access to treatments that are proven to be safe and effective. There is no reliable evidence to support the use of kratom as a treatment for opioid use disorder.”—FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, 2017
Gottlieb went on to reiterate his concerns in a press announcement in February 2018.
“We have been especially concerned about the use of kratom to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms, as there is no reliable evidence to support the use of kratom as a treatment for opioid use disorder and significant safety issues exist … [U]nlike kratom, FDA-approved drugs have undergone extensive review for safety and efficacy, and the agency continuously tracks safety data for emerging safety risks that were previously unknown … Further, as the scientific data and adverse event reports have clearly revealed, compounds in kratom make it so it isn’t just a plant – it’s an opioid.”—FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, 2018
The Dangerous Potential Side Effects of Kratom
Right now, kratom is not approved for any kind of medical use. Furthermore, studies have revealed that the drug can cause:
- dry mouth
- stomach upset
- frequent urination
- loss or suppression of appetite
Other more severe side effects of kratom use might include:
- heart problems
- liver dysfunction or disease
The Popularity of Kratom in West Palm Beach
Despite the controversy and potential harm surrounding the use of kratom, the substance is widely available throughout South Florida, especially in West Palm Beach. Head shops, vape shops, and dozens of kava bars offer kratom. And, right now, there is no ban in place to stop them.
Still, kratom may not be available for much longer. The DEA is still working to issue a ban. Plus, with the FDA on their side, they may succeed soon.
Kratom West Palm Beach Detox and Treatment
Detox for a substance like kratom follows more or less the same steps as detox for opioids. With this in mind, it’s essential to seek professional help for kratom dependence.
At Lumiere Treatment Center, our clinical staff will evaluate your condition and prepare a completely personalized treatment plan to ensure the smoothest possible recovery process. For more information about our programs and services, please call us at 855-535-8501.