As the opioid epidemic rages on, another drug is coming into the spotlight: kratom. This psychoactive drug has similar effects as opioids such as morphine and heroin, but far less is known about it. It originates from the leaves of the kratom plant, which is grown in Southeast Asia. However, even Thailand, a major producer, has banned its use.
Many people use kratom as a natural pain reliever and mild sedative. Its major component – Mitragyna speciosa – binds to opioid receptors in the brain. While some users experience sedation, euphoria, pain relief, and body highs such as tingling or numbness, others have a far different reaction experiencing agitation, paranoia, anxiety, increased heart rate, and nausea or vomiting. Since so little formal research has been done on kratom, scientists are unsure exactly why some people have negative reactions. They also do not know much about its potency or how much could lead to an overdose.
Kratom falls into a gray area when it comes to regulations. It is recognized as a botanic dietary supplement, so the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has little control over its sale. However, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has deemed it a “drug of concern” and already six states have banned its sale and others are considering taking similar actions. It is unclear exactly what the long-term effects and risks are.
For those in recovery from addiction, kratom may be a trigger for relapse. Due to how it affects the brain, it may stimulate cravings for drugs such as heroin or other opioids. Some people also use it as a replacement for other drugs thinking that it will not be detected by drug screenings; this is not necessarily true as Northbound screens for kratom.
Northbound strongly supports increased research on kratom and its effects and discourages those in active addiction and recovery from using this substance as there are still many unknowns. Anyone struggling with addiction to opioids, kratom, alcohol, or other substances can find the comprehensive treatment they need at Northbound.
What are your thoughts on kratom and how it should be handled in regard to regulations?