Kratom: The Newest ‘Miracle Cure’ for Opiate Addiction
Kratom has been a topic of debate for a few years now as its popularity among opiate users has increased as a way to stave off withdrawals. I remember seeing the supplement sold in head shops as early as 2012, so it’s been around for a while although, no one was really talking about it until last year. The State of Florida called for a ban on the herb and required all shops who carried it to pull it off their shelves and stop selling it. This caused a massive uproar of kratom’s biggest fans and the treatment center I work for started getting flooded with calls from people who were now experiencing excruciating withdrawal effects from not having their dose of kratom. Many opiate addicts use it not only as a way to keep from getting sick but also as an addiction recovery tool, switching from the illicit substances they’re taking to kratom, which is a naturally-occurring plant. The question that comes to my mind is whether or not kratom is a good substitute for drug addiction treatment since the plant is being used by some for just that.
Kratom grows in Malaysia and has long been known for its painkilling effects and ability to help those addicted to opiates, according to Darshan Singh Mahinder, a professor at the Centre for Drug Research at the University of Science Malaysia. Kratom hits the same opiate receptors in the brain as traditional opiates and not only can it give temporary relief from dope sickness, but it also has the potential to get you high, just like an opiate.
Some people claim that kratom saved their lives and got them off drugs and completely turned their lives around without needing to go to rehab or get any kind of substance abuse treatment. They took their dose of kratom and that was that. Online forums give glowing reviews of the plant’s ability to help with drug addiction, but this is all purely anecdotal evidence and the fact of the matter is, there hasn’t been much research on kratom’s use and the herb is still largely unregulated within the U.S. People who use kratom have to be very careful about what they’re buying and who they’re buying it from.
The one part that bugs me about kratom is that addicts are using it to get off of opiates just as they would use Suboxone or Methadone. The only kicker is that kratom is natural. If people take kratom, Methadone, or Suboxone as a means of handling their drug withdrawal, then what’s the difference? With replacement therapy drugs, all you do is handle the withdrawal. You can’t stay on them for the rest of your life and when you stop taking either Methadone, Suboxone, or Kratom, you’re going to kick.
So, what’s the point? Kratom cannot take the place of actual drug rehab. By only handling the physical effects of coming off a drug, you’re left with all of the mental and emotional reasons a person uses drugs in the first place. If that’s all you do, it’s unlikely a person will stay sober. Good drug treatment will handle both the physical and emotional sides to addiction, which is imperative if an addict wants to get clean and live a normal life. Kratom is not a substitute for rehab. It never has been and it never will be. It’s just an easy way out of dealing with withdrawal symptoms.