Recovery and sobriety. Two simple words that are incredibly loaded, and not at all simple. For many, something that takes the place of a dangerous addiction is key to recovery and sobriety. Maybe that something is temporary relief from symptoms – a medication that is formulated to help an addict get through withdrawals, perhaps. Or maybe it’s a permanent replacement for learned behavior – gum instead of cigarettes, for example. Whatever it might be, and for whatever reason, these sorts of coping skills help immensely.
But, then some become problems themselves.
Take, for example, Kratom.
Opioids are the top of many a news article lately, for good reason too. This country is in the midst of a devastating opioid crisis. It is exceptionally hard to break an opioid habit once it has formed. But, thankfully, there are some very helpful therapeutic and medical pieces available for an opioid addict. And, unfortunately, there are some not at all helpful substitutes as well. Kratom is one of the latter, apparently.
Which is a problem.
Kratom is easily accessible, one can even get it from vending machines. The same stores that sell CBD products and (in some places) legal marijuana products also sell Kratom. In fact, entire brands have formed that revolve solely around the sale of Kratom, many of these brands have atmospheres of wholesome, helpful, organic boutiques. It’s available over the counter at some pharmacies and specialty shops, via the internet, and much more.
So, what exactly is Kratom?
Mitragyna speciosa, AKA Kratom tree, is a tropical evergreen tree in the coffee family native to Southeast Asia. It is indigenous to Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea, where its leaves have been used in traditional medicines since at least the nineteenth century. The leaves of this tree contain compounds that can have mind-altering affects.
Most of the time, people take Kratom in pill form. Sometimes it is consumed in a tea, or by simply chewing the leaves of the plant.
Kratom has earned a reputation as a natural alternative to pharmaceutical opioids. It is said that Kratom will help with the withdrawal symptoms when coming off of opioids because the effects of Kratom are very akin to an opioid high, without all of the health side effects of traditional opioids.
While Kratom use has been a thing for a very long time, science has only recently begun to study its effects on the human body. Research is beginning to point to the fact that some of the parallels between Kratom and opioids go beyond the high that it gives.
Side effects of Kratom include nausea, itching, sweating, dry mouth, constipation, increased urination, loss of appetite, seizures, and hallucinations. There is evidence that the body has trouble absorbing the compounds associated with Kratom’s high and that those compounds can build to a level that is fatal.
Kratom’s advocates abound. Some say that small doses of the substance have set them free from crippling anxiety, depression, pain, and more.
The fact of the matter is that there is still too little science to completely understand what Kratom is, on a whole, to a human body. Evidence of addiction to Kratom has begun to seep in, and worsening health issues as well.
Reading through online testimonials and reviews from users, there is no doubt that Kratom has been beneficial to many. But at what cost? And what if those benefits begin to wane? Does that mean users must increase their dose to maintain the benefit? If so, how is that any different from an opioid addiction?
Recovery and sobriety. Two intense phases of an addict’s life. Phases that must be traversed with extreme care. If you’re tempted to try Kratom to help with an opioid addiction, do your homework. Ask your network, consult your doctor, and – when going through detox and rehab – chat with your medical and therapeutic teams. None of these people want to see you fail.
Trading one dangerous habit for another isn’t success. Is that what Kratom ultimately is? Time, and science, will certainly tell. Until then, you need to make the choice. What will benefit you the most in your long term goals for sobriety?