While many opioid drugs and non-opioid drugs alike are justifiably illegal if taken unprescribed by a medical professional, there are other legal substances, such as Kratom, that produce similar effects when consumed. These effects can sometimes prove beneficial when tapering people off of harsher drugs (i.e. heroin use), but they can also be harmful if the person taking them is left unsupervised.

What is Kratom?

Kratom is a tropical evergreen plant located in Southeast Asia. The drug that comes from its leaves is relatively new to western civilization, though it has been used for generations in Asia as a means to treat diarrhea. Kratom also goes by other names, such as Baik, Ketum, and Thom.

Kratom: An Opioid Without the Designation

Currently, Kratom is not considered an illegal opioid drug, but it does contain opioid compounds. This means that it affects the body’s opioid receptors when consumed, a fact that has the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) worried because of how likely addiction can be.

In small doses, much like other opioid drugs, Kratom can be a highly effective way to increase energy (the tropical kratom tree is a close relative of the coffee tree). It can also help individuals who suffer from muscle pain, cramps, and diarrhea. But just like any other opioid-related substance use, too much of a good thing often results in severe consequences, and it is very easy for users to cross that dangerous threshold.

Why is Kratom Legal?

The side-effects that come with taking Kratom can include (but are not limited to):

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis

Kratom has also been the catalyst for many emergency room visits and calls to poison control centers over the years, proving that the dangers of Kratom are real. In fact, the FDA recently stated that there have been 36 deaths linked to the ingestion of Kratom. So, why is the drug still legal?

For one, Kratom is not legal throughout the entire United States. Certain areas (Washington, D.C, Indiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Wisconsin, and Vermont) have already banned the substance, and the number of states outlawing Kratom is sure to rise. That said, it can be difficult for states to pass legislative bans on drugs before enough scientific evidence and information have been compiled to present a definitive case.

Should Opioid Users Consume Kratom?

The only time a person should consider using Kratom is when they are addicted to a more potent opioid, like fentanyl, and want to get clean. In that case, Kratom can be used to help wean individuals off of other dangerous drugs, and it should only be done with the assistance of a medical doctor or professional.

In other cases, it is best to stay away from drugs like Kratom. While it may be legal in many regions of the country, it is not particularly safe, and if you do end up developing an addiction to Kratom, the withdrawal process is very similar to that of other opioids. Symptoms users typically experience when coming off Kratom can include:

  • Tremors
  • Severe depression
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Panic
  • Pain

 

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