Author: Shernide Delva
Recently, we wrote about how the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made the controversial decision to ban kratom by making it a Schedule I drug. While the ban is set to go into effect by the end of this week, advocates of the herbal supplement refuse to go down without a fight. A bipartisan group of 51 House lawmakers recently joined the chorus of opposition to the DEA’s upcoming ban.
To give a quick overview: Back in late August, the DEA announced it would prohibit kratom due to various reports of health implications associated with the use of the drug. The ban would temporarily add Kratom to the schedule 1 category of narcotics along with substances like Marijuana, heroin, and LSD.
The DEA made it clear the decision was due to kratom’s high potential for abuse and the lack of medical benefit of the drug. However, advocates passionately argue that kratom is useful for drug withdrawal and mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
Therefore, placing kratom in the schedule 1 category would effectively ban it from those who regularly use the drug. Many users find the drug useful in treating, pain, depression, high blood pressure among other ailments.
The ban sparked a broad range of controversy. Now, members of Congress have joined the chorus of opposition. A bipartisan group of 51 House Representatives just signed a letter urging DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg to delay the ban.
“As our nation continues to combat the public health crisis of opioid abuse, the federal government has invested significant resources to develop alternative pain management strategies,” reads the letter.
The letter urged the delay to continue the federally funded study of kratom as a possible treatment option for opioid withdrawal. By placing kratom on the Schedule I category, the letter states it will “put a halt on federally funded research and innovation surrounding the treatment of individuals suffering from opioid and other addictions.”
While kratom is not for everyone, many find it a compelling alternative to prescription drugs. Earlier this month, Susan Ash, founder of the American Kratom Association, revealed that her organization has been receiving thousands of calls from people across the United States concerned about losing kratom and resorting to prescription drugs instead.
“I am completely swamped,” Ash told The Fix. “I have thousands of people afraid of relapse. People are explicitly telling us they are terrified of losing their quality of life or even their lives.”
51 House Representatives Urges Delay On Ban
The House representatives’ letter to the DEA urges them to delay the ban and allow more time to consult with “consumers, researcher, and other stakeholders.” When the ban was initially passed, the DEA did not allow any opposition in regards to their decision to ban kratom.
Instead, the DEA argued their decision was valid by citing a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which stated that kratom poisoning was the cause for 660 calls to poison centers across the country between 2010 and 2015. The DEA argued that these numbers clearly indicated the need for the ban. They also pointed to 16 reported kratom-related deaths between 2014 and 2016 to further justify their decision.
Still, these numbers are far overshadowed by other drugs, both legal and illegal. Those in opposition point to the numbers of calls the poison control center receives over laundry pod poisonings. These calls far surpass the number of calls they receive in regards to kratom. Both the House lawmakers and kratom advocates think it is not a good idea to restrict access to Kratom when so many people are searching for safer pain relief alternatives rather than prescription pills.
“This hasty decision could have serious effects on consumer access and choice of an internationally recognized herbal supplement,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter.
Kratom does have the potential for abuse. However, it does have potential medical benefits. While the use of any drug is not ideal, the reality is harm reduction remains a crucial topic of discussion. Further research is needed before a ban on kratom is made. Do you agree with the ban?
Overall, if you are struggling with any substance abuse, legal or illegal, you need to research out for treatment. We have the tools to help in your recovery. Do not wait. Call today.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Kava bars have become almost as common as coffee shops in South Florida. Now, many are arguing for awareness of the substance’s addictive potential. A recent article explained how the active ingredient Kratom often found in kava and other similar drinks may be responsible for relapses in the South Florida community.
“It’s preying on the weak and the broken,” said Pankova, 23, a Brooklyn native who received treatment in Delray Beach. “It’s a mind-altering substance, so people like me who are addicts and alcoholics, they think just because it’s legal, it’s fine. It’s a huge epidemic down here, and it’s causing a lot of relapses.”
In the article, Pankova goes on to describe how she used kratom based drinks to soothe her brain and body in ways that simulated the effects that narcotics had. She had only been in recovery three months and thought this was a great alternative, until it backfired.
Soon, Pankova became addictive to the substance and started to drink more and more. Her cravings for heroin increased because her body started to crave a stronger high. Eventually she relapsed. Only through another rehab stay did she realize that kratom, the main ingredient she was ingesting, affects the brain like an opiate and can be addictive.
For a while, kratom was used as a natural painkiller and substitute for even more dangerous substances. Kratom is legal however concerns are that people in recovery use the substance as a way out of addiction yet kratom causes the addiction itself. Worse, many experts believe that kratom can lead addicts back to heroin due to it being cheaper and stronger.
Dr. Edward W. Boyer, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and a co-author of several scientific articles on kratom, noted:
“It’s a fascinating drug, but we need to know a lot more about it. Recreationally or to self-treat opioid dependence, beware — potentially you’re at just as much risk”
In South Florida, concern is particularly high. Rising concentrations of drug-treatment in the sunny state has coincided with the sprouting of kratom bars. Powdered forms of the leaf are sold at head-shops, and gas stations.
Because kratom is considered a botanic dietary supplement, the Food and Drug Administration cannot restrict its sale unless it is proven unsafe or if untested claims are made about its medicinal purposes.
While efforts have been made, kratom is still legal in many parts of the country. The FDA did work to ban the import of kratom into the United States in 2014. That year, marshals seized 25,000 pounds of it from a Los Angeles warehouse.
The DEA has listed kratom as a “drug of concern” however it is not listed as a controlled substance. In order for that to happen, there would have to be evidence shown for its health risk and abuse potential. States like Indiana Tennessee, Vermont and Wyoming have banned it on their own. Florida and New Jersey have set similar bills but a full restriction is not underway until more is known about kratom’s health risk.
Kratom has been linked to health conditions like seizures and respiratory depression however deaths related to kratom appear to be rare. The drug has been used in Thailand for its narcotic effects for centuries and many believe the drug can be used for good. Kratom advocates claim that it helps wean them from stronger opiates and can be used in the early withdrawal stages to curb off chronic pain and depression. In addition, the American kratom Association is composed of over 2,000 members that lobby against the state banning the substance.
Still, tensions are high and kratom continues to leave a bad taste in more than those who drink it. Back in 2014, a 20-year-old Boynton Beach man, leapt to his death from the SW 23rd Avenue I-95 over-pass. His mother says he was addicted to kratom which sparked controversy and the future for kratom continues to be put into question as more people become addicted to it.
Overall, while kratom can be beneficial for some, more awareness is needed of the drug’s addictive potential. Whether or not the drug should be banned is still a question that has yet to be answered. The one thing we do know is that kratom is a mind-altering substance so using it is breaking your sobriety. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
First of all, what is Kava?
Kava, or kava kava, is a root found on South Pacific islands. Islanders have used kava as medicine and in ceremonies for centuries.
Kava has a calming effect, producing brain wave changes similar to changes that occur with calming medicines such as diazepam (Valium). Kava also can prevent convulsions and relax muscles. Although kava is not addictive, its effect may decrease with use.
The Kava plant contains a drug which acts as a narcotic, hypnotic, diuretic and muscle relaxant.
There are side effects both short term and long term that are associated with drinking kava.
Short term effects from drinking kava
Contraindicated with the use of anti-depressants and mood stabilizers; affects reaction time and reflexes; temporary yellowing of skin, hair, and nails; possible skin allergic reaction
Long term side effects from drinking kava
Liver problems, shortness of breath, scaly rash, and puffiness/swelling of face
Now, these are things that should be considered when any “normal” person is curious about drinking kava. For those of us in recovery, there is a much bigger question to first answer: is drinking kava in recovery a relapse?
Kava and Recovery
If you follow a 12 Step recovery program, you know that drinking or using any mood- or mind-altering substance is considered to be a relapse. Because kava is, at the very least a mood-altering substance, then it would be breaking one’s sobriety to drink it. Furthermore, because it is something that you can build a tolerance to, I know for me that it wouldn’t be long before I was seeking out my good ol’ drug of choice. I am not willing to take that risk.
Is drinking kava in recovery a relapse: But, kava is natural; it’s from the earth
Yes, yes it is. You know what else is natural? Only marijuana, alcohol (fermented barley and hops – beer; fermented fruit – wine, potatoes – vodka; juniper berries – gin), cocaine, (pure) heroin which is derived from the poppy flower plant and maybe some others I can’t think of right now. So, there goes that argument.
Is drinking kava in recovery a relapse? But, kava is legal
And so is alcohol and, in some states, so is marijuana. But these are two substances that those of us in recovery must avoid if we are to take our sobriety seriously. The legality of a substance has nothing to do with sobriety, case in point: alcohol. Why should kava be any different?
So, is drinking kava in recovery a relapse?
According to the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases, kava abuse is drug abuse, which is “a pattern of psychoactive substance use that causes damage to health.”
I asked wikianswers.com: “does drinking kava kava break sobriety?” The answer is a resolute “yes.” I think the site puts it rather succinctly: “Kava can leave one inebriated. Kava can alter one’s sensation of being. Anything that does these things, if it is ingested on purpose, can be considered a breaking of one’s sobriety.”
If you or someone you know needs treatment for Drug or Alcohol Addiction, please call us at 800-951-6135.