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Change of Plans: DEA Will Not Ban Kratom

Change of Plans: DEA Will Not Ban Kratom

Author: Shernide Delva

Just a little over a month ago, we announced the DEA’s plans to move kratom to the schedule I controlled substances list along with drugs like heroin and marijuana. Surprisingly, those plans have changed.

Today, October 13, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made the official announcement that it would no longer ban the use of kratom. They cited public outrage and the need to obtain more research for the reversal decision. Are you surprised by the DEA’s change of heart?

Background on Planned Rescheduling

Initially, the DEA’s ban would have restricted kratom from the hands of consumers who use the drug on a regular basis.  The decision was a direct response to the amount of kratom-related substance abuse issues reported to the FDA.  The DEA felt there was no medical purpose for the drug, so why allow the drug to remain legal?

However, advocates of kratom argued against the ban stating the benefits of kratom far outweighed the potential risks.  In fact, around the end of September, a bipartisan group of 51 lawmakers joined the chorus of opposition through protesting the ban of kratom to the DEA.

Still, the DEA made it clear the decision was due to kratom’s high potential for abuse and the lack of medical benefits. They even requested the public not argue their decision.

Therefore, when the DEA announced they would not ban kratom, many found the change of heart “shocking.”  John Hudak, who studies drug policy at the Brookings Institution, told the Washington Post. “The DEA is not one to second-guess itself, no matter what the facts are.”

The Public Outcry

When the DEA first announced the reclassification of kratom,  users of the drug were outraged. Many use kratom to overcome drug withdrawals. It also has been shown to help with pain management. Becuase of these purposes, users of the drug feared for their lives.

On September 13, in protest of the ban, members of the American Kratom Association (AKA) and the Botanical Education Alliance (BEA) marched outside the White House to bring attention to the issue.

“This is a very tragic situation,” Susan Ash, founder and director of AKA, told The Fix last month. “The AKA is fielding thousands of calls, Facebook messages, and emails from people all over the country who are afraid of going back to pharmaceutical drugs because they had unbearable negative side effects or illicit drugs which will lead to even more deaths during this opiate epidemic.”

Former drug users and people who have never tried opiates were concerned, she explained.

“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. We’re also fielding messages from people who have never been addicted to anything. They chose kratom as a safer, natural alternative to prescription drugs. These people feel they will no longer be able to be the productive members of society that kratom has enabled them to be.”

The public outcry prompted Congress to weigh in, with 51 members of the House of Representatives asking DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg to delay the ban to allow time to consult with “consumers, researchers, and other stakeholders.”

DEA’s Reversal Decision

Ultimately, the DEA made the decision to delay the ban of kratom. They want time to study the drug for its potential medicinal benefits. While there will be controversy on both sides, kratom is a drug many rely on for medical purposes. The decision will allow time for further testing. It is not clear whether or not the DEA will try to regulate kratom in the future.

While the benefits remain questionable, the reality is many kratom users feared relapse because of the rescheduling of this drug. Prescription drug abuse is such an epidemic right now. Banning a drug that could result in relapse and overdoses is a major concern. What do you think of the ban?

If you are struggling with drug addiction, do not wait until the last second to get help. The best way to overcome an addiction is through proper treatment and care. We can teach you the tools to succeed. Stop trying to overcome this on your own. Call now.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

House Representatives Join Opposition to Delay Ban of Kratom

House Representatives Join Opposition And Urge Delay of Kratom Ban

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

Kratom Will Soon Join Schedule I Controlled Substance List

Kratom Will Soon Join Schedule I Controlled Substance List

Author: Shernide Delva

Just this Tuesday, the Drug Enforcement Administration displayed a notice of intent in the Federal Register to place Kratom on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. In the notice, the DEA says the active components of kratom are an “imminent hazard to the public safety.” As a result, the DEA announced that it would temporary ban the two main chemicals found in kratom.

Beginning September 30, the two main ingredients of kratom (mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine) will classify as Schedule I substances. Kratom will soon join Heroin, Pot, and Cocaine on the Schedule I Controlled Substance List.

What is Kratom?

Kratom is an herbal supplement that many advocates believe to be an effective treatment for chronic pain, depression, and has become a drug many use to relieve themselves of opioid withdrawals. However, the Food and Drug Administration, as well as law enforcement officials and medical professionals, have noted kratom as a potentially harmful substance. Several states have already banned the plant; however regulation proved difficult due to kratom’s status as an herbal supplement.

The announcement occurred on Wednesday and garnered a very controversial response. Some users believe kratom provides a peaceful effect and insist the drug is not addictive. On the other hand, many users found the drug to be very addictive.

Kratom: Conflicting Viewpoints

One woman overjoyed with the news was Lauren Eden who told Channel 9 news that her son killed himself because of his addiction to kratom. Since his death, she fought to make kratom illegal.

“I am so surprised that all of this is happening because I didn’t even know this was in the works,” Eden said. “Maybe our son didn’t die in vain. Maybe our son sacrificed his life for another life.”

Furthermore, The CDC issued a report recently stating that intoxication from kratom was the cause fo more than 600 calls to poison control centers between 2010 and 2014. Still, advocates believe many of these cases were a result of kratom reacting with other illegal drugs.

To put kratom’s risk into perspective, the poison control center received close to 7000 reports of young children ingesting single-load laundry pods in the first seven months of 2016. Advocates say the number of incidents involving kratom is relatively low when comparing these numbers.

The new ruling by the DEA may keep kratom on the Controlled Substances list for up to two years. This is until the Department of Health and Human Services completes its studies on the plant. If findings determine that kratom is a public health threat, the ban would remain.

“I fear for all of the people who found kratom to be a solution for them to get off things like heroin,” said Susan Ash, founder, and director of the American Kratom Association told STAT. “I foresee a large jump in the already epidemic proportions of opiate deaths in this country.”

DEA Argues That Public Comment Is Unnecessary

Whether you an advocate of kratom or not, the DEA released a statement saying that public comment would be unnecessary. In an effort of protecting the public, the DEA feels the ban should go through without public commentary.

“The Administrator finds that there is good cause to forgo the notice and comment requirements of section 553, as any further delays in the process for issuance of temporary scheduling orders would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest.”

Until the ban goes through, Kratom remains legal in Florida, except for in Sarasota County. Therefore, for those who find the drug beneficial, the controversy behind the recent rescheduling heats up before the official ban.

What do you think of the ban? Is the DEA acting in the interest of the public? Regardless, any substance has the potential for abuse. If you are struggling, do not wait. Call toll-free today.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

South Florida’s Kratom Problem

kratom

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.

No More Mr. Nice Guy? The Rise and Fall of One of the Biggest Names in Synthetic Marijuana

No More Mr. Nice Guy? The Rise and Fall of One of the Biggest Names in Synthetic Marijuana

Manufacturers of the once hugely popular Mr. Nice Guy synthetic marijuana product are at it again. And they’re back in the news. Now that synthetic marijuana has officially been made illegal, the company behind Mr. Nice Guy is pushing a new product: this time, it’s a drink by the name of Relaxinol, which claims to relax its users at the end of a hard day’s work.

Despite their past legal troubles, it states on the Mr. Nice Guy website, “We are back and here to stay, you could say with a vengence [sic].”

Back in August of last year, the two men who ran Kratom Lab, based in West Palm Beach, John Shealey, 40, and Dylan Harrison, 32, received reduced prison sentences before a courtroom packed with supporters.

Shealey  was sentenced to 18 months behind bars, while his business partner, Dylan Harrison, received a prison term of a year and a day. Prosecutors had been requesting sentences at least twice as long for both men.

Shealey and Harrison cut deals with federal prosecutors, with each man agreeing to plead guilty to a count of conspiring to break federal laws. They admitted that they plotted to distribute an illegal substance as well as admitting to selling a misbranded drug.

As part of their plea deals, Shealey agreed to pay a $2.2 million, forfeit $745,000 in cash and give up four vehicles he had purchased with profits from the sale of synthetic marijuana: two sports cars and two SUVs. Harrison agreed to forfeit more than $2 million in assets, including the $850,000 Intercoastal Waterway home that he bought outright with cash.

The U.S. Department of Drug Administration estimated that the synthetic marijuana industry had netted about $5 billion in 2011; Mr. Nice Guy being at the forefront of the industry. Federal prosecutors have said Kratom Lab was one of the largest synthetic marijuana operations in the entire country.

Fake pot or “Spice,” such as K2 and Mr. Nice Guy, was responsible for more than 11,000 emergency room visits nationwide in 2010, with users experiencing side effects that included rapid heart rate, nausea, seizures, renal failure and psychotic episodes.

There is great irony in the Mr. Nice Guy story. In one of his court hearings, co-owner Harrison admitted that he had received treatment in the past for heroin and steroid addictions and acknowledged that, “Being a drug addict, I know the pain drugs cause.”

And the other co-owner, Shealey, vowed that he would focus on making the world a better place.

And yet, with their new product, one can only think that they’re at it again. Relaxinol, a product that promises a relaxing effect, contains a laundry list of ingredients that are not subject to FDA approval because it is a so-called dietary supplement, according to FDA.gov.

There is a disclaimer on the Relaxinol can that informs its consumers that the product has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

However, manufacturers of dietary supplements are required by the FDA to apply labels that are truthful and not misleading. In addition, they are required by law to report “all serious adverse event reports” associated with their product to the FDA.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

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