“There’s a general feeling, I think, that this (kratom) is a natural substance, so it’s safe. But we need to get across there are risks with this. If use continues to grow, we’re going to see these problems because it is a real potent substance.”
~ Henry Spiller, Director, Central Ohio Poison Center
According to a brand-new study just released in mid-February, the number of kratom poisonings in the United States has increased dramatically within the past few years. In fact, calls to poison centers calls have skyrocketed more than 50-fold since 2011.
This dramatic has experts concerned, prompting a call for greater scrutiny and regulation.
What is Kratom?
In its natural form, kratom is a plant native to Southeast Asia. There, it has been used for centuries as a traditional herbal medicine for such ailments as diarrhea, cough, pain, and fatigue. More recently, it is kratom tea has been used to treat symptoms of opioid withdrawal.
Here in the United States, however, it is typically sold as an herbal supplement that is supposedly the safer and legal alternative to both opioids and methamphetamine.
Kratom: The Statistics You Need to Know
The American Kratom Association has released the following numbers:
- There are between 3 and 5 million kratom users in the United States.
- 71% of kratom users are adult males.
- The average age is 31 years old.
- 89% of users are age 20 or older.
- Between 2011 and 2017, there were 1807 kratom exposures.
- 32% of those exposures resulted in hospital admission.
- 52% resulted in a “serious medical outcome”. This includes:
- Respiratory depression and arrest
- Renal failure
- Cardiac arrest
- Roughly 75% of exposure cases resulted from intentional use.
- Significantly, about 10% of cases were attempted suicides.
Why are Kratom Overdoses on the Rise?
“There is no reliable evidence to support the use of kratom as treatment for opioid use disorder.”
~ Dr. Scott Gottlieb, M.D., FDA Commissioner
Director Spiller, who led the study, says that greater use is the reason for the increase in kratom poisonings. The supplement is growing in popularity as a supposedly-safer way to minimize opioid withdrawal symptoms.
But the FDA says that kratom carries risks that are similar to those associated with opioids—abuse, addiction, overdose, and in some cases, death. In fact, the FDA has recommended that kratom be classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. This would put it at the same level as other illicit drugs without legitimate medical applications, such as heroin or methamphetamine.
So far, however, the Drug Enforcement Administration has not made that move. Currently, that decision is still in the public comment phase. But because the FDA has no approved it for any legitimate medical uses, the DEA has listed kratom as a “Drug and Chemical of Concern”.
What Does this Mean for Residents of Southern california?
The first take away from this information is that trendy herbal supplements are not a viable alternative to evidence-based treatment for opioid addiction. In other words, if you need help, trust trained medical and addiction recovery specialists, not the guy behind the counter at the convenience store.
Second, these products are not currently regulated. And if you take them, that puts YOU at risk. For example, a 2017 salmonella case in nearby San Diego County was linked to kratom use.
Finally, despite being marketed as “safe”, kratom is a dangerous DRUG that can be just as dangerous as other substances. It is not harmless.
So if you need help because you are abusing prescription painkillers, heroin, kratom, or any other drug, your best local option is Chapman House Treatment Centers. As one of the top drug treatment programs in Orange County, Chapman House can help you SAFELY regain your complete sobriety and your optimal mental health.
Contact Chapman House Today to get more information about taking the first steps on your own personal sober journey.