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Legal and Lethal: Kratom

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Many substances can be addictive, from illicit drugs like heroin or cocaine to legal substances like sugar or caffeine. Kratom is a substance that is growing more popular throughout Florida. Though it’s billed as a supplement, it affects the body in similar ways as heroin. Does that make it a drug?
What Is Kratom?
Kratom is produced from the leaves of a tropical, deciduous tree found in Southeast Asia. The leaves of this tree contain a mind-altering chemical called mitragynine that acts like an opioid. An opioid interacts with the reward centers of the brain and can influence your pleasure and pain receptors. Kratom can be an aphrodisiac, a mood booster or even a pain reliever.

The effects of kratom are varied, depending on the dose you take. Though it is often billed as a sedative, low doses act more like a stimulant. With larger doses, euphoria, pain relief and sedation may occur. Other side effects of using kratom consistently may include sun sensitivity, hallucination or paranoia.

How Is Kratom Used?
Because mitragynine is found in the leaves, common forms of kratom are fresh or dried leaves, powder or a liquid form. The leaves can be chewed directly, mixed with other food or brewed into a tea. Many bars in Florida have started selling kratom in glass bottles, like other teas. Some people may even snort the powder.

Kratom is considered a supplement and therefore isn’t held to the same strict regulation other legal opioids, like morphine, are. Few studies on kratom and its effects exist, though it is beginning to generate more interest.

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There are some who believe it can be used to treat heroin addiction. Because it requires a larger dose of kratom to achieve the same euphoric effects as heroin, they believe it may not be as addictive and therefore may be beneficial for managing withdrawal symptoms. However, no concrete studies have been performed to verify this use.
You’re Addicted to Kratom, What Now?
Kratom is still an opioid, and as such, may be addictive. It’s important to recognize the dangers of overuse and the symptoms of withdrawal.

When you try to stop taking kratom, do your muscles ache? Are you irritable? Do you struggle with insomnia? These symptoms may be your body suffering from withdrawal. Kratom interacts with and stimulates the opioid receptors in your brain. Though it may not be as potent as heroin, repeated use can create dependence. When it is suddenly absent, your body reacts by going into withdrawal.

Like any other addiction, treatment begins with a complete detox. Before you can move beyond the psychological effects of kratom, you must overcome the physical symptoms. After detox, you may need to participate in an outpatient treatment program to help prevent relapse. If your addiction to kratom is severe, you may need more intensive treatment at a residential facility.

Though kratom may be billed as a supplement, its health effects are nebulous at best and harmful at worst. Because it is binds with opioid receptors in the brain, the possibility for addiction exists and should be considered before use. If you are struggling to stop using kratom, treatment can help you overcome your dependence and find a way to better health.

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