Why Kava and Kratom Aren’t Okay in Sobriety

kratom in recovery from addiction

With global warming on the rise, it seems that every passing year brings a little more heat our way. I mean for those of us living in South Florida- we’re all melting our butts off as summer continually descends us into deeper layers of Dante’s Inferno. Having your clothing always damp in sweat becomes the norm, but I digress. The point being is that with climbing temperatures, it’s important to stay hydrated all the time. H20 right? Or maybe you’re Henry Winkler and “Water sucks, it really really sucks” because “Gatoraaaddde’s better.” I’ll bet you cracked a smile at how cheesy that was. Whatever tasty beverage you do decide to sip from, make sure Kava and Kratom stay off of that list if you want to maintain your sobriety. Kava and Kratom are two natural herbs, more or less, and they are sweeping the nation as healthier alternatives to get high off of.

Kava and Kratom are indeed different herbs and have some different effects, but at the end of the day, they both can be used for many of the same purposes such as numbing away and feeling a bit euphoric. They are both indigenous to different locations of the world with Kava generally being found in the Western Pacific- such as Micronesia, Fiji, or Hawaii even. Kratom, on the other hand, originates from Southeast Asia from countries like Thailand, Indonesia, or Malaysia. Kava and Kratom are used and abused in their natural state as the leaves and roots that came from the ground. They are also transformed into powders, pill forms, and most commonly into a drink as mentioned previously.

Floating Down the Mainstream

Kava and Kratom are both under criticism and skepticism from the sober communities around the world. They both have become widely abused by stressed out people trying to take the load off, especially addicts and alcoholics of that caliber. The effects of the two euphoria delivering aromatic plants include reducing stress, anxiety, and/or pain. They also tend to promote physical and emotional relaxation. With that list of wonderful promises, why wouldn’t you want to take some Kava or Kratom? Plenty of reasons.

For starters, although the two are very similar, they do have some key differences to note. Kratom, specifically, is physically and psychologically addictive and Kava is reported to not be. Taking enough Kratom on a consistent basis will do what most other drugs do and have the body become tolerant to it. As tolerance begins to rise- well, I hope anybody who’s reading this knows how that plays out. It starts taking more and more for that old effect that this simple herb used to produce and then BOOM, we find ourselves right back in the limbo of addiction and alcoholic thinking. It might sound silly and far-fetched, but these fake excuses for drugs will still take even the strongest of addicts and alcoholics down if we allow it. Not to mention, because of the scrutiny Kratom has fallen under in recent years, it is under review because of its pharmaceutical mirroring. With enough people becoming dependent and showing similar signs to that of opiate withdrawals, the United States government and Food and Drug Administration are looking at doing away with it all together. Making it an illegal substance could help eliminate some of the problems being created from this over glorified and rationalized plant.

ground kava root

 

As addicts and alcoholics, we’ll let even a washcloth and a bottle of lemon pledge help us get high if we stub our toe on the right piece of furniture and decide to give up. Maybe that’s just me… Regardless, we like to latch onto anything that makes us feel good. It’s what we do and it’s just in our blood. Anything that takes away from all our “painful realities” and whatever else we’ve exaggerated and conjured up for making an excuse to take something like Kava and Kratom. Cross addiction is absolutely a real thing and has taken many well respected people out of the rooms of Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous and put them into a box 6 feet deep in the ground. That’s heavy, I know- but it’s real. It’s the same as having a beer. It doesn’t matter whether it’s legal or not, drinking these herbal remedies will open up a can of monsters upstairs between your ears.

We have to really step back and look at our truest of intentions. If maintaining sobriety and working programs of recovery are things that are on the front burners of your stove, then that’s fantastic. Heed to the advice and stay away from Kava and Kratom. If living clean and sober is not the priority, by all means go chug away. Just because an addict like myself can’t drink the stuff and walk away at the end of the day, doesn’t mean other normal people out there can’t. As addicts and alcoholics, it is important to always realize that going back to our old manner of thinking can be detrimental to our health. Justifying that we need something to take the “edge off” because life is catching up to us is not a great idea particularly. It goes back to Step 1 and realizing that we as addicts and alcoholics are powerless to drugs and alcohol. This includes mood altering substances of all shapes and sizes, or forms and colors. For people like myself that came back from the literal sidelines of death, the big question of “why even risk it” skips on a broken record player in my head when the idea of these two herbs comes into conversation.

One thing that is important to remember is that many substances fall into sort of a gray area when it comes to recovery. Especially today, there are more substances available now than ever that aren’t necessarily classified as a drug the same way that opioids or amphetamines would be. This is why it’s still largely debated whether or not using these substances is okay. While it’s extremely dangerous for some people to even dabble with substances like kava or kratom, it’s basically nothing to another recovering addict.

However, just because they feel like they’re okay using it, should they continue to do so regularly? There’s always a risk that comes into play, and while only you can truly know yourself best, sometimes it’s the most wise decision to just not take that risk at all. Recovering addicts face a battle each day, and if there’s any way to make that battle even a little bit easier, why not do it? Why not just pass on using a substance that could potentially throw you off course?

Many people are mistaken by thinking that using kava or kratom is a good way to help resist cravings when in fact, using these substances can actually perpetuate cravings and make them worse. It’s important to recognize that just because these substances may not seem as powerful as alcohol, opioids, or other drugs, they still have a mind altering effect.

What exactly is a mind altering substance? A mind altering, or psychoactive substance, is any chemical substance that alters brain function in various ways. Changes in brain function caused by mind altering substances may affect your perception, mood, cognitive function, behavior, and emotions. If you’re a recovering addict, you should know that almost every program out there will advise you to avoid using any kind of mind altering substance.

Sneaky Sneaky

Unforeseen demons like Kava and Kratom appear in our lives and really put us to the test. These sneaky little temptations can grab us by the ankles, flip us upside down, and ask for our lunch money before we even know what happened to us. Addiction and alcoholism never go away and forge a battle that takes time and help from others. However, you don’t have to fight the battle alone. With the proper treatment, counseling, and support, the battle can be made much less burdensome and difficult.

Detox is the first and most important step you can take when deciding to become clean from any substance. In detox you can expect to have a team of medical professionals closely supervising you as you withdraw from whatever substance you are trying to quit. Don’t try to do this on your own, and especially don’t try to do it by seeking alternate highs through kava or kratom. Detox may not sound like the most favorable option, but ultimately, it is the only and best one. You will be so much more free and relieved once you’re finished with your detox.

After detox, you still may be tempted to use substances and may think that kava or kratom are okay substances to use. As soon as these feelings emerge, reach out to someone for support. We advise that you continue to seek treatment by going to rehab and getting involved in a support group. We also recommend sticking close to people you can trust for support. You will never be invincible, unfortunately. Not only as recovering addicts, but as humans, we are always vulnerable to temptation, which is why having a strong support system is so important.

If you or a loved one has been struggling with getting a firm grasp on sobriety and need a detox facility, please call 1-866-802-6848 or visit www.coastaldetox.com. Our teams of specialists are waiting by to help figure out what options are best for sending your life is a comfortable direction that you can proudly stand behind. Our team of qualified experts are ready to walk you through the detox process today.

Content Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.