Kratom: A New And Potentially Lethal Drug Trend In Florida

kratom

Kratom is a relatively new and popular drug that has stirred up quite the controversy amongst lawmakers in Florida and other US states due to its potential for physical dependence (addiction). This “healthy and alternative” drug has many reported cases of overdose, which, unfortunately, many have been fatal. Unfortunately, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) does not list kratom as a controlled substance. However, it has been reported that the DEA is seeking to classify it as a Schedule I controlled substance, making it possibly illegal in the very near future.

States that currently list kratom as illegal to use are:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Indiana
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin
  • Washington, DC

Although there are a great many other states that have not outlawed the distribution or use of kratom, it doesn’t make it safe for even recreational use. Like all drugs, kratom has positive and negative effects on the user and because it is not an approved drug by the FDA, it’s potential for dangerous side effects due to improper testing, remains high and is a real cause for concern for anyone who uses it. 

Kratom: What Is It?

Kratom is a Polynesian natural drug that comes from the leaves of Mitragyna speciosa. It is a tree that grows in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and numerous other parts of Southeast Asia. The leaves are a potent part of this tropical plant and can be consumed by either chewing, smoking or using the leaves to brew into tea. Kratom leaves can also be crushed into a powder and put into a pill form for ingestion. 

Kratom: What Is It Used For?

Kratom has polar opposite effects depending on the amount one takes of the substance. In smaller dosage amounts, kratom acts as a stimulant, producing a “high” that is expressed as energetic euphoria, increased alertness, hyperactivity, and talkativeness. In contrast, when you take this substance in higher doses, the drug acts as a sedative and has strong painkilling properties similar to the effects of an opiate with morphine-like effects. 

Kratom usually takes effect between 5 and 10 minutes after consumption. The effects of kratom have been reported as lasting between 2 and 5 hours. Again, due to the lack of proper medical testing, It’s not known exactly what level of kratom consumption it takes to become toxic in people, but as with most other pain relief medications, there is always a risk of a possible overdose no matter the dose or frequency of use. 

Kratom: Using It In Florida

Kratom is legal to possess in Florida and available at local head shops, vape shops, and even in cocktails and juice bars. These bars are popping up in numbers in many south Florida cities like West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, and South Beach, Miami – Florida, just to name a few. The increase in kratom popularity in Florida makes the time now to increase education and awareness of the use of this legal and “natural” drug to ensure the safety of all Floridians. 

Head shops and vape shops in Florida sell kratom in several different forms, however, the most popular is the powder and pill form. Although these shops claim the safety of this substance, there is a higher potential for risk due to the fact that head shops don’t turn over a lot of kratom inventory; which leaves what is on the shelves often old and possibly a decrease in potency which could lead to an overdose by taking too much attempting to achieve the “high” according to the recommended dosage. 

Cocktail bars and juice bars in Florida sell kratom in several different forms as well. Usually, it is sold as a tea, juice or even mixed with an alcoholic beverage but other options are available depending on the type of bar. These bars also will sell kratom in powder form which allows the user to adjust their dosage and making it an even greater potential health risk. When a substance as strong as kratom is not properly regulated, physical dependance becomes a real risk and something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Kratom: What Are The Possible Side Effects?

Since kratom is not an approved FDA drug, there has been little testing done on the effects of its use. We do know that kratom has a number of reported negative side effects. 

Kratom possible side effects include (but are not limited to):

  • Drowsiness
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • Delusions
  • Dry mouth
  • Hallucinations
  • Chills
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Changes in urine 
  • Dizziness
  • Breathing suppression
  • Coma
  • Constipation
  • Seizure
  • Liver damage
  • Muscle pain

Although these negative symptoms aren’t always reported with recreational kratom use, some users will find the effects more unpleasant than others and will want to “come down” from their “high”. 

Ways to help you “come down” from kratom are:

  • Hydrate; drink lots of water
  • Rest or sleep
  • Sniffing black pepper to decrease sedation effects

As with any drug or substance, if you start to experience unpleasant and severe side effects while using kratom, contact your local authority and seek immediate medical attention.

Kratom: It Can Kill You

In 2018, the FDA reported 44 deaths across the United States associated with the use of kratom. So far in 2019, new research was provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and found that within an 18 month period, 91 people within the United States had lost their lives to fatal overdoses where kratom was a contributing factor.

The report further goes on to reveal that besides the 91 deaths in which kratom was at least a contributing factor, 61 other victims of a fatal drug overdose were found to have kratom in their systems according to the CDC. 

Although kratom was only involved in less than 1% of the more than 27,000 reported fatal overdoses, the increase in victim fatalities since 2018, shows the popularity of this drug in Florida and the potential health risk this substance presents on our citizens.

However, The American Kratom Association disagrees with the opinion that kratom is a potentially deadly substance. The association says that a number of the cases included in the FDA’s list of 44 kratom associated deaths in 2018, there were other factors that were involved in those fatalities and called into question the CDC and its reports findings. Regardless of the opposing opinions, kratom is a drug and should be regulated and used with care.

Kratom: Will You Withdrawal Or Need Detox?

Whether or not you will have withdrawal symptoms or if you need medical detox from kratom consumption, depends on the length of use or abuse of the substance on the individual. People react differently to different types of drugs and substances, and with the increase in popularity to prescription medication, one never knows how the body will react with other medications or substances, even things as simple as a vitamin.

Although kratom only accounted for just under 1% of fatal overdoses deaths in the report done by the CDC on the 18-month study, is that almost 80% of people who died with kratom in their system, there was a medical history of substance misuse or abuse. For instance, 65% of people who died of overdoses where kratom was found in their systems, had also taken opioid fentanyl, whereas heroin was involved in 33% of these deadly cases.according to the CDC.

Since kratom is so widely used alongside other dangerous drugs and substances, kratom doesn’t have to be the drug of choice to warrant a short inpatient stay or even an outpatient medical detox program. Medical detox programs exist to assist people who find themselves physically addicted to drugs and help to make the process of withdrawal comfortably and with less pain. The State of Florida houses more detox and addiction treatment centers than any other “party” state within the United States. 

Coastal Detox: Helping You Detox From Kratom And Other Substances

If you need medical detox from the use of kratom or other substances, contact Coastal Detox – located in beautiful Stuart, Florida. Their addiction treatment programs consist of professionals that are eager to help you detox safely and comfortably from any and ALL substances. If further addiction treatment is necessary, Coastal Detox will help you find the right type of treatment program you need in order to give sobriety and improved mental health a real fighting chance. 

Sometimes people avoid seeking a medical detox or addiction treatment because they fear they can’t afford it. Thankfully, Coastal Detox provides professionals who assist you with each and every process of detox and addiction treatment including helping you get approval from your insurance company for the detox program(s). 

Seeking help from addiction can be hard and scary, but you can’t be afraid to ask for help! It’s painful enough to deal with addiction, you don’t have to deal with the pain of detox or have to withdrawal alone. For more information on how Coastal Detox can help you detox from kratom and other substances, please call (877) 406-6623 today.

References:

https://www.drugrehab.com/addiction/drugs/kratom/

https://kratomspot.com/should-you-buy-kratom-from-a-headshop/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/kratom/art-20402171

https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2019-04-11/americans-are-dying-from-kratom-overdoses-cdc

 

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.