Starting September 30th Kratom is going to be considered a Schedule 1 drug, putting it in the same category as Heroin, LSD, and MDMA. Schedule 1 drugs are substances that are considered to have no accepted medical usage and a high potential for abuse. They are considered by most to be highly addictive and once addicted some of the hardest drugs to quit using. Needless to say, this ruling is fairly controversial and has been met with both outrage and approval.
The drug in question, Kratom, is a naturally occurring plant that grows in Southeast Asia and belongs to the same family as coffee plants. It has been used for hundreds of years in the area as a natural remedy for a number of different ailments, but most recently has garnered attention because of the spike in its recreational usage due to the plant producing opiate-like euphoric highs.
Not much is known about the long-term effects of the drugs because there have been no scientific studies performed on how the plant affects humans and so the majority of what we know is circumstantial, based on reports from users of the substance and those that are familiar with it.
Proponents of the drug’s usage say that the plant can help with depression, pain relief, anxiety and a number of other ailments that plague a large part of the population. These people feel that the plant is safe to use and the DEA’s attempt to outlaw it is just another misstep in the failing War on Drugs. They believe that the drug is being lumped in with the large push by the DEA to outlaw synthetic drugs in the US and that Kratom should not be placed in this same category.
Once Kratom is outlawed it will go the way of other illicit drugs and those who are currently taking it will have to resort to getting the plant from drug dealers, putting them at odds with the law. As it stands right now the plant can be purchased online or in certain head shops and those that are against the scheduling of Kratom feel that creating a black market for the drug will do nothing but cause more damage than good.
Those who side with the DEA in this argument believe that Kratom should be scheduled because it is an addictive substance that up to now had little to no regulation. Granted US Customs was recently allowed to start seizing shipments of the drug, but besides that there was no deterrent.
For what it is worth I side with scheduling the drug and this is because of what I have personally seen develop as a result of the how easily the drug can be obtained. The people that I have personally known who used the drug did so because they were chasing the same high that they used to get from heroin or other opiates but they did not want to make the leap back to abusing these drugs. They saw Kratom as a safer alternative to achieve the same results, but the physical and mental deterioration that I witnessed was similar to that of opiates. One friend, in particular, lost a tremendous amount of weight looked sickly and was depressed on a level that I had never seen him before. It wasn’t until he stopped using Kratom and started to look like his normal self again that I realized how profound the effects of the drug were.
The people that I know who abused the drug and finally got off described a pretty terrible withdrawal, not equivalent to opiates, but similar. And many of these people that I know who used the plant were formerly in recovery. They saw the drug as a mental bridge between relapse and sobriety since it was legal and not much was known about they felt that they could take it with impunity. This is not to say that these people would not have abused other drugs later on, but the fact that Kratom was so readily available, definitely made the choice easier.
Another reason why I feel that the scheduling of Kratom is a positive thing is because the popularity of the drug is centered in South Florida, the rehab capital of the country. This, while only my opinion, seems to suggest that the people that are using the drug most prevalently are people with drug addictions. This may sound like I’m jumping to conclusions here, but anyone who has ever spent time in South Florida will probably back me up on this.
There is a reason why Flakka, Bath Salts, and other such drugs found such a high concentration of usage in South Florida and that is because of the amount of treatment centers, halfway and other such facilities in the general area. This means that the amount of addicted people in South Florida is higher than in other parts of the country. So since Kratom usage is so popular in South Florida it would seem to suggest that the people that are using this drug are doing so because they are attempting to recreationally get high and not because of any inherent medicinal qualities of the plant.
Regardless of where you fall on the argument of Kratom, something should be done about it in this country. Maybe making it a Schedule 1 drug will do more harm than good and maybe it will push Kratom users back to other opiates, but there is a possibility that drying up the supply will allow people to attempt to get sober. Drug Policy is a confusing and emotionally charged topic of conversation in this country and what exactly needs to happen is not entirely clear, but since the best option that we currently have is to regulate, I believe that is what we should do. Time will tell whether the DEA’s decision is successful or not, but until then I am pleased with the decision to take this drug off-market. Though as with all other drugs it may just make the situation worse by outlawing it you encourage illegal behavior. One thing I do know is that anyone who has ever struggled with addiction should in my experience steer clear of Kratom due to the similarities it has with opiates.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.