If you’ve visited any herbal shop in South Florida- and in some cases our gas stations– you may have seen the herbal remedy Kratom; supposed to allay depression, offer augmented stimulation similar to caffeine, and nights of prolonged intimacy, Kratom possession and use may be a misdemeanor in the near future if HB73, prompted by Florida State Representative Kristin Jacobs (D) of Coconut Creek, passes. The bill surfaces in response to a late high school student, Ian Mautner, who struggled with addiction to kratom for three years before committing suicide.
Local 10 quotes Jacobs,
“People will say, they’ll tell you, ‘Oh it’s natural. It’s an herb. It’s a leaf. Well, so is cocaine.”
In some instances kratom is being touted as a replacement for opiate based substance use disorders- like prescription opiate pain relievers and heroin. The problem? Kratom binds to the body’s natural opiate receptors much like the substances they are tasked with eschewing. Although kratom is not an inherent opiate (wherein it does not contain opiates itself), it behaves similarly enough in the body to merit concern, and pose a considerable legitimacy of facilitating addiction.
The refutation from pro-kratom users? Kratom is a natural remedy for depression, anxiety, and emotional malaise. Akin to the abuse of alcohol, which is legal, each individual must use the substance responsibly. Mirroring pro-legalization activists, when it comes to all addictive substances, many believe they should be able to decide what is, or is not, dangerous to their own health.
Despite seemingly level headed discourse on the favor of self-discretion, the fact remains kratom poses a risk for addiction. Thailand, Malaysia, Burma, and Australia have all banned kratom. The DEA currently describes the drug as a “substance of concern.”
Those who use Kratom frequently begin to develop:
- Eating Disorders: Anorexia
- Weight Loss
- Skin Darkening
- Dry Mouth
- Frequent Urination
Withdrawal Symptoms of Kratom Include:
- Emotional Lability
- Wet Nose
- Achy Muscles & Bones
- Jerky Movement of the Limbs
The debate goes on: should we allow for the self-medication and alternative treatment of substance use disorders with potentially addictive herbs and natural remedies? At which point do herbs and supplements become as damaging as the substances they are attempting to remedy? Do the answers lie between healthy moderation and safe application, or the utter removal of any threat of addictive potential?
Should these decisions be left to us to decide for ourselves, or should we welcome the well-intentioned intervention of our representatives?
The root of any successful treatment of addiction in any form is to redress the underlying causes of the disease. Whether there are untreated psychological disorders in need of medication for chemical imbalances, or deep emotional trauma left to tear at the subconscious, no amount of natural remedies will help alleviate the underbelly of addiction.
Using natural remedies as a mask to address the real problem negates the effectiveness of natural medicine and continues the degradation of the disease to both the mind and body. (Not to mention, [this] creates skeptics of natural remedies altogether, lumping every benefit into the fear of potential addiction, where none may exist when used properly.) Natural remedies used to help ease withdrawal, or cope with emotional instability, must be coupled with treatment that helps to change behaviors and the way you think and respond to stressful, emotional, and potentially self-injurious situations.
For natural medicine to become truly effective in your recovery, you must not rely on it, but wield it to mobilize yourself to change the way you live your life. Unfortunately, many books on natural medicine don’t address that aspect of living. They’re simply lined with cures for everyday ills, minor and severe. What they don’t tell you is that you cannot become enslaved to these supplements if you want to prompt true change and recovery in your life.
Some find spirituality guides their path, others need to pursue continuing therapy. Whatever your means of transforming your life, it is absolutely essential you do so. Becoming enslaved to natural supplements, whether addictive or not, does not cure addiction, depression, or anxiety. These tactics simply mask your demons, just like cocaine, heroin, or meth.
Time to weigh in: What do you think about Kratom and natural remedies?
Featured image: Captain Vietnam Kartom by Gamblin licensed under CC by 3.0