Kratom is a tropical deciduous and evergreen tree in the coffee family native to Southeast Asia in the Indochina and Malisia floristic regions. Its leaves are used for medicinal properties. It is psychoactive, and leaves are chewed to uplift mood and to treat health problems.
Kratom is indigenous to Thailand yet it has been outlawed for 70 years. It was originally banned because it was reducing the Thai government’s tax revenue from opium distribution. Kratom and its derivatives have been used as a substitute for opium as well as an aid for the management of opium withdrawal.
Data on the incidence and prevalence of its use are lacking, as physicians are generally unfamiliar with it and its use is not detected by typical drug screening tests. Kratom metabolites can be detected by specialized mass spectrometer tests. Incidence of Kratom use appears to be on the rise among those who have been self-managing chronic pain with opioids purchased without a prescription and are cycling (but not quitting) their use.
As of 2011, there have been no formal trials performed to study the efficacy or safety of Kratom to treat opioid addiction. The pharmacological effects of Kratom on humans are not well studied. Its metabolic half-life protein binding and elimination characteristics are all unknown. Kratom behaves as a u-opioid receptor agonist, similar to opiates like morphine, although its effects differ significantly from those of opiates.
Kratom does not appear to have significant adverse effects, and in particular appears not to cause the hypoventilation typical of other opioids. Compulsive use has been reported among drug users who inject opioids, and those who use opioids to manage pain without direction from medical professionals.
The DEA warns the leaves from Kratom trees are widely available on the internet and sold as crushed leaves that can be smoked or steeped in tea. The kratom leaf is native to Southeast Asia. However, it’s banned there but it’s legal in the US, leaving several wondering why.
The DEA says Kratom can lead to addiction. At low doses users report alertness and energy and at high doses, the drug produces sedative effects. According to the DEA, there is no legitimate use for Kratom but they’re still conducting research on the possible dangers of using the drug.
Side effects associated with chronic Kratom use include constipation, loss of appetite and weight loss and darkening of the skin color on the face. Chronic use has been associated with bowel obstruction. Chronic users have also reported withdrawal symptoms including irritability, runny nose and diarrhea. Withdrawal is generally mild and short-lived, and may be treated with dihydrocodeine and lofexidine.
Three cases reported documented deaths involving kratom. Other drugs were used in all cases and in one, Kratom was speculated to possibly be the primary cause of death. In 1975, there was an isolated report of serious adverse effects such as psychosis, hallucinations, convulsions and confusion among five individuals who had used kratom daily for 10-35 years.
Darren Weissman (better known as his alter ego Doctor Dribble) spoke about the importance of setting goals on Friday, February 28th. He should know. Doctor Dribble has set and met multiple goals for himself over the years, including running an Iron Man competition even though he was not an experienced biker or swimmer. He also holds the Guinness World Record for running the fastest marathon while dribbling two basketballs.
Setting a daily goal is one of the most important ways to be healthy! Your daily goal can be something as simple as making your bed everyday or not being late to school. Theo, a teenager at Inspirations, said his daily goal was to make someone’s day. Doctor Dribble pointed out that just saying a simple “thank you” can be enough to make someone else’s day. He’s right. Being grateful is important. Many times, we get so wrapped up in our own lives and we forget to be grateful for what we have. Practice being grateful by saying thank you to someone who does something nice for you.
Setting goals also helps you to feel proud of yourself when you accomplish that goal. Setting a daily goal can help you to set bigger, future goals like going to college, getting a great job, or starting a new business. In recovery, a typical daily goal is to stay sober for the next 24 hours. “One day at a time” is a helpful mantra to remember. Setting a goal for the day reminds you that you need to accomplish that goal, just as you need to accomplish your bigger goals. Practice makes perfect. If you set and meet a goal everyday, you will be ready to take on the huge goals for your future!
Doctor Dribble also discussed physical and mental strength during his speech. It’s easy to test physical strength. How do you test mental strength, however? Doctor Dribble posed this question to the audience. John, a teenager in the program, responded by saying that someone who is able to control their anger is mentally strong. You can control anger by taking a deep breath and walking away from the situation that is making you angry. Doctor Dribble told the audience that using your breath can help you feel more calm and relaxed.
Following his speech, Doctor Dribble wowed the audience with his amazing dribbling skills. He even was able to do a one-handed push up, while dribbling a basketball. Doctor Dribble likes to prove that nothing is impossible, a message that he made abundantly clear to the audience.
Millions of people use drugs to manage their pain. These pain killers can be a life saver for those who are sick of suffering from chronic pain. Unfortunately, narcotics can be addictive and the user becomes dependent on the drug over time. This means that people have to take the medication, or else they will suffer severe withdrawal symptoms.
Opiates, opioids, and narcotics are very addictive types of drugs and the withdrawal side effects can be very unpleasant. These effects include nausea, vomiting, constipation, irregular heartbeat, excessive sweating, and body and muscle aches. These symptoms are just the beginning of a process that could last days and does get progressively worse. In extreme cases, withdrawal symptoms can cause seizures, strokes, heart attacks, and sometimes death.
People who have been taking prescription pain killers for a long time should never try to quit “cold turkey”. The best way to safely stop taking opiates is to discuss tapering down the dose with a doctor. People can also enter an opiate detox where they will be monitored and given medications for severe withdrawal symptoms.
Long term opiate use can lead to a buildup of chemicals in the body. These chemicals can become strong enough to effect even pregnant women. Pregnant women and their newborns can experience opiate withdrawal, even if there are no opiates in the mother’s system. The NIH has released this article with information on the rising rates of babies born with opiate withdrawal. These cases are called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) which can cause low birth weight and respiratory problems for the newborns. Many of these newborns need extra care and attention.
As we mentioned earlier, going through withdrawal from opiates is not something that people should do on their own. In fact, many people who suddenly quit their prescription drugs are more likely to relapse because the withdrawal is unmanageable. No one should have to quit alone nor should they have to suffer the harsh side effects.
There are drugs which can be used to treat opiate addiction and dependence such as methadone, buprenorphine, and clonidine. These drugs act in a similar way to opiates but can have strong adverse effects themselves and are almost always given under strict medical supervision. They’re helpful, but many doctors are weary of their patients trading one addiction for another.
Inhalant use refers to huffing a gas or vapor with the explicit purpose of getting high. Unfortunately, inhalant use is considered a gateway drug because most teens start using inhalants when they’re in elementary or middle school. Inhalants can be anything from a can of spray paint, white-out correction fluid, or even keyboard cleaner. Most of these chemicals are readily available in hardware store and many kids may find these drugs in the garage or even in their desk at home. Inhalants are particularly dangerous because using the inhalant just once can cause sudden death syndrome.
Getting high off of an inhalants can be as simple as purchasing cleaning supplies, solvents or even paints. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides more info on inhalants in this article. The article illustrated the fact that even common substances can be abused as an inhalant. Those substances can be liquid chemicals such as shoe polish, toluene, gasoline, lighter fluid, and even spray paint.
Inhalants cause a variety of long and short term effects that are anything but pleasant. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), short term side effects include feelings of being lightheaded, nausea, and agitation. If solvents are inhaled for a prolonged period of time then the user could eventually lose consciousness. Long term effects may include convulsions or seizures because when electrical discharges in the brain become abnormal, the brain can shut down all but the most vital functions causing a coma. Brain damage, destruction of nerve fibers, and other neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis can be the result of inhalants usage over a long period of time.
Short term abuse of inhalants can be reversed; however the long term effects of prolonged use causes irreversible damage. Using a commonplace object outside of its intended purpose is considered abuse and inhalant abuse is very dangerous. Please call us right away if you or someone you love is abusing inhalants.
Education Director Denise Achee: Hi! Thank you so much for coming in to do a testimonial for us. It’s so important for us to get the word out to other people your age. Tell me, how many days have you been here?
Melissa T: I’ve been here for about 75 days.
DA: Now did you come in willingly or did you have an intervention?
MT: No I had an intervention.
DA: Would you have ever come in here willingly?
DA: [laughs] And how did the intervention go?
MT: [laughs] It was really like…bad. I was not…I was like trying to get away. I was like, “what are the other options blah blah blah…” But I always kind of had a small part of me that wanted to go to rehab. So, then I was like, you know what? I’ll just go.
DA: What was happening in your life? How long had you been using?
MT: I had been using since I was like in 8th or 9th grade, but it became unmanageable and really bad in the past year.
DA: Melissa, share with us: what were you using? Did you start out using weed?
MT: Yeah I was using weed and then it went to like, pills and then like pills and acid. I started doing a lot of Xanax and then I started doing a lot of coke. I really just dabbled in everything.
DA: How were you getting money to do your drugs?
MT: I had a job, but when I didn’t have a job I would steal and sell things or just do anything. Like I would babysit, just anything that I could get money from.
DA: How were your friends that you were hanging out with?
MT: They were like…not…you know…like…they were all using so it made me feel like it didn’t matter if I did. They just weren’t positive influences.
DA: Do you feel that you will still be friends with them when you go home?
MT: No, because I mean I thought I could like try to work it out and change them but I can’t.
DA: Now Melissa, I know when you came in you were a very high academic and you said to me that you wanted to get your GED [high school diploma equivalency]. Now, that has changed?
MT: Yeah, now it’s changed. Now I want to graduate high school and go to college. Now I actually have goals in my life.
DA: How is your relationship with your family now?
MT: It’s great, like we can talk and like be civil and like have fun together.
DA: What was it like before?
MT: Before we would just argue all the time and I wouldn’t even be home. Like if I was home then we were just fighting.
DA: Were you lying to them?
MT: Yeah and I would run away and live with my friends.
DA: Now I know your mom is outside and you haven’t seen your mom for how many days?
MT: She is?! Like 80 [days].
DA: 80 days! Ok, so I’m going to let you go. I want to thank you so much for sharing this experience with others who may be in need of our services.
DA: So thank you so much!
MT: Thank you too!