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What is Kratom?

I recently found out my 31 year old son has been abusing opiates. His younger brother of 20 years has also been doing opiates or anything he can get his hands on. He has been in detox twice, but just doesn't want to quit. Now the younger one has started using Kratom because he says it’s legal and he says it will get him off of opiates. He has now convinced the older brother to try it to get off of his opiates. I am scared for both of them. We don't have insurance and neither does the older brother.


Kratom is not safe. In fact, it is illegal in Thailand - where much of the world supply is produced–as well as several other European and Asian countries. Kratom is in the same family as the coffee tree. Kratom leaves are chewed, made into tea and are sometimes combined with cough syrup and Coke, tranquilizers and marijuana to produce a narcotic drink called "4x100." According to this MSNBC report, Kratom is addictive – it produces withdrawal symptoms similar to heroin and is increasing emergency room visits in the US. The US Drug Enforcement Agency considers Kratom a "drug of concern." Their DEA fact sheet includes information on a study of Thai Kratom addicts. Long term use produced anorexia, weight loss, insomnia, skin darkening, dry mouth, frequent urination and constipation. A withdrawal syndrome was also observed, consisting of symptoms of hostility, aggression, emotional lability, wet nose, achy muscles and bones, and jerky movement of the limbs. Furthermore, several cases of Kratom psychosis were observed, where Kratom addicts exhibited psychotic symptoms that included hallucinations, delusion and confusion. Kratom is not the cure for your sons’ addictions. To address their opiate addictions, they need to commit to evidence based detox and recovery programs. They can find a local program on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website.

Regarding insurance, if someone lives in Chicago, we recommend you sign up for CountyCare. If you live outside the city limits, you should find an insurance navigator to provide you with options that meet your personal and family needs. It is important to get involved in some type of service. It does not necessarily have to be addictions treatment, but some mental health treatment would be critical. Many professional schools can provide support on a sliding fee scale and some require no fee.

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