Kratom Overview:

Kratom is an emerging legal, over-the-counter substance being marketed as an “alternative medicine.” It is advertised as a pain killer, treatment for diarrhea, and a therapy for opiate addiction. Usually consumed as a tea, abusers may also chew, smoke or swallow kratom. In low doses, kratom may be used as a stimulant. However, in higher doses, it mimics a sedative. It is also frequently taken as a recreational drug.

Kratom is an herbal drug derived from a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia- Thailand, Malaysia, and Myanmar. Forms of kratom available through the Internet include leaves (whole or crushed), powder, extract, encapsulated powder and extract resin "pies" (pellets or bars made from reduced extract).

Kratom has been marketed under other names including: Thank, Kakuam, Thom, Ketum and Biak. It is commonly purchased on the Internet from various websites in the United States and overseas. There have been numerous reports of kratom abuse throughout Europe and several locations in the United States. The popularity of this product is broadened through Internet-based discussion groups, online retailers and strategic marketing practices. Kratom is available at head shops within the Gulf Coast HIDTA area. Retail prices for various gram-sized packages of kratom range from $15 - $50 USD depending on the potency and strain. There is no legitimate medical use for kratom in the United States.

While kratom abuse is not believed to be widespread in the United States, it has the potential of becoming an emerging trend. Kratom, although not controlled in the United States, is never-the-less, currently on the DEA list of Drugs and Chemicals of Concern.

Side Effects:

Reported side effects include: nausea, itching, sweating, dry mouth, constipation, increased urination, and loss of appetite. These effects commonly occur within five to ten minutes after ingestion and last from two to five hours. Like heroin and other opiates, kratom consumption may also lead to addiction. Long-term use of kratom produces anorexia, weight loss, insomnia, and skin darkening. Withdrawal symptoms may consist of hostility, aggression, wet nose, achy muscles and bones, and jerky movement of the limbs. In addicts, several cases of psychotic symptoms have been reported that included hallucinations, delusion and confusion.

Incidents:

Physicians and drug abuse centers in Florida have reported seeing more than 100 patients over the past year due to problems associated with kratom use. Kratom abuse is common in the rehab community where it is used as a substitute for drugs like heroin or oxycodone because it does not appear on a drug screen. Many head shops are marketing kratom as an opiate like substance with effects similar to that of many illegal drugs.

Abuse of the substance has also been reported by poison control centers in Arizona. According to treatment professionals in the Gulf Coast HIDTA, there have been no reports of kratom abuse or overdoses in our five-state area.

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Sources: Drug Enforcement Administration’s El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), Louisiana State Police, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, National Drug Intelligence Center, Louisiana State Police, Drug Enforcement Administration- Pharmaceutical Diversion. Mississippi Department of Mental Health. Office of Arkansas State Drug Director.