Kratom: Legal, Addictive, and Dangerous
After the tragic suicide of Ian Mautner last July that was attributed to kratom, Broward County has been making efforts to ban the herbal drug. Mautner’s mother watched her 17-year-old son’s life spiral out of control as he started taking this legal substance at kava bars with his friends. Mautner said her once happy and successful son started spending hundreds of dollars on kratom each day, becoming depressed, delusional, argumentative, and addicted to the substance. Ian was in and out of rehabs for several years before plunging to his death on I-95.
What is it?
Kratom, found in head shops and kava bars, is a designer drug that comes from a tree in Southeast Asia and produces both a stimulant and sedative effect. It is a green, leaf-like substance that can come in its traditional plant form, teas, powders, or pills. In its natural form and in small quantities, it is known for its calming effects and is safe to use in holistic medicine, particularly in Thailand. Unfortunately, the kratom found in the United States is not typically found in its natural form, and is being combined with other drugs. As people try different new ways to get high, it has become dangerous and addictive. An overdose includes hallucinations, aggression, tremors, delusions, loss of muscle control, nausea, and listlessness. This designer drug is addictive and a person addicted to it will experience withdrawal symptoms similar to opiate withdrawal.
Banning kratom in Florida
This January, Florida lawmakers proposed a bill banning kratom in the Sunshine State. The bill would make it a Schedule I controlled substance, classifying it as a drug with a high potential for abuse and no medical benefits. The United States DEA, who has reported that this designer drug produces opiate-like effects, has been keeping an eye on it in recent years. There has been an increase in the number of people seeking treatment for a kratom addiction in the past several years, signalling the growing problem with this currently legal drug.
In 2013, a couple from Jupiter sued the Purple Lotus Kava Bar in West Palm Beach because they claimed they became addicted to its speciality drinks, which had kratom in them as a special ingredient. The owner of the bar responded by saying his drinks are simply a healthy and safe alternative to “take the edge off.”
Lawmakers’ effort to reduce kratom addiction
In February, Palm Beach County commissioners proposed an ordinance that would require establishments that sell kratom to post warning signs about its possible dangers. It is important that more research takes place to explore the dangers and potential for abuse about this currently legal substance.
As we have seen with alcohol, the legal status of a substance does not define its severity. Although kratom is currently legal, more and more people are becoming addicted to it and suffering the consequences. Ian Mautner’s suicide, attributed to his 2.5 year struggle with a kratom addiction, demonstrates that even legal substances pose dangers to society.
If you are struggling with a kratom addiction, or dependency on any other substances, help is available. Contact Recovery Advocates today at 844.723.9256 to start your new life in recovery from a drug and/or alcohol addiction.