The latest in a string of “legal” drugs – that is, mind-altering substances existing outside the scope of law enforcement that can be purchased easily at a head shop or over the internet – is called kratom, and its popularity is growing increasingly evident as kratom “finds its way to South Florida and lawmakers debate whether to prohibit it.” However, despite the popularity it has garnered, little has been said or discussed in the mainstream as to the chemical makeup and potentially harmful effects associated with kratom. The lack of such a mainstream and educated response to kratom’s presence has given rise to extreme speculation as to kratom’s “harmless” effects, so we thought it best to spur a conversation of our own in hopes of deterring kratom-use by individuals oblivious to the truth behind its labeling.

Kratom: Why South Florida Families should be Paying Attention

Kratom is derived from Mitragyna speciosa. “Mitragyna speciosa is a leafy tree that grows from 3-15 meters tall. Its leaves contain mitragynine and are chewed as an opiate substitute and stimulant in Thailand and South-East Asia, primarily among the working class.” Along with being chewed, kratom leaves can be smoked, brewed as a tea, or made into an extract. Kratom use is said to produce contradictory effects, simultaneously inducing sedation and stimulation that mimic opiate- and coca-like onsets. These effects are of great concern, particularly when considering their hindrance of day-to-day faculties – such as driving – or when kratom is mixed with other sedatives and/or drugs as is often the case with substance abuse.

While the long-term effects of kratom are not yet fully understood, “Acute side effects include nausea, itching, sweating, dry mouth, constipation, increased urination and loss of appetite. Kratom consumption can lead to addiction, according to the DEA.” Kratom’s addictive properties are slowly earning it some bad press in a few circles; though kratom has not been made illegal in the United States, “The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has classified it as a ‘drug of concern,’ the first step toward eventually prohibiting it.”

Monitoring South Florida Kratom Use

We at Cornerstone Recovery Center are careful not to induce hysteria at kratom’s introduction to our South Florida community. However, as with any substance – from caffeine to heroin – great care should be taken when introducing the body to a drug that alters one’s faculties, inhibitions, mood, and psychology. We, of course, encourage you to learn all you can as kratom continues to permeate South Florida’s drug culture, and should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. We, like you, are sitting attentively as kratom’s story unfolds, and we are taking great care to ensure that our community is not further endangered by the growing list of “legal” drugs.