The Silent Epidemic kratom, chronic pain and america's war on drugs


That's 35% of the population.

Opioid Use Disorder, on the other hand, affects 2.6 million people. That's less than one percent of the population in America. Specifically, it's 0.008% of the population.

This isn't to say that opioid related overdoses and addiction are not a problem in need of attention. They are. But the way our country has gone about trying to fix addiction by controlling the supply of drugs - drugs which chronic pain patients desperately need, is only going to lead to more deaths, likely by suicide.

This is not going to help fix the problem, it's only going to create different problems in a different population - The Chronic Pain patient.

Chronic pain often leads to depression, which sometimes can lead to suicide. It is the pain of feeling helpless to change one's circumstances and fear of not being able to live a normal life that leads to these feelings.


The state of Alabama in May 2015 banned kratom. Since that time, opioid overdoses have risen by 18%. The law has failed to prevent overdose deaths and addiction in that state.


IN HIS GROUNDBREAKING BOOK, THE CULT OF PHARMACOLOGY, Richard DeGrandpre, discusses America's relationship with a wide range of substances, from coffee to heroin.

Over the past century, certain drugs have come to be regarded as ‘‘all-powerful’’ substances; their effects on the user and society determined simply by their pharmacology. Author DeGrandpre exposes the fallacy of such a belief through an analysis of the characterization of drugs as either ‘‘demons’’ or ‘‘angels’’.

Cocaine, he maintains, is seen as a ‘‘demon’’ drug, a dangerous and addictive substance that corrupts all those who come into contact with it. Ritalin, on the other hand, is regarded as an ‘‘angel’’, widely used in the treatment of children with (ADHD).

Yet, according to DeGrandpre chemically the two drugs are very similar: it is social context which has shaped their meaning, not pharmacology.

The Drug War is based on the illusion that we can prevent people from becoming addicted to certain substances that have been demonized in the media for far too long. Just like Reefer Madness was based on a lie, so too are the allegations against kratom.

Specifically, journalist and pharmacologist David Kroll last week wrote in Forbes:

Along with Tuesday's FDA warning, the agency also released a 164-page document with case details on 28 deaths where kratom was present, first referred to in the November 2017 advisory. This report joins another from December showing details of eight other deaths. Nick Wing, a Huffington Post senior reporter, dissected these fatal adverse reaction reports and found that in many, kratom and its constituents were likely innocent bystanders. The agency even includes among kratom-associated deaths cases of fatalities by hanging, gunshot and others where kratom was adulterated with the active metabolite of a prescription opioid, O-desmethyltramadol.
My take? If Dr. Gottlieb's statement were a pharmacology graduate student's written qualifying exam answer to a question seeking an objective assessment of kratom pharmacology and toxicology, I'd have no choice but to issue a failing grade.

I would tell the student:

You failed to read 20 years of published scientific literature on alkaloids present in the kratom plant, Mitragyna speciosa.
You failed to demonstrate any mastery of current research on the biochemical pharmacology of opioids.
You were overly reliant on unpublished data from a computational model in the absence of direct, experimental confirmation.
You made safety conclusions based on confirmation bias and a poor assessment of adverse reaction reports where kratom or its constituents were present.
You also made safety conclusions in the absence of considering the impact on public health if kratom were banned.
You concluded that the substance has no medical benefit in the absence of a prospective clinical trial for any indication with a well-qualified kratom product or purified kratom alkaloid.
The scientific community has known that kratom contains alkaloid compounds with mild opioid activity since animal experiments first published in 1996 and 1997. These studies showed that the action of the major kratom constituent, mitragynine, could inhibit pain impulses and intestinal movement in a manner that was reversed by the opioid blocker, or antagonist, naloxone. Conclusive evidence of binding by several kratom alkaloids to human opioid receptors was shown experimentally in 2016, but those studies showed kratom-derived opioids behaved very differently from strong opioids like morphine.
But from over 200 stories I've collected from kratom users over the last two years, consumers using kratom to relieve physical suffering far outweigh the small number of people that might try to use kratom for an opioid-like high. (I've tried it myself several times, at a legal kratom bar in North Carolina, and I can assure you that I will still be using prescription opioids following my next surgical procedure.)

Banning Kratom would criminalize people with either chronic pain or addiction. Both are public health issues, not criminal issues.

Addiction is the only disease for which we throw people in cages without adequate support and/or resources to help them heal.

This isn't just about saving the lives of addicts. This is about the cruel and unusual form of punishment the government uses against those who suffer. It can take years to win a disability claim, if one wins at all. And is that what we really want?

Do we really want Americans who have finally felt enough relief to play with their children to stop interacting with their children, thereby creating a generation of neglected children?

Neglect can often lead to addiction thereby perpetuating the cycle over and over again, as addiction specialist Dr. Gabor Mate points out in the video below.

"Despite almost 50 years of the drug war—a policy that creates black markets, enriches drug cartels, and fuels killing zones in scores of cities, even as it causes the United States to cage more human beings than any other democracy in the world—it remains extremely easy for Americans to acquire the most addictive, deadly drugs." - The Atlantic
Similar to military combat, the War on Drugs takes the lives of millions of people every year - all funded with taxpayer dollars.
September 2016: The Kratom Community came together to rally against the DEA. The move sought to criminalize kratom consumers for using the herb to manage their symptoms for which other therapies had failed. Yet, in an unprecedented event, the DEA withdrew their intent to place Mitragyna species in schedule one along with heroin and LSD.
"I speak out now because of what kratom has done for me. I speak out for my brother and sisters who might have what has given me back my life taken from them. I speak out because I believe that, no matter where one lives, what they put in their own body is their choice. And I speak out because I fear that next you'll come for me," said one Reddit user in 2016.
Created By
Kratom Literacy Project


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