Appalachia -- and Kentucky, in particular -- has an addiction problem. The lack of jobs and abundance of opioids have teamed up to create the nation's highest rate of acute Hepatitis C infection -- and now the state seems to be gearing up to ban the herb Kratom, which is a low-cost remedy for removing the barrier of withdrawal for addicts of all sorts.
It is the fear of the terrible withdrawal experience that often leads addicts to find any way to continue doing opiates rather than quit them, which many would love to do. Kratom makes it possible to quit opiates with virtually no withdrawal and at little expense.
Paradoxically, Kratom Is Nature's Solution to Kentucky's Addiction Epidemic
Kratom has been used for centuries in Southeast Asia -- where it grows both wild and cultivated -- to ease the withdrawal from opium and heroin. Oddly, the government of Thailand banned the Kratom trees in 1943 because Kratom was reducing the opium addiction there, thus cutting the Thai government's tax revenue.
Once again, Kratom is cutting into someone's revenue and an emotional plea goes out across the airwaves, "Save our children from this foreign peril!"
Never mind that the injectable opiates carry with them the risk of a major HIV outbreak, like the one in Scott County, Indiana, 200 miles to the north. Indiana banned Kratom a couple years ago. Now they have one less weapon to battle the triple threat of opioid addiction-Hep C- and HIV.
It could be argued that Kratom is the best weapon Kentucky could have to help unwind its addiction crisis, by making it relatively easy to quit opiates permanently.
The confusion over Kratom seems to stem from a misunderstanding of why Kratom use is growing. Kratom is the natural solution to the many factors that lead a person to choose opiates as the answer to their problems. These problems might include physical pain, emotional insecurity, anxiety, depression, lack of economic opportunity, and abuse received as a child.
There is a major obstacle when politicians try to decipher the "problem" of Kratom, which they are told is just another form of opioid that may lead youth to stronger drugs, thus ostensibly creating more addiction.
What politicians aren't being told is that the majority of those who consume Kratom do so because it is a safer, non-addictive herb with which they can treat their own pain, without the expense and stigma of being placed on a more addictive alternative drug like methadone or suboxone. (Yes, both these drugs are harder to quit than heroin. Ask any long-term addict.)
Kratom consumers are your neighbors, who -- because of auto accidents, war injuries, PTSD, psychological trauma, depression, etc. -- want something that combines many features that nothing their doctor has can give.
They are ecstatic that they have found this herb, which they prefer over medical marijuana, because it does not produce a "high" or disoriented feeling.
They became believers in the gentle power of Kratom when it helped them overcome their prescription drug addiction without suffering the usual withdrawal agony.
With Kratom's help, these constituents of yours can get out of bed and return to the normal activities of life, clearheaded, energetic, and feeling normal again -- quite unlike how they felt on the prescription drugs their doctor offered them as their only option.
These people -- who I estimate represent 80% of Kratom consumers -- are using the herb responsibly, treating it as a God-send -- a medication that works better than anything their doctors have. (I even know one medical doctor with Ulcerative Colitis, who uses Kratom after having assured himself of its safety -- and is very happy with the results.)
I urge the Senators and Representatives of Kentucky to read the testimonials of a few of the typical Kratom consumers represented by the American Kratom Association.
Please, don't make the majority of adult, responsible Kratom consumers pay for the wrongheaded drug-seeking antics of those who are responding to a false, TV-created problem that advertises Kratom as a "legal high".
Don't be misled by those with a financial interest in keeping patients taking unpleasant, ineffective medications. When an herb can do a better job than 5 or 10 prescription drugs -- at a cost savings to the state, why shouldn't the patient have the option to choose that herb?
Please Kentucky, don't make the mistake that Indiana made. Don't look this "gift horse" in the mouth!