Kratom, Stimulants & Withdrawal: A Developing Story

This week, for #DFF we’re talking Kratom! You’ve probably not heard of it, but if you have, we’d love to hear from you! Ravelrie, NY DanceSafe & Stay Safe Seattle are joining me to talk about a substance that has both a long history and an entirely new global fanbase. In many places, like the USA, it’s actually still legal, though, as we’ve seen with a lot of gray-area drugs, that may not be the case for long.IMG_1784This drug has the very interesting side effect of essentially replacing methadone for opiate withdrawal. This is something that took me both a review of the research (summed up nicely in this Scientific American article) and a lengthy stay in r/kratom (that’s right, there’s a reddit community about it) to really believe. One of the differences between the article and the concreteness of the sub-reddit is immediately obvious. While the scientists are speculating and wondering about the effectiveness of the drug, there’s an entire underground of people already using it. Not only are they using it the way it’s traditionally used in Thailand, as the organic/natural analog to methamphetamine, similar to Khat & coca leaves in Africa & Latin America (respectively). But it also provides a much smoother withdrawal than when you try and stop using opiates. The only other drug I’ve ever encountered in my research that does this is Ibogaine, but that is a story for another day. This substance apparently replaces the opiate/pain medication usage, but when users try to quit this…they feel like they’ve got a caffeine headache.

The significantly reduced physical dependency potential & softer withdrawal symptoms have gotten people to use it to do what methodone, Narcotics Anonymous & a lifetime of DARE commercials couldn’t. Get them off drugs. Some succeed, a bunch fail, but in this case, they’ve got a leg-up, as dealing with caffeine withdrawal is a zillion (yea that’s a scientific term sure) times easier than weaning yourself off heroin. As any fan of Trainspotting could tell you. The drug isn’t actually scheduled in the USA, but the DEA is watching it like a hawk. There’s a chance that it could be used to help people, but I assume the usual suspects will shit all over that, but the fact that the community exists, is global, and has helped (admittedly self-report & confirmation bias not-withstanding) a lot of people, means there might be something here. Join us on Twitter at 4:30pm to help us figure it out.

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