The Federal Food and Drug Administration declared Kratom an Opioid. Kratom, derived from plants, is a psychoactive, meaning it can affect users’ mood, thoughts and behaviors. In the tropical forests of Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, and other regions of Southeast Asia, the leaves are chewed to treat ailments such as depression, anxiety, hypertension, opioid addiction, alcoholism and pain and even some skin conditions. In the US, people generally take Kratom in pill form.
Plant-Based Opioid Not Necessarily Safe
Scott Gottlieb, FDA Commissioner, says despite widely accepted notion that since Kratom is plant-based and therefore safe, the organization’s analysis determined that the drug is considered an opioid. He also reminds naysayers that Heroin is derived from the poppy plant, but is also not safe. They are both, in fact, very dangerous, addictive substances.
Though Kratom was banned in Thailand and Malayasia where it grows naturally, the US FDA placed Kratom on its list of “Drugs and Chemicals of Concern,” and previously had not done testing or analysis to determine it’s scientific makeup or possible effects. With this new declaration, kratom can now be considered a controlled substance and thus will be regulated as such.
The change comes amid a unprecedented addiction epidemic, with thousands dying of overdose every year, with the rate of deaths increasing at an alarming rate. In conjunciton with this rise is the concurrent rise in prescribed medications. The Alliance for a Stronger FDA held an event on Febrary 6, at which Gottlieb said of the new strategy for the control of Kratom, “If you can reduce exposure, you can reduce new addiction. It’s math, to some degree,”.
Kratom Deaths in the US
The FDA cites 44 kratom-related deaths since 2011 (available on it’s Adverse Event Reporting System database), however, this number is being widely disputeds since only a small number of those cases invovled deaths where Kratom was the only substance found in the system. Most involve polydrug use, most often in conjunction with other opioids and tramadol, and so there is speculation that Kratom was not the direct cause of death.
Use statistics of Kratom in the US are hard to nail down, largely because of the lack of research and the fact that it cannot be detected from typical drug screenings.
FDA Strategy to Limit Supply
Gottlieb beleives that reducing available supply will reduce addiction, and so is working with regulators to provide opioids including Kratom in ‘blister packs’ of 8 or less pills. It is possible that the FDA’s move is signaling for a renewed effort to ban Kratom altogether.
More on Kratom Abuse
- Kratom Abuse and Treatment
- Dangers and side effects of Kratom Abuse
- Does Kratom Cause withdrawal Symptoms?
If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid addiction, it’s important to get into treatment as soon as possible. Futures can help. Call today.