Kratom Addiction: Colorado Clinics’ Widely Different Reports
One reason kratom, a popular herb of Southeast Asian origin, remains so controversial is because there’s no consensus about its safety as a pain reliever or effectiveness as a tool for helping people get off heroin and other opiates. Take a recent post in which one Colorado parent said the substance turned his son into a jittery wreck and another claimed it had literally saved her daughter’s life.
A similar disconnect is evident among clinicians in Colorado.
“We’re seeing quite a lot of kratom-use disorders, and it seems to be on the rise,” says Dr. Nathan Moore, a board-certified addiction specialist currently working with the Denver branch of the Coleman Institute, a treatment center with offices across the country. Moore adds that ending dependency on the substance shares plenty in common with the process involved in kicking the aforementioned deadly drugs.
Contrast that with the observations of Jeff Burt, a licensed addiction counselor and clinical director for AspenRidge Recovery in Lakewood. He says that, in his experience, addiction to kratom remains fairly rare even in Colorado, where it’s widely available, and while he has not yet seen much evidence of it being a magic bullet, as its advocates maintain, he’s open to the idea of further scientific study to see if it can be used successfully in a professionally supervised medical setting.
In Denver, kratom has been banned for human consumption, and it’s been the subject of numerous health warnings from the federal Food and Drug Administration, which recently seized 540 kilos of the herb from a local company called Kratom Cafe USA in conjunction with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.
A clinic in Maine has made a name for itself by creating an addiction treatment program using kratom and marijuana. Yet kratom-related calls to the Rocky Mountain Poison Control Center are said to have doubled in recent years.
That doesn’t surprise The Coleman Institute’s Moore, who says Denver’s human consumption ban hasn’t had much of an effect on the growing number of folks seeking help to wean themselves off kratom. He talks about a recent patient “in our detox protocol who was using about 20 grams of kratom a day. And I’ve had guys come in and eat it dry, they’re so addicted to it. They’re not mixing it with water or making it into a tea. They’re eating it straight out of the bag.”
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