Two Parents’ Kratom Stories: One Nightmare, One Miracle

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Kratom, a popular herb of Southeast Asian origin, is prohibited for human consumption in Denver and has been the subject of numerous health warnings from the federal Food and Drug Administration, which recently seized 540 kilos of the substance from a local company called Kratom Cafe USA in conjunction with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.

But debate between opponents and advocates continues to rage, with the former depicting the product as dangerously addictive (kratom-related calls to the Rocky Mountain Poison Control Center are said to have doubled in recent years) and the latter portraying it as a miracle capable of helping those dependent on heroin and other opiates kick much more dangerous habits.

A Father’s Story

“My son was an athlete. He played all four sports growing up before settling on basketball in high school. But he got injured during his senior year. He was a shooter; that’s what kept him on the team. But he got an upper back injury along with his spine from lifting.

“He’s a classic self-medicator, and after his injury, he started taking his mother’s Oxycontin and formed an addiction. We’re divorced, but she’s had all kinds of back issues, so he had access to these pills, which masked the pain — so he didn’t realize that the injury was getting worse and worse. His mom called me and said, ‘I’m noticing my pills are gone. I think he might be taking them.’ That’s when I jumped in, and it was the shit-storm you’d expect. At first, there was a lot of denials. But then he told me, ‘I’m addicted to these oxys. I can’t get off them.’

A Mother’s Story

“My daughter has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type 3. It’s a genetic disease. She doesn’t have enough collagen in her bones, in her joints.

“She’s had it since she was born, but we didn’t know. She’d be playing in a swing and her elbow would get dislocated constantly. We had to keep going to the emergency room. Finally, we learned to relocate it. But around fifteen or sixteen, she tried to work, and she kept getting fired because she had all these notes from doctors saying she couldn’t do certain things.

“She loves to bake, but she kept being fired from King Soopers, Albertsons, Safeway. I figured she couldn’t keep a job. So back in 2001, 2002, when she was older, I bought her a bakery so she could be her own boss, without knowing what the disease was. And it caused more damage because she was lifting a lot of things. Bakery stuff is heavy. I had my youngest daughter helping, but she had the disease, too. We didn’t know about that, either. They were both complaining about a lot of pain.

“Finally, we found a doctor who told us about the disease. At the time we learned of the illness, a specialist in Indiana informed that only three doctors knew about the illness. That was, according to him. He stated one was in England, the other in France, and he was in the U.S. He had the illness as well! He understood. There are more doctors now who are aware of the illness but don’t know what to do.

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