Cocaine and heroin, classified as schedule I drugs may have a new member in their family – Kratom. Kratom is a green leafy plant. Kratom, a legal treatment for opiate addiction would be classified as a Schedule I drug according to a bill introduced by Alabama State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur. Barry Matson, the deputy director of Alabama District Attorneys Association feels Kratom has to be made illegal as people with heroin addiction use this legal herb as a substitute.
Jack E. Henningfield, a professor of behavioral biology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, testified for Kratom, before the Wisconsin Controlled Substances Board, last year. According to him, many Kratom-based preparations are available in the US and there is very little evidence that Kratom can cause dependence or any adverse effects, and there have been no reports of Kratom overdose deaths.
The concern now is the rise in heroin related deaths when there is an actual decline in heroine drug abuse among the teens. The rise in heroin use coincides with the crackdown on legal opiate killers like Oxycontin and now Kratom. The CDC and Drug Enforcement Agency went after physicians who prescribed pain killers and the patients who went doctor hunting to refill their pain killer prescriptions.
The Jefferson County officials say Alabama is not immune and had a jump of 140% in heroin related deaths in 2014. New Hampshire officials fear the toll for opioid related deaths would increase to 400 for 2015.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nationwide heroin related deaths have quadrupled in the past decade. The surge in heroin related deaths in the last few years has given rise to a fear of a heroin epidemic. The CDC states 45% of heroin users also took prescription opiates.
Now, when law enforcement agencies are trying to control the use of these prescription drugs, users will revert to heroin to experience similar relief. Reports have shown that few people use Kratom as a substitute for heroin but controlling the use of this herb with medicinal properties may not effectively curtail the drug abuse.
When it comes to drug abuse, the user cannot be deflected from addiction by the drug being made illegal. Addicts will always find a way to get the same drug or a substitute. One such substitute for Kratom will be heroin and hence will result in increased consumption of heroin, which is a whole new complicated problem. The side effects of heroin overdose are well known and documented. However, such is not the case with Kratom. There are no scientific reports to back up the claims that Kratom can be a drug as potent as Heroin.
The law enforcement does not agree that replacing heroin with Kratom is a good idea, just because there are no documented over dose related deaths. According to Barry Matson, deputy director of the Alabama District Attorneys Association, when Kratom is used as a substitute for Heroin by the drug users themselves, Kratom must have the same effects on a person as Heroin. Thus making it equally bad for the consumer, and should to classified as illegal.
The losers in this drug war will not be the drug abusers; it will be those with chronic pain, and those who are trying to control their drug addiction. When the supply of Kratom is controlled, more people will switch to Heroin, thereby increasing the number of Heroin related cases.
Passing this law will only have negative consequence in the state and will not help in controlling drug abuse or overdoses. It will only push people towards more potent drugs and add fuel to the already burning drug abuse fire.