Year after year, the opioid epidemic continues to plague average “every-day” Americans in the United States. It’s understandable, of course; doctors take the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm” and therefore they have a moral and ethical obligation to manage pain appropriately. Major accidents occur every single day which lead to severe injuries. Opioid compounds are among the most effective painkillers known to mankind at this time. This very useful effect doesn’t come without an equally powerful downside, which is an incredibly high addiction potential. “Addiction is described as a brain disease resulting in a loss of control over drug taking or in compulsive drug seeking, despite noxious consequences” (Nestler, 2000, pp. 277-281). Opioids often lead to both a co-occurring dependency and addiction, with the former generally considered to be a physiological need or reliance on a drug with observable effects noted upon cessation of the drug whereas the latter is a purely psychological phenomenon with no observable physiological effects noted upon cessation (i.e., the drive to continue the behavior originates solely from the mind's desire). This article uses the term "dependency" to most accurately describe the events detailed below. This article tells the story of one American’s survival, struggle, and escape from the grip of a powerful opioid dependency.
Anthony’s first introduction to opioids was a serious injury which needed surgery, which is identical to many other Americans’ first experience with them. Anthony painted the picture of an ordinary childhood and young adulthood. “I came from an average home, attended D.A.R.E. programs in elementary school, and I never saw myself as an individual who would ever end up struggling with a substance dependency,” Anthony said. “Unfortunately, I was in a severe motor vehicle accident involving multiple broken bones and an emergency surgery.” Thus, Anthony’s relationship with opioids started out as a legitimate need for pain control medication. The injuries, post-operative recovery, and 8 months of agonizing physical therapy were too unbearable to endure without potent painkillers. Physical opioid dependency forms rapidly, in as little as just a few days (Azadfard, Huecker, & Leaming, 2023). Anthony’s injuries were severe, and he ended up needing oxycodone for 9 consecutive months following the car crash. Anthony continued, “There was absolutely no way of avoiding the dependency that my body had developed over such a long timeframe. I was doomed to suffer with [opioid dependency] in the end. I really had no choice.” Anthony withdrew from the oxycodone on his own during that first instance of dependency, slowly tapering down in dosage and finally stopping completely (going “cold turkey”). It was an agonizing process that he says he wouldn’t wish on his worst enemy.
Unfortunately, the orthopedic hardware that was installed to repair his bones during the first surgery would cause Anthony very intense, daily pain because it was extremely irritating to the surrounding muscles and nerves. Consequently, the hardware would need to be removed 5 years later via a second surgery. However, another surgery meant another bottle of opioids. Anthony explains, “This time it was a 1-month prescription for oxycodone, and that was more than enough to fall off the wagon. I tried as hard as I possibly could to resist it, but I wasn’t able to handle the pain without the meds and then after a week I wasn’t able to just stop taking them. Thankfully this time, I discovered the miracle of Kratom!”
As he sat in despair wondering how he was going to beat round #2 of opioid dependency, Anthony started researching about his options. Amongst the links to methadone clinics, suboxone clinics, rehab centers, etc. he found information about a plant called Mitragyna speciosa, more commonly known as “Kratom.” It seemed like the perfect tool that he desperately needed to win his newest fight. Kratom activates the same receptors that opioid painkillers activate, however Kratom interacts with them in a slightly different way which means it affects the body differently than standard opioids.
As luck would have it, there was a local brick & mortar location in Anthony’s city which was staffed with folks who were experts in all things Kratom. “I found Kratom Kafe USA’s website and realized they were right here in Tucson! I didn’t think there would be a physical store here so that was great. They answered my questions and I left with a bag of powder. I knew after the very first dose that Kratom was going to save my life.” The horrible withdrawal symptoms caused by opioid cessation were significantly reduced for Anthony compared to his first time beating his dependency cold turkey. “I could actually sit still, sleep decently well, stay out of the restroom for more than 30 minutes, and eat real food! After only a few days, I no longer wanted the oxycodone anymore. I was absolutely elated with this stuff!” Anthony discovered Kratom just a few years after the United States Drug Enforcement Agency tried to enact an emergency scheduling of Kratom which would have made it unavailable to help him and others like him. During the public comment period following the announcement of their intent, the DEA received an overwhelmingly negative outpouring of commentary submissions from folks like Anthony who were outraged at the attempt to outlaw Kratom. Recognizing how many Americans were benefiting from Kratom, the DEA withdrew their Letter of Intent and Kratom remained legal and available. “I continue to use Kratom for pain, lethargy, and depressed mood. Most importantly, it often keeps me from falling back into opioids, which is a very important aspect to consider. Sadly, I believe that there’s a large amount of scare tactics and half-truths being shared that makes Kratom out to be nothing but a dangerous drug with no use or purpose at all. I take serious issue with that.” Anthony believes that a philosophy known as “harm reduction” is the best practice in cases like his. “People who go looking for Kratom are usually already suffering in some form whether that’s opioid withdrawal, pain, anxiety, depression, etc. Kratom can give them hope and relief. If we take a black & white perspective on this issue and say that a person either gets completely sober or doesn’t try to get off opioids at all, or that half measures aren’t allowed whatsoever, we will never get out of the opioid epidemic. A lot of people will be stuck living in pain and misery. In my experience Kratom is way less harmful overall than any type of legal or illegal opioid, and transitioning from them to Kratom is a valid step in the right direction for anyone who is struggling with dependency or isn’t well managed with prescription painkillers. Nothing in life is completely harmless or without downsides. All that I ask is that people do unbiased research for themselves and read from both sides before deciding if Kratom is something that can help them live a better life.”
Written By: KratomEverythingUSA Collaborative Writers
Published: July 5, 2023
Azadfard M, Huecker MR, Leaming JM. Opioid Addiction. [Updated 2023 Apr 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448203/
Nestler E. J. (2000). Genes and addiction. Nature genetics, 26(3), 277–281. https://doi.org/10.1038/81570