How Smoke Shops and Kratom Are Changing the Face of Addiction in America

October, 2019

How Smoke Shops and Kratom Are Changing the Face of Addiction in America

Is Kratom Safe?
How smoke shops are legally selling addictive substances to America’s teens.

In Anytown, USA, you’ll find multiple smoke shops and vape shops. On the outset, they appear to sell vaping instruments that are marketed as aids to help people quit smoking. However, walk inside and stay awhile, and you’ll find a host of dangerous addictive drugs, including kratom.

If you’re asking yourself, what is kratom, here’s the answer. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Kratom is a tropical tree (Mitragyna speciosa) native to Southeast Asia, with leaves that contain compounds that can have psychotropic (mind-altering) effects.”

There are two things to note about what kratom is here.

  1. It’s on the National Institute of Drug Abuse’s radar. The mere listing of kratom indicates that it has the potential for addiction and abuse.
  2. It has mind-altering effects. In simple terms, this means that it once it is ingested, it changes how the brain works. Since we are all unique, these psychotropic changes impact everyone differently. One person may experience pleasure, and someone else may have terrifying hallucinations.

Going Undercover to Get the Real Story on Kratom.
I went to a smoke shop to hear how they market kratom.

I went to my local vape shop (smoke shop) to ask about kratom and hear how it is being sold to the public.

I posed as a customer who had no idea what kratom is or what it does so I could hear the sales pitch – and understand how the drug is being marketed. Here’s what I was told (and what the truth is):

Kratom makes you feel calm and is good for anxiety.

The store owner told me that in low doses, kratom boosts energy. In higher doses, the effects of kratom are similar to the effects of opiates, and ease anxiety. I was told there is no risk of addiction and that kratom is completely safe.

Anxiety is a very common mental health problem. By marketing kratom as an answer to anxiety, store owners prey on people who need help from a mental health provider. This is a dangerous and manipulative message that steers anxiety sufferers away from traditional care and recovery.

Kratom is made from a natural plant, and, as a result, is completely safe to take.

This is an absurd claim. Heroin and opium are made from poppy flowers that also occur in nature. Please don’t believe that a naturally-occurring plant is safe or good for you. Poison ivy is a natural plant. Peanuts also grow in nature, yet millions of people are so allergic to them that they carry Epi-Pens to prevent a fatal allergic reaction. Nicotine is a plant, too. Smoking causes cancer. Not every plant is safe!!

People in chronic pain benefit from kratom without the risk of taking opiates or other addictive narcotics.

There are many people who swear that kratom is an effective pain reliever. Since kratom is said to impact the opioid receptors in the brain, this may be true. Prescription opiates have been used for years to treat pain. But, at what cost? We are in the throes of an opiate epidemic, after all.

Kratom has been shown to be addictive. The vape shop owner assured me that kratom was a safe alternative to pain relief. Statistics related to kratom-related deaths and overdoses tell a very different story.

Kratom can help an opiate addict avoid withdrawal symptoms.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “ In a study testing kratom as a treatment for symptoms of opioid withdrawal, people who took kratom for more than six months reported withdrawal symptoms similar to those that occur after opioid use. Too, people who use kratom may begin craving it and require treatments given for opioid addiction…”

Truth. Kratom IS addictive and chronic users experience withdrawal symptoms like opiate withdrawal.

My undercover mission showed me that the person standing behind the counter was no different than a drug dealer. A friendly face promised me a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. But, nothing he said was true, and THIS is what he would look like if he took his mask off:

How Smoke Shops and Kratom Are Changing the Face of Addiction in America

The Truth about Kratom.
What the local smoke shop won’t tell you about kratom.

Kratom is listed as a “drug of concern” on the United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) website. Kratom production is completely unregulated. Nobody knows how much kratom is in a pill or vial of liquid, and nobody knows what other chemicals are mixed into the drug.

Kratom has not been studied long enough for valid information about drug interactions to be made. Taking kratom with another drug, including prescription drugs, can cause overdose and death.

Kratom takes effect quickly after ingestion. Here are the things that one may experience after taking the drug:

Severe reactions:

  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Respiratory depression (trouble breathing)
  • Drug-induced liver injury
  • Death

Common reactions:

  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Itching

If you have a problem with opiate addiction or kratom addiction, you can recover. Please find a treatment center, like Breakthrough Recovery Outreach, that can help you break the cycle of addiction, face your mental health concerns, and enjoy a better life.

If You’re Done Living With Addiction, CALL US at (770) 933-6846.

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