Addiction

2016-04-25 22.52.42

Kratom has been featured a lot more often in the news recently. As one blogger observed of these “media panics” over kratom:

“Ironically, while the media extol the virtues of medical marijuana, they have decided to make an herbal supplement derived from a coffee plant public enemy number one. So, why not go after coffee, too? The truth is most people ingest at least some type of “addictive” product like caffeine, chocolate, sugar, nicotine, and, if you believe the hysterical media, we use “addictive” products like lip balm and smartphones every day.

Rewriting the story to say “Kratom can be addictive just like chocolate or caffeine” just doesn’t have the same scare factor.  The truth is Kratom has been used safely for hundreds of years, but some irresponsible companies claim it has a “legal high” for marketing purposes.  The media is just as complicit in this irresponsible behavior when it hypes it up.

First, we need to define what addiction means. I think some clarification is in order because people tend to confuse addiction with physical dependence.”

Also, the shots being sold in gas stations contain MUCH MORE than kratom. Some contain phenibut, which in itself IS highly addicting if used more than 1-2 days a week. Other “energy shots” may contain many herbal combinations.

If you’ve never heard of kratom before, or if you are thinking of trying it, I suggest you steer clear of the “energy shots” sold in gas stations for first time use.

I feel like the shots are something that should only be used once in awhile and by experienced kratom users only. Every couple months or so, I like to try a new one and some are better than others, but I do prefer plain leaf powder to anything else.

There are two forms of kratom on the market today and it’s important that people who are unfamiliar with kratom understand the difference.

This is a kratom plant as found in the wild:

Kratom_leaf

And this is how the leaf looks after it’s been dried and powdered. The strains on the outside are all plain leaf powder. 

However, the small reddish strain you see in the middle is dry resin extract. 

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What this means is that the main alkaloids – mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine – have been extracted to make it more potent. But using the extracts comes with a price. Tolerance and withdrawal.

TOLERANCE

When using extracts, tolerance is increased quickly. Whereas most people have reported that using the plain leaf alone usually does not result in an increased tolerance. If a person uses the PLAIN LEAF instead of the EXTRACT on a daily basis and rotates the strains used, then one can avoid building a tolerance.

This takes mindfulness and awareness. Choosing kratom to supplement your health care is a decision that should be considered carefully and well thought out. Especially if you have had issues with substance abuse in the past.

For some reason I do not fully understand, some people abuse kratom. As someone who has been abstinent from hard drugs and alcohol for well over a year, I’m well versed in the program of recovery. I became an alcoholic at around age 14, was addicted to cocaine by age 24 and heroin by age 33.

But just getting sober does not mean that people won’t “switch addictions.” How many of us have attended AA or NA meetings to find people chain smoking, drinking 64 ounce sodas and eating donuts until the sun goes down? This isn’t healthy behavior either. 

People can abuse lots of things, whether it’s energy drinks, coffee, food, sugar or sex. So, some people abuse kratom. However, a majority of kratom users are responsible adults who lead healthy, productive lifestyles.

Speaking for myself personally, I bike a minimum of five miles a day. I tend to a garden that I have in my yard. I get up at sunrise every day and I make the most out of every single day. I am grateful for all the energy kratom has given to me to do these things because before, I was barely able to get out of bed.

If you use the plant daily for chronic pain relief, you will probably develop a dependence on the drug in the same manner as you would anything else your doctor would give you for pain. For example, I took drugs such as Gabapentin or Baclofen for a few years and there was no way I could just stop taking them cold turkey so my doctor had me taper off slowly.

So, we just want you to be aware that just because your doctor prescribes an FDA approved drug for your pain, that does not mean you will be able to stop taking it suddenly. This goes for antidepressant drugs as well. Anything you consume on a daily basis (sugar, coffee, prescription drugs, psychoactive plant material) can have this effect. We come to expect and accept it as part of living with chronic pain.

However, this is different from addiction. Physical dependence and addiction are not the same thing.

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Image @ http://www.naabt.org/addiction_physical-dependence.cfm

Addiction is when you take something and you develop a tolerance to it, and you also have withdrawal but you keep taking it despite negative consequences. Now, for those of us who have gone from being bedridden to being productive members of society as well as living a productive life, this is considered physical dependence, not addiction. The two terms should not be used interchangeably, even though they are confused.

Dr. Lance Dodes, an addiction expert, said in his book The Heart of Addiction:

“Alcoholism and other addictions are among the most important problems we face in our society. Yet if you look beyond pat ideas about their cause, such as “alcoholism is a disease,” nobody has really had an answer for why people with addictive behaviors continue to repeat them in the face of their awful consequences.

Virtually every addictive act is preceded by a feeling of helplessness or powerlessness. Addictive behavior functions to repair this underlying feeling of helplessness. It is able to do this because taking the addictive action (or even deciding to take this action) creates a sense of being empowered, of regaining control – over one’s emotional experience and one’s life.”

Throughout this website you will hear me talk about addiction. Addiction to food, addiction to cocaine, addiction to sugar and work and any thing that a person can become addicted to. Because the truth of the matter is that almost anything can be abused and as a result become an addiction. I argue that, like Dr. Lance Dodes tells us in his book, “Addiction arises within the person, not the drug.”

For example, people don’t stop to think about food as an addiction. Throughout American society we see people who consistently make poor food choices that result in their becoming diabetic or even developing heart disease. In fact, obesity makes a person more prone to have a heart attack.

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute:

“Being overweight or obese isn’t a cosmetic problem. These conditions greatly raise your risk for other health problems.”

“As your body mass index rises, so does your risk for coronary heart disease (CHD). Obesity also can lead to heart failure. This is a serious condition in which your heart can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs.

High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body in many ways. Your chances of having high blood pressure are greater if you’re overweight or obese.

Stroke

Being overweight or obese can lead to a buildup of plaque in your arteries. Eventually, an area of plaque can rupture, causing a blood clot to form.

If the clot is close to your brain, it can block the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain and cause a stroke. The risk of having a stroke rises as BMI increases.

Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is a leading cause of early death, CHD, stroke, kidney disease, and blindness. Most people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight.

WHAT DOES ALL THIS HAVE TO DO WITH KRATOM?

A lot. Because there are people in the medical community as well as government organizations who tell us through media reports that kratom is addictive and dangerous and I would like to address those claims.

Kratom has been used in Southeast Asia for thousands of years. Here in America there are chronic pain patients getting cut off of their pain meds every day. There are millions of Americans without health insurance. Add to that the fact that many people can’t tolerate the side effects of prescription drugs. That’s where kratom has been a lifesaver.

Many people were in so much pain before kratom that they could not get out and exercise, but some have reported feeling so much better with kratom that they are able to lose weight.

That said, America has a serious problem with obesity and while our food supply is tainted with processed junk, fake flours, HFCS, GMO’s and a ton of sugar we become addicted to junk food. No one wants to take a look at the elephant in the room. Each and every day people are poisoning themselves to death very slowly with the foods they eat and some of them don’t even realize it. But here comes kratom and the powers that be want to demonize it, just like they did with marijuana and we saw how that turned out. It’s Reefer Madness 2.0 with kratom.

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