The world of substance abuse is constantly changing. New drugs come around, new ways of using drugs, changes in laws etc. Every now and then I like to take the time to document some of these changes here. In this update I’m going to talk a little about a new(ish) substance of potential abuse called kratom, powdered alcohol, and a California proposition that would legalize recreational marijuana use.
If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t heard of kratom (kray-tum). It’s come up in the news a lot recently because the DEA recently moved to ban the drug in the end of September. Kratom is a naturally occurring herb that is typically used in powdered or pill form. Its effects on the body resemble those of opiates, though it is not an opiate. Some people use it to combat opiate addiction and/ or chronic pain, while others use it almost like coffee, to get up and going in the morning.
This is one of those interesting cases where it took regulatory bodies a while to catch up with something that has been widely available for a while. Until just recently, kratom was available over the counter at most smoke shops. At the end of the month kratom will officially be a schedule 1 drug, meaning that it will be illegal and is considered to have no known medical uses and severe potential for abuse and addiction. Other schedule 1 drugs include heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. This is likely a move that is bound to be temporary; an attempt by the DEA to eliminate a potential danger to the public while the drugs effects and abuse potential are studied. However, some opponents of this move argue that making kratom a schedule 1 drug will make it difficult for research to be conducted on its potential medical uses (1). For more on kratom, check out this brief segment I heard on NPR last week (2).
Lastly, a word of caution for those who may be using kratom: because kratom binds to some opiate receptors in the brain, drugs such as naltrexone, commonly used to combat opiate addiction may knock kratom off of those receptors and cause severe withdrawal reactions. Naltrexone, like antabuse for alcohol, is intended to be used in the absense of opiates, as a preventative measure against abusing opiates. Some kratom users may unknowingly mix kratom with naltrexone and find themselves feeling very ill.
Speaking of medical research being hindered by a drug being schedule 1, marijuana legalization is an issue again in California this election year. Proposition 64, if passed, would allow for the sale, possession, and recreational use of marijuana in California. Check out the following video for a quick overview of prop 64.
Opponents of prop 64 argue that the proposition could lead to marijuana being sold commonly in stores just like alcohol. This begs the question of what negative effects this could have on substance abuse and the potential for harm in children. For a more in depth look at proposition 64 check out this link: (3) .
A while back I wrote a blog about the recent invention of powdered alcohol (4). Since its creation, “palcohol” has received a lot of backlash from lawmakers and the general public. To date the substance is banned in 31 states, and California is on its way to becoming the 32nd. A bill proposing to ban palcohol was recently approved by the California state legislature and now only needs Governor Brown’s signature to become official (5).
Thanks for checking out my blog. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse and/or addiction, it may be time consider therapy / treatment. Give me a call if you have any concerns and we can talk about your options.