“I started taking kratom roughly five years ago,” *Shane tells The KIND.
Kratom is an herbal drug derived from a tree that grows in Southeast Asia. According to online substance information hub, Tripsit, kratom has historically been taken as a recreational drug, a painkiller, medicine for diarrhea, and treatment for opiate addiction.
That last application is where Shane first dove in.
I had just finished an opiate rehab program, and coming off of the Suboxone was about as rough as coming off of the opioids. I worked at a head shop at the time, and we carried kratom in the store. I had unlimited access to it. It just kind of became part of my daily routine.
At the federal level, kratom is uncontrolled. It is also on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of drugs for concern. In Indonesia, one of the countries where it is cultivated, processed, used prolifically by locals, and eventually exported around the worldit has been illegal to plant since 1943.
In May of this year, kratom was banned in Alabama. A similar bill, which cites a high potential for abuse, is being shopped around in North Carolina. In New York and Florida, kratom is sold alongside kava and yerba mate and cold brew coffee at cafes; is as ubiquitous, like pressed juice.
Elsewhere around the country, it is sold at smoke shops, like the one Shane worked in, under brand names that include VivaZen, American Kratom, Captain Kratom, Experience Kratom, and Phoria.