Innocent Highs to Miserable Lows – My Experience with Kratom Products
Kratom products have been classified as a schedule one substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration. By September 30, 2016, over-the-counter distribution of Kratom will be illegal. All suppliers will be expected to remove kratom from their shelves. People are protesting because it is considered an alternative treatment for other, more dangerous drugs like heroin and prescription opiates. While true that it may not be as dangerous, kratom is still a strong substance. This is my experience.
Like so many recovery stories, I went to rehab in South Florida and decided to make the move and start a new life in the same area once treatment was over. I lived in a sober living home while I tried to restart my life. At the same time, I worked on my recovery through attending numerous AA and NA meetings per week and attending outpatient rehab. I was sober for months; then, a friend introduced me to kratom products.
The Beginning of a Love Affair with Kratom
We were out in West Palm Beach the first night I went to a Kava Bar and got Kratom. A single cup of the hot tea cost $10, a hefty price tag for someone just out of rehab and working in retail. It was the first time I had ingested any substance in nearly a year, and I had no idea what to expect. I was told it was an opiate, which I had never experimented with. I was sold on the fact that it wouldn’t appear on a drug test.
That first night, a group of friends and I walked all over with my dog. I felt weird, but i didn’t think much of it. I ended up leaving early and the entire ten-minute drive home felt like life was passing by in slow-motion. Then, I got home and cleaned like crazy. I felt weird, but I was intrigued. Even with a decent amount of sober time, I still felt compelled by things that would alter my state of mind.
I woke up the next day with no issues. No hangover. As a former heavy drinker, this was great. About a week went by when we decided to have a similar night. This time, we had two cups each and went out dancing. I was one of the one people who drove, so at the end of the night, I dropped off my friends and then drove back to the kava bar. I wanted more, and I decided to purchase two more cups. I then went home with my kratom, concealed in two innocuous to-go coffee cups, and a fresh pack of cigarettes. I was up until 4am cleaning, watching tv, and smoking cigarettes. This was the beginning of a four-month kratom-fueled binge.
Not a Day Went By Without Kratom
Within three weeks of my first sip of kratom, I was hooked. I can’t really say that I craved the drink physically, but I knew I wanted it. It was my nightly ritual, and I would usually have one or two during the day. It was a natural herb, so I wasn’t too concerned about side effects or the potential withdrawal.
I was spending an extraordinary amount of money on kratom. This was my first clue that it was a problem. Some days, I was getting 6-8 cups a day, at $10 each. That is over $500 per week. I was using a credit card and any money I could use to get kratom. I would forgo eating just to get a cup. The amount of money I spent was through the roof.
Trying to Quit
Having never been addicted to hard drugs, I was not familiar with physical withdrawal symptoms. So, when I decided to quit kratom, I didn’t even think about the symptoms. I made it through a day without drinking any, and while I had a few cravings, I thought I had it under control. I was so wrong.
That night, I couldn’t fall asleep. When I finally did rest, I awoke with the most uncomfortable feeling in my entire body. I felt like I needed to stretch, scratch my skin, and get up and move. The problem was that no matter what I did, it didn’t make the torturous feeling subside. The only relief I found was in the shower; so, I stayed there for about 3 hours that night, crying about my predicament. It was the most uncomfortable I have ever been. I felt lonely because no one knew about my habit. It felt like my blood itched and hurt, and there was nothing I could do about it. The next day I bought more kratom because the way I felt scared me.
Over the next several weeks, I continued drinking kratom, but substantially less for a few reasons. A) I couldn’t afford it. B) I genuinely wanted to quit because I was starting to read about the negative effects of normal use, I was ashamed of my addiction, and I simply didn’t want to be a slave to it.
I slowly weaned myself off of it. Some nights, if I tried too suddenly, I would feel the restless legs and panic settle in. I always had a cup on hand to drink if things got too bad, even if it was at 3am. Somehow I did it. One day I just didn’t need it anymore. A week went by with no withdrawal symptoms. I was somehow, gratefully, in the clear.
Making Kratom Products Illegal
I still don’t completely agree with making Kratom illegal. This thought is purely based on the fact that I think there are much more harmful substances out there, like alcohol. However, kratom products are no joke. I know first hand that they can take over your body. I spent thousands of dollars on it over just a few months. The end was unpleasant and not easy. Buyer beware of Kratom products.