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Is Kratom an Opioid? The FDA Says Yes

is kratom an opioid

The Food and Drug Administration put out new warnings about kratom, saying that the drug is best classified as a substance with “opioid properties” and linking it to 44 deaths. Previously, the DEA took steps to outlaw the drug altogether but halted their actions as Kratom advocates led campaigns against the agency involving petitions and phone calls.

Kratom has become popular among people with opioid use disorder trying to get clean from heroin and other potent, addictive drugs. People with chronic pain, depression, and a myriad of other diseases. Often, sellers of Kratom market the drug in capsule, powder, and tea form. People claim it helps ease the symptoms of a wealth of diseases.

While these benefits sound great, there are many people in the addiction community that believe that replacing opioids with Kratom is a dangerous and unsustainable practice. For years, people in Southeast Asia similarly used Kratom – as a substitute for opioid drugs and to ward off symptoms of opiate withdrawal. However, once a person has taken Kratom for a few months, they will find they have developed a tolerance, requiring more of it to get the same effect. Long-term Kratom users have described withdrawal effects that are similar to opioid withdrawal. Quite interestingly, Kratom consumption is banned from the same countries that tend to export it. It is considered an addictive drug there.

“We feel confident in calling compounds found in kratom, opioids,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told the media last Tuesday. The FDA has been paying careful attention to the research and says that recent computational modeling and on scientific literature and reports of adverse effects in people, he said. The new data has made agency concerns about kratom’s “potential for abuse, addiction and serious health consequences, including death” seem much more urgent. In other words, the FDA is signaling a ban on Kratom very soon, and advocates can’t argue with the FDA’s data set. The agency has been able to link 44 deaths to Kratom since 2011.

The new FDA analysis will help the Drug Enforcement Administration decide whether to classify kratom as a controlled substance. However, the agency has said it could take months..or even years to make that decision.