The Food and Drug Administration says kratom, a herbal supplement, can be just as addictive and deadly as opioids.
Despite the warning, it's still easy to find and legal.
"It mimics opioids," said pharmacist Ira Katz from Little Five Points Pharmacy.
"It's been around for hundreds of years, usually from somewhere in southeast Asia,” added Katz “It's a plant that in low doses has stimulant effects. It's is used as an appetite stimulant, and moderate-to-high doses of kratom can have an opioid effect.”
Because of its similarities to opioids, kratom has become the latest obstacle in the fight against the opioid epidemic.
"This illness is so powerful that people are turning to it because they can't find their regular pain medications," said Dr. Gary Byrd from High Impact Training and Counseling.
Byrd says many of his clients are addicted to opioids and because kratom doesn't require a prescription and is readily available on the internet, at health food stores, and smoke shops, it has become their drug of choice for a cheap fix.
"It’s causing havoc because it's a cheaper form of an opioid, it's a natural opioid. It's one of those things that no one is talking about, but kratom is one of those things we need to add to our beware list," added Byrd.
Earlier this year the FDA reclassified kratom as a Schedule 1 drug, and like other opioids it is said to be highly addictive, but Katz says that's not the only concern.
"Recently the FDA issued a mandatory withdrawal of the product from the manufacturer and that's due to batches that were found to have salmonella," said Katz.
If you think you or your loved one might be addicted to kratom there is help. The Georgia Crisis Hotline is available 24 hours at 1 (800) 715-4225, and they can help you find a specialist to treat your addiction.
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