Kratom, Opiod Substitute

Legal Opioid Substitute Kratom, Benefits Outweigh Costs

Kratom, the legal and sometimes over-the- counter herb, is native to Southeast Asia and found on trees in the coffee family, where its medicinal use has been documented for centuries. It is from these countries, primarily Vietnam, that kratom is imported to the United States to end up on store shelves. The substance is usually shipped in powdered form to be consumed through capsules, food or tea. Users report an earthy taste of matcha or green tea.

The past two years have brought an increase in the popularity and accessibility of kratom, which offers users a safer and healthier alternative to more harmful, addictive substances. Kratom has been used in different parts of the world for a long time, but its recent trendiness in the United States amidst a national opioid crisis has sparked fresh debates on the drug’s possible benefits, effects and risks consumers might not be aware of.

Although it has been available for decades, consumption and sales of kratom in the United States has grown greatly in the past two years. This was, in part, due to the backlash against a 2016 DEA proposal to classify kratom with opioids like heroin. Those who use kratom for medicinal purposes responded swiftly, forming a National Kratom Association and drawing media attention to their cause. In an unprecedented move, the DEA reversed their decision, sparking interest in the possible benefits of kratom.


  • Last two decades has seen a sharped increase
  • Kratom has been used to combat the opiod crisis with success
  • Fatal overdose of kratom is virtually impossible

“We had to do a lot of our own research,” Ortiz said. “Not every kratom supplier is trustworthy, not all the research is accurate, and we don’t want to give people the wrong information.”

“I don’t think it’s an inherently dangerous thing. It’s just a slippery slope.” said Angie, a DePaul senior who tried kratom recreationally for the first time this summer. “The effects are pretty mild right away, so you start to feel okay taking more and more. I started off with one gram, which felt fine for me. After a few times, I was taking three grams to feel the same as when I first started. I noticed the effects start to change, and it went from awake and euphoric to more foggy and sedated.”

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