WKYT Investigates: The dark side of the controversial kratom

Published: Mar. 19, 2018 at 5:43 PM EDT
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Three men, recovering from substance use disorder, all had the same story about kratom: it's addictive and it gives you a high similar to any opioid.

"It feels like you took a handful of Lortabs," Jordan Wilson told WKYT's Miranda Combs. "It's really addictive."

The three men are graduates of The Isaiah House Treatment Center. They started using kratom instead of other opioids. It was a legal way to get high. "I was spending about $60 a day on it," Wilson recalled.

She suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a chronic disease that leaves her in debilitating pain. As soon as she found kratom online, she said she never looked back. "Immediate, immediate. I would say within an hour. It was faster than the pain medication I had been taking."

Patrick-Howard, along with thousands of others across the country, adamantly defend the herbal substance.

There are seven states that have banned the substance, and recently, the FDA sent out a memo warning people to avoid kratom, pointing to opioid properties inside the drug.

The CDC is linking kratom to a Salmonella outbreak effecting 87 people.

Those at the Isaiah House think the substance should be banned mainly because it's not regulated. And because they believe people taking it are addicted to it, just like any opioid. "Yeah, I was kidding myself," Scott Davis said. "I was like, 'I don't have a problem. This is legal. I'm allowed to do this. But it was ruining my life. It left me standing in front of a drug-infested hotel with my clothes in a laundry bag, homeless, in 30 degree weather."