A dangerous high with a legal substance
A substance that is "legal" in most states has experts at Cincinnati Children's Poison Information center concerned that young people can use it to get high.
Two local moms teamed up to help other parents learn more about it. The pills are Kratom and pharmacists with Cincinnati Children's Poison Information Center want people to know what's inside them could potentially have dangerous side effects. They said it was so easy to get kids might be taking it and parents might not even know about it.
It's a substance that is available over the counter. People can buy it at head shops and gas stations. At a small convenience store it could be purchased for only about $5.
The first time Michelle Collinsworth said she heard about Kratom her daughter, Lindsay, got it while in treatment for addiction recovery, "Her drug of choice is heroin. I'd never heard of it before."
Now Michelle and Mindy Baird are two moms on a mission. With their own daughters now clean and sober they want other parents to know about Kratom. It's not just easy to get, it also doesn't show up on a routine drug screen.
Mindy said, "Heroin addicts are using it. They can snort it, they can drink it, and if they get enough of it, they can get high."
So high that experts at the Poison Information Center are getting regular calls about some of it's dangerous side effects which are sometimes just an upset stomach, but not always. There have been more serious effects like seizures, withdrawal symptoms if the drug is taken chronically as well as liver problems that have been reported.
Kratom is an herb that has been used in Southeast Asia for pain relief and as a stimulant.
Robert Goetz, a clinical toxicologist, said, "It's a tree that is in the same family as the coffee tree. As you take higher doses you get more of the sedation and the pain relief and the opioid-like euphoria."
With young people Goetz said the concern was, "If you take too much of it you pass out, stop breathing. There have been several deaths reported where it was found."
Goetz said the deaths weren't necessarily attributed only to Kratom but more research needed to be done to establish how and at what levels the drug was safe for use. Michelle and Mindy have now started a parents education group to help others learn more about potential pitfalls with addictions such as Kratom. Both are working with legislation to make Kratom more restricted for appropriate use.
Since Local 12 began promoting the story we heard from people all over the country who are advocates for Kratom. Local 12 talked to a representative from Ohio Kratom United who said when used appropriately it can help ease pain and help people in recovery from addiction stay clean. The Botanical Legal Defense also referred Local 12 to a website with more information supporting the use of Kratom.
CLICK HERE for a link to that site
CLICK HERE for a link to Mindy and Michelle's group called CARE: Community Advocating Recovery and Education.