Researchers consider Kratom as a way to combat opioid addiction

Published: Oct. 27, 2017 at 2:00 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2017 at 11:22 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - It's an experience Patricia Sleven wishes she could forget.

"Everything hurts. You're sick. You're nauseous, throwing up, diarrhea," said Sleven.

That's what she goes through every time she tries to stop using opioids.

She's part of a skyrocketing number of Americans addicted to the drug. But she finds relief in a plant called Kratom.

It's a plant native to Southeast Asia that U.S. researchers are studying as a possible treatment to opioid addiction.

"We definitely believe this could be a solution or part of a solution to the crisis we are in," says Christopher McCrurdy, a Medicinal Chemist.

But the plant is not without its issues. Kratom has been banned in six states, including Alabama and the DEA has named it as a "drug of concern."

Christ Retan, the Executive Director of the Aletheia House, a Birmingham based drug rehab program, says they are always hopeful anytime they hear of a treatment that may work.

"But we should say right now there is no evidence this works and we don't want people taking medications that's not been proven to work," Retan said.

At the Aletheia House, Retan says they encourage clients to methods like Methadone and Suboxone that have been shown to work after decades of study.

Retan says they are long term studies he feels Kratom needs to undergo.

"Everything we take has benefit and risk and what we don't want to do is be in a situation where somebody think there's only benefit and doesn't fully understand the risk," Retan said. "So we need to have standardization and we need to have testing and we need to know the benefits and side effects of anything before we take it."

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