Yup. Nope. Maybe.: A Womans Guide to Getting More out of the Language of Men
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He boasts of a seemingly endless list of mothers, sons, friends, and relatives — all of whom, he claims, owe their sobriety to him and Red Devil Kratom. Dee nodded as James told of a year pill addiction, hard drinking, and a growing distance from his boyfriend, who thought that he had kicked the habit. Dee told James to wait for mild withdrawals before taking the first dose. To supplement the kratom, Dee stressed the importance of step programs. James headed home with several ounces of kratom in his pocket.
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The following morning, he started the regimen, gulping down the kratom with a glass of juice. Just a bit of cold sweats and some gastrointestinal discomfort. By Thursday, James had shattered his record of pill abstinence. James began composing a message to his dealer while looking up Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, his heart hammering in his chest. Somehow, the step meeting won out. James went to his first later that night and found comfort in the support network. Fellow addicts texted and called him to check up on his recovery. James had several numbers to call when cravings struck.
Dee, who regularly attends Narcotics Anonymous meetings, was one of them. Having passed the acute phase of withdrawal, James found that kratom relieved the back pain caused by years of working at a desk. The mood boost and relaxing warmth of kratom tempts James to redose more often than he thinks he should. James views kratom as a step-down substance: something strong enough to keep cravings in check but not strong enough to provide a true high.
Some within the recovery community frown upon kratom, believing that true sobriety requires abstinence from all mind-altering substances. Whether kratom is such a substance is hotly debated. Anything is better than that. K ratom is a murky business. Because it is relatively new to the American market, there is little scientific information about the effects of long-term kratom use for the treatment of opioid-use disorder.
Much of the information online has been produced by those who have skin in the game — vendors, users, pro-kratom groups — or by government organizations and lawmakers that tend to portray kratom as a dangerous drug with potential for abuse. While kratom remains legal in most of the country, the Food and Drug Administration warns consumers that the plant carries a risk of addiction, and in , the Department of Health and Human Services recommended a ban on the chemicals in kratom, which would make it as illegal as heroin and LSD.
Ultimately, the power to make a final decision about the scheduling of drugs lies with the Drug Enforcement Agency, which planned to place a temporary ban on kratom in but backpedaled after an outcry from kratom supporters. Online forums such as Reddit, whose kratom community includes over 75, members, contain a wealth of user reports. Some people claim to have used kratom for years and then stopped without significant withdrawal; others report withdrawal symptoms on par with opioids: sweating, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, depression and intense cravings.
Many users say a lack of information led them to believe that kratom was benign. Addiction specialist Dr. Mohamed Elsamra, who runs a medical detox in Westport, Connecticut, says that he has seen a slight increase in the number of patients using the plant over the last few years. Although he notes the similarities between opiate and kratom withdrawals, he says that few people have come to him to detox from kratom.
Ultimately, Elsamra is open to the idea of it as an opioid replacement. Erik Fisher, an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University. He makes an analogy to CBD, referencing a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association , which reported on labeling inaccuracies in products containing CBD, suggesting that the same could happen to kratom.
Perhaps most alarming, in April the FDA ordered a mandatory recall of at least 26 different kratom-containing goods from Las Vegas—based company Triangle Pharmanaturals, after salmonella was found in some of its products. Around the same time, the FDA also confirmed salmonella contamination in kratom products distributed by several other companies across the country.
More than once, U. Dee claims that a Google algorithm change bumped his website down places in the search results. As a result, his online business has slumped, and he laments that he now barely makes enough to sustain the operation. The CDC analyzed the number of deaths in which kratom was detected in postmortem toxicology testing or determined, by a medical professional, to be a cause of death. Of those who died and were kratom-positive, multiple substances were present in almost all cases. Fentanyl and fentanyl analogs were listed as a cause of death in more than half of the cases;.
Then benzodiazepines, prescription opioids, and cocaine. Kratom users took to platforms like Reddit to fume about the report and its coverage. Dee agrees with many others in the pro-kratom community that the media serves as an echo chamber for government-produced misinformation. But a month into recovery, he faced one of the most difficult tests of his sobriety: His parents were coming for a visit.
The relationship was fraught. His father had worked in a factory in Michigan for 35 years and only spoke to James about mountain biking and other athletic hobbies. The urge to use again began creeping into his mind. In a way, he thought he deserved it. The night before his parents arrived, James told his boyfriend that he was going to a cafe to catch up on some reading.
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He had arranged to meet his old dealer, who lived six blocks away in a family neighborhood with brownstone buildings and a police station at the end of the street. His tolerance demanded 15 at a time to get high. The pills lasted just one night; James had taken all 30 by the time his parents arrived the next day. He has never told his parents about his opiate addiction.
The relapse remained his secret. Even though acceptance of past misdeeds is integral to recovery programs, there was still something too embarrassing about the ease with which all of the self-improvement could be undone. James did open up to his parents about attending AA. Over dinner the night after his relapse, he exaggerated his alcohol problem, telling his mom that he wanted to try something new to cut down on his drinking.
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There was this unregulated plant that helped curb cravings, he told her. It also helped soothe the back pain that had long bothered him. His mom asked whether the plant was safe. James assured her that it was. His mom gave him money for the kratom. His dad sat silently. The car pulled up to the familiar brown brick apartment building in Brooklyn. James hopped out and jogged over to Dee, who was standing about 20 feet away.
When James came over, Dee gave him the usual stuff: bags of kratom and a hug. Since then, James has managed not to relapse. Instagram then shuttered the Red Devil Kratom page, which had over 5, followers; Facebook followed suit. Both were flagged for selling illicit items. He says that even his account on Tinder was canceled because it was linked to a blacklisted credit card. To supplement the dwindling kratom business, Dee has been focused lately on promoting CBD, a substance that is not without its own regulatory challenges.
For now, Dee and his Red Devil Kratom remain at the mercy of the regulatory agencies and tech giants.
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With the ever-evolving legal complications of kratom, Dee has no idea whether he will be in business next year. Is it really worth all these problems? Dee still believes it is. Kratom has given substance to his life, which was once fueled only by the pursuit of chemical bliss. The plant allows him to both serve and be needed. My dad was one of the only people with a good-for-life, go-anywhere American Airlines pass. Then they took it away.
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O n March 10, , a case was filed in the U. Rothstein v. American Airlines, Inc. For my father, it was a last-ditch effort to save his life. In the early s, American rolled out AAirpass, a prepaid membership program that let very frequent flyers purchase discounted tickets by locking in a certain number of annual miles they presumed they might fly in advance. My something-year-old father, having been a frequent flyer for his entire life, purchased one.
In , amidst a lucrative year as a Bear Stearns stockbroker, my father became one of only a few dozen people on earth to purchase an unlimited, lifetime AAirpass. A quarter of a million dollars gave him access to fly first class anywhere in the world on American for the rest of his life. He flew so much it paid for itself.
Other times, I remember calling his office to find out what country he was in. For several years, the revenues department at American had been monitoring my father and other AAirpass holders to see how much their golden tickets were costing the airline in lost revenue.