I am almost certainly the first person in Lapeer County history to spend time in jail as a result of Kratom use. What is Kratom? Why did I spend 24 hours in the custody of the Lapeer County Sheriff’s Department because of it? Both questions are difficult to tackle, but tackle them we will.
Kratom is a tree in the coffee family that is native to the tropics of Southeast Asia, and is of particular interest to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). It very nearly joined the likes of heroin and marijuana as a Schedule I drug in the fall of 2016, which would have meant that the DEA had found Kratom to have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” However, public backlash caused the DEA to slow its roll, leaving the legality of Kratom to be determined on a state-by-state basis rather than across the board fashion on a federal level. Unlike Indiana, Wisconsin, and Alabama, Michigan has not banned Kratom, and it can be purchased at about half-a-dozen locations in the downtown Lapeer vicinity.
I’m a loyal guy, and I bought my Kratom from the same vendor day after day, ever since kicking Suboxone in late-April. Scientific literature on Kratom is sparse. While it is not an opioid, it is opioid-like, and many a recovering opioid-addict like myself has experimented with it. In conjunction with large quantities of Imodium AD, it made my detox from Suboxone a relatively painless experience. I felt that I just couldn’t schedule time for a grueling withdrawal. So I used Kratom. But Kratom, like heroin and Suboxone, is habit-forming. Prolonged use of it comes with its own physical dependency, and thus its own withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation.
Truth be told, I was pretty doggone tickled when I finally broke the hold that Suboxone had maintained over me. I was so tickled that I didn’t even mind having become beholden to Kratom and Imodium in the process of gaining my liberation from it. I used both Kratom and Imodium all throughout the later months of spring, and the early weeks of summer. In the case of Kratom, I used it well after the judge told me not to.
In late June I began to have false-positives for fentanyl turn up in my drug screens. False-positives are explainable. They’re not as confusing as one might think, nor are they inherently damning. They’re the result of a more basic, lesser quality test (immunoassay, likely) being overruled by a more rarely used, but higher quality test (like gas chromatography-mass spectrometry). False positives raise important questions. Questions like: What’s really going on? The answer to which, in my case, was substance abuse.
I was salty as hell when I was locked up two Friday mornings ago. I’d say that I slipped into victim mentality but it would be more accurate to say that I stormed into it. I was wrong. I made decisions for which I was disinclined to accept consequences. Instead I attempted to rationalize my choices, and lament the way which the judicial system responded to them. Eventually, I had to confront the truth; I had to accept that I was wrong.
From a harm-reduction standpoint, Kratom and Imodium are logical alternatives to heroin and fentanyl. Yet when clean and sober living is the bar, Kratom and Imodium use fall well short. I wasn’t handling my recovery with the urgency that recovery requires. That was my mistake, and after considerable reflection, I now choose to own it. I was wrong.
Email Tim at tct@pageone-inc.com.