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Is Kratom and Suboxone Safe for Addiction Treatment?

Suboxone and Kratom are two seeming miracle solutions to the opioid epidemic. One prescription. One plant. Articles and stories abound that claim Kratom or Suboxone is the cure for opioid and heroin addiction. So, some people may think that taking both, together, is safe.

Perhaps the better question is this — should Kratom or Suboxone be used to address opioid addiction at all?

Kratom and Suboxone: A Brief Description

For some, Kratom is viewed as the safe, herbal alternative to avoiding withdrawal symptoms when they kick heroin. While it is isn’t a direct opioid, Kratom does affect the brain in very similar ways to that of natural and synthetic opiates. Many users claim that it produces just the right amount of high, provides mental clarity, and helps them stay off of other, more damaging opioids.

As an herbal supplement, Kratom promises a natural lifestyle with freedom from addiction. Understandably, more and more people have grown weary of the addictive properties of prescription drugs. And yet, the FDA has recommended banning sales of the plant-based supplement and schedule it as an illicit drug.

Prescription drugs are one of the primary reasons for the ongoing opioid epidemic. Suboxone has come under more scrutiny because of the fear of prescription drugs, not to mention the misleading addictive qualities associated with opioids. As we’ve detailed before, Suboxone is a partial opioid that produces physical dependence, not unlike other opioids. While withdrawal from Suboxone isn’t quite as acute as heroin and other opioids, it does last longer and is maybe even more difficult to quit.

Many public health professionals praise Suboxone’s role in harm reduction. Many of these professionals and public workers are willing to trade heroin addiction for Suboxone dependence.

Are Suboxone and Kratom Safe for People in Recovery?

There is very little research available on kratom. Kratom is a very new substance in the United States. As more research is conducted over the next few years, we’ll be able to judge kratom’s health value more precisely.

However, just because something is legal, and just because something is not harmful to the majority of the population, it does not mean that it can’t be a problem for people who are, and who have been, addicted to opiates.

There are differences between dependence and addiction. The short version: dependence is when someone needs a substance to feel or perform in a normal capacity. Without the drug, the person experiences withdrawal symptoms.

Addiction refers to a mental disease. When someone is addicted to a substance, relationships, job performance, happiness, and mental health all suffer. You can become addicted to something without experiencing physical dependence. The risks of addiction increase when substance dependency becomes a factor — as both kratom and Suboxone have demonstrated.

Many people in recovery who have remained sober and clean for months and years understand that just because something is legal to use recreationally, it does not mean that it is safe to use. These are personal decisions that each ex-opioid user must decide for themselves.

During the opioid epidemic, nearly 80% of heroin users report having misused prescription opioids first. Some public health experts have gone as far as to state that prescription drugs are a gateway to heroin addiction.

Recovery: Drug Use Is a Symptom

Heroin and opioid use are symptoms of other underlying issues. For many in recovery, suboxone and kratom are viewed as replacing one addiction for another, much like how a heroin addict may drink more alcohol to try to quit heroin. No matter what substance, an addict is an addict.

The real gift of sobriety is living life without being held captive by anything or anyone. Being sober and in recovery means more than just not using your drug of choice. It is facing life on life’s terms, discovering happiness through healthy activities and relationships, and going through the ups and downs of life with a clear mind. Boardwalk Recovery utilizes different therapeutic models in order to ensure that each client is able to accomplish these goals.

The drug isn’t the problem; living life is hard. For too long, as a former addict myself, I sought to escape my problems, my emotions, and my trauma by using heroin, alcohol, and other drugs. Therapy, support groups, 12-step programs, and learning new coping skills have made life worth living, sober, for millions of people.

So should you use Kratom or Suboxone? It’s up to you.

What kind of life and how you want to live it, though, is also up to you. If you want to experience life without being handcuffed to a drug or a substance, then that is your choice, too.

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