Natural kratom gains attention as a possible solution to opioid addiction, with science explaining how

published on October 17, 2017 by Travis Lupick in The Georgia Straight

As the worst overdose epidemic in Vancouver’s history continues, some addicts desperate for a path off opioids are finding relief in a fascinating plant from Malaysia

Using heroin was always dangerous, but not like it is today. Since fentanyl arrived in B.C., an addiction has become a daily game of Russian roulette.

The surge in overdose deaths—more than 1,500 projected for 2017—has sent a lot of users looking with a renewed sense of urgency for a path off opioids.

In recent years, B.C. doctors have put more people on methadone and Suboxone. But those traditional treatments don’t work for everybody. And even when they do, many people don’t like that a prescription to one of those drugs requires daily visits to a pharmacy.

In Vancouver, where B.C.’s fentanyl crisis is killing more people than in any other jurisdiction in Canada, one possible alternative that’s gaining chatter is Mitragyna speciosa, or kratom.

Patrick Smith is a well-known member of the Downtown Eastside arts scene. He’s been down the road of addiction before.

“I was clean for 16 years,” Smith began. “Then I had this kidney stone, had this chronic pain going on, and, before I knew it, I was up to six Dilaudids a day.” Dilaudid is the brand name for hydromorphone, a prescription painkiller similar to heroin.

“I got to get off these,” he said he told himself. “I’ve been a heroin addict and I don’t want to go back there.”

Smith scoured the Internet for alternatives.

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