Why banning Kratom is not the answer
We should not be hoodwinked into mistaking a ban for actual beneficial policy, or conned into believing eliminating kratom would alleviate or even address drug-related issues so impactful to millions of American families. -Ryan F. Estevez*
As psychiatrist and psychopharmacologist who has worked for years in emergency rooms, community health centers, and prisons, I am well versed in both “good” drugs that help people on a daily basis, and “bad” drugs that are epidemically abused and create a tremendous burden on society. As the acting medical director for a large residential and intensive outpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, I am also intimately familiar with drugs of abuse and how addiction ruins lives. Kratom is not one of these drugs (I have yet to admit anyone for kratom-addiction) and efforts to ban it are misguided and wasteful. In fact, there is emerging evidence that kratom can be helpful in alleviating symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Our collective response to any potentially beneficial plant or substance should be to learn more about it and empower government and private institutions to research and study, not ban it! With mental health and substance abuse services so limited, underfunded, and ubiquitously unavailable (particularly for the poor), I am all for anything that might help people break away from harmful addictions.
*Ryan F. Estevez MD, PhD, MPH is the Founder of the Tampa Bay Neurobehavior Insitute and the Medical Director at Turning Point of Tampa, Inc. He holds Board Certifications in General, Forensic and Geriatric Psychiatry, Addiction Medicine and Psychosomatic Medicine. Dr. Estevez has no financial ties to Kratom, nor would he benefit financially from Kratom remaining legal or being banned.