There is a new and potentially addictive drug legally sold as a tea across the nation, in local stores and on the internet. Most adults have never heard of it, but chances are that the teenagers in your neighborhood know all about it. The authorities are noticing too and it is currently on the federal watch list.
This new drug is called Kratom—pronounced kray-tum. Native to Southeast Asia, the drug is produced from the leaves of a tree in the coffee family. It has been used in tiny quantities by traditional healers for hundreds of years. It may have some pain relieving properties, but studies of side effects and dosage require proper research before a conclusion is made. Currently, Kratum is being abused because it has similar properties to opiates, like heroin, but is erroneously believed to have few side effects.
Though it is illegal in many parts of Asia, Kratom is now sold in America in pill form and as a powder that can be used as a tea. While the product may be from a natural source, this does not mean it is safe.
In small doses, it acts as a stimulant. In higher doses, it becomes a sedative, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.