It can have the same affect as opioids on the brain, yet anyone can buy it at the corner gas station or smoke shop.
Kratom is a plant from Southeast Asia that typically comes in pill or powdered form.
Researchers have been looking at the potential for kratom to treat opioid addiction.
However, our KELOLAND News investigation talks with an Aberdeen mother whose son overdosed on kratom, as overdose deaths from the substance continue to rise nationwide.
Kratom affects the same opioid brain receptors as morphine and can be addictive. It can also have a stimulant effect in low doses.
Proponents of the herbal supplements say it treats pain, anxiety and depression.
KELOLAND Investigates was able to easily find it in powder or pill form at at Common Sense in downtown Sioux Falls.
You can also buy it online. But there’s absolutely no regulation of the plant.
“It’s legal. You can get it at the corner gas station and at the smoke shops. But it should be a Schedule 1. It can be abused so easily,” Kathy Boschee said.
While the feds have called for it to be classified as a Schedule 1 drug, that hasn’t happened, although it is illegal in six states.
Millions of proponents say kratom is a good alternative to opioids to help relieve pain.
According to the CDC another 61 fatal drug overdoses were found to have kratom in their bloodstreams, although other drugs may have been responsible for the deaths.
“At the level Myles was using it, he was abusing it,” Boshcee said.
Kathy Boschee knows that all too well. Her son, Myles Brawner, of Aberdeen, suffered lasting brain damage after overdosing on kratom, combined with prescription medication in December of 2018.
“The combination of the two things had put him in cardiac arrest. He had multiple strokes. He was in a coma. We didn’t know if he was going to live or not.
Home video shows Myles Brawner waking up from his coma, where he says he loves his mom.
KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke spoke to Brawner in early 2019 about his kratom overdose on the phone. He had planned to do an interview with me about what he saw as the danger of this legal substance.
However, Brawner was never able to do that interview. He was in trouble with the law again for his ongoing drug use and he ended up going to Rapid City on work release.
That’s where his mother says the system failed to help treat his addiction and keep him alive.
You won’t want to miss Wednesday’s investigation “Slipping through the cracks,” as we look into what happened during the height of pandemic restrictions in South Dakota and what went wrong in Brawner’s case.