Meet The “Kratom Warriors” Who Say This Plant Will End The Opioid Epidemic
By the time Courtney True found the Reddit thread about kratom in December 2016, she hadn’t touched an opioid for 48 hours. She was in bad shape — stomach cramps, diarrhea, jitters, hot sweats, cold sweats, and body aches that made even her teeth hurt. Sitting at her kitchen table hunched over a laptop, she recalled, “I felt like I wanted to rip my skin off and step out of it.”
True had been dependent on opioids since she was a 14-year-old growing up in Mississippi, when a doctor prescribed her Percocet to treat chronic migraines. By the age of 24, she was shooting OxyContin. A decade after that — after moving to Maine, becoming a nurse, and having two kids — the Drug Enforcement Administration cracked down on sketchy online pharmacies that sold pills, and True started on heroin.
She’d tried to quit many times over the years, using every conceivable remedy for the misery of withdrawal — Imodium A-D, quinine, valerian root. Nothing worked. So here she was, reading earnest online testimonials about an obscure leaf from Southeast Asia.
“It seemed kinda seedy, it seemed kinda underground, and kinda maybe like something I shouldn’t be doing,” True, now 41, told BuzzFeed News. “But at that point I was desperate enough to give it a try.”
Her husband drove her a half hour to a smoke shop in downtown Portland. She bought a little of everything: a small bag of crushed kratom leaves, some capsules, and two tiny bottles of extracts, all for about $100.
Back in the car, heater blasting, she swallowed some of the capsules and downed a bottle, then sat waiting, skeptically, to feel something like a high. She never did, but within 20 minutes her withdrawal symptoms had faded away. "It was like a fog had cleared," True said. "They were just gone."
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