Meet the Herb That Eliminates Opioid Withdrawals

Most people think they know what drug withdrawal looks like. Movies and TV tend to depict it as a 30-second montage of fever dreams, shaking limbs, and gut-wrenching entreaties for one last hit. Unfortunately, apart from the half minute runtime, this representation is not terribly far off for opiate withdrawal. The symptoms last for weeks, followed by years of rehabilitation… on a standard treatment plan, that is. We talked to John Dee, a licensed recovery coach, to unpack the cornerstone of his business: an herb called Kratom.

A seemingly endless number of positive testimonials point to kratom as the solution to their opiate withdrawal-- they paint a picture of their recovery that no longer contains a period of intense physical suffering, or subsequent addictions to the treatment drugs. John's company, Red Devil Kratom, offers the herb at higher quality than it can usually be found. He spoke to us about his journey into the kratom industry.

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NSFW How did you first learn about Kratom?

JD I'm a recovering opiate addict-- I've been clean and sober for a long time. I went to school five or six years ago, and now I'm a certified recovery coach. They didn't teach us about kratom in school, but if the client wants some kind of holistic medicine for addiction, you are allowed to google options for them. So that stuck in my head, and I was wondering-- what kind of natural medicine can help an addiction? And I came across this herb called kratom, and I read all these wonderful things about it and I said, “Let me see what's going on with this stuff.” I bought about $80 worth and I gave it all out for free. I started getting this wonderful feedback-- people saying I got them off heroin, off pain pills... one lady said it helped with her PTSD, sleeping problems, anxiety, all kinds of problems. And I said, wow, this stuff really works. So I did it again, and this time I sold a little bit just to make my money back. And it’s been going great ever since.

NSFW What are some of the main medical benefits of using kratom regularly?

JD The reason I didn't get clean sooner is because of the withdrawal symptoms from the opiate. It pretty much stops opiate withdrawals. That’s the problem-- people don’t want to get off opiates because they don't want the withdrawal symptoms. They don’t want to go through the sickness, they don’t want to go through weeks and weeks of sitting in bed and shitting their pants all the time, not able to eat, not able to sleep, restless leg syndrome. Kratom pretty much eliminates all that stuff. It's used for PTSD-- a lot of military people and retired cops use it for pain. Most of my clients are elderly, they got hooked on painkillers-- it's used for fibromyalgia, so instead of taking a painkiller, they take kratom. We also work with CBD and Cat Claws. 

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NSFW Can you live a relatively normal life while you go through your withdrawal?

JD My cousin was coming off heroin. He called me a day after he was withdrawing and said, “John, I need your help.”  I said, “Alright, but don't bullshit me, if I come there I'm gonna help you, but don't lie to me.” I went over and gave him a spoon of kratom. That same night he got up and went to a meeting with me. The next day he got up for work and met with his family.

NSFW How long has this been used in the US?

JD It's been used for about 20 years, but it just started getting really popular after the FDA started slandering us. Every time we hand them new studies from universities, scientists and doctors, they pretty much shut us down. It stinks. They don't want us. Evidence, medical facts we give them, they just deny it. They tried to ban us last year. But we submitted a paper with 400,000 signatures to the White House, as well as all kind of medical evidence about its effectiveness and safety. Last year the FDA turned it over to the DEA, and the DEA dropped it. But they're always trying. The worst thing that can happen is you take too much of the stuff and you throw up.

NSFW So given the amount of support its getting, why are the benefits of it not as widely known or understood as it ought to be?

JD The FDA doesn't want it. We are taking a lot of money away from the pharmaceutical companies by getting people off these harmful drugs. Every person I get on kratom gets to avoid detox, as well as outpatient or aftercare rehab. I just eliminated all these fees that the government makes money off of, so of course they don't want us, of course every time we make some sort of good press about it, they try to shut us down. We had a lot of problems with people in the pharmaceutical industry closing down our credit card processor, and we went down for about 3 months. These are some really powerful people, and they have tons of money for lobbyists-- they put through a law so we can’t use domestic credit card processors. They shut down every one of my processors until I found a new one that’s a bit safer. I keep pushing because I know I'm helping people.


NSFW How does kratom feel when you use it?

JD It depends on which strain you have; they all can be used for pain and withdrawal. You’ve got the green strain, which is more of an energetic euphoria, focused, ready to rock-and-roll. And then you have a red strain, which is more of a sedative. It’s painkilling, relaxing; it also helps with fibromyalgia and related conditions. White vein is more of a stimulant. It’s also a little euphoric, like you just drank 5 cups of coffee. But not the jittery feeling that you would feel from coffee, just the energy. And believe it or not, the kratom plant is actually a cousin of the coffee plant.

Red Devil Kratom has over 25 different strains. So what makes us different than most companies is we are the owner of a king strain, which we branded. Now that kratom is in such high demand, people are picking the tree pretty early and not letting it grow to its mature stage. But the trees we have are all mature plants, and we also dry them indoors out of the sun. These two factors give our king strain the highest potency. Most people take half as much as the usual dosage from our plants.

NSFW Why is kratom a better option for treating opioid addiction over regular treatments?

JD For one thing, it's not addictive. No one has ever died from kratom alone. It's natural and wont hurt you, you can't overdose on it, there are no withdrawal symptoms from it when you start getting off opiates. It’s just an all around a better alternative. I was on suboxone a very long time ago. Suboxone or methadone are the things they get you on for opiate withdrawals, those alternative pharmaceutical drugs they try to push on you. The thing with Suboxone is the withdrawal symptoms are ten times worse than just getting off the drugs themselves. And they're pushing it every day, it's a billion dollar industry, these rehabs and these doctors are pushing it all the time.

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NSFW As a licensed recovery coach, what do you wish people knew about kratom?

JD I wish they knew more about it, I wish they'd let our clients try it, I wish people were more educated about it. By law, we can't suggest it to clients. If they tell us they heard about kratom, I can give them some feedback on it. That's the thing with a recovery coach-- we can try to guide them in the right way, but we have to wait for them to bring it up.

NSFW When people do go looking into it, what should they research first?

JD They should research, “Kratom Saved My Life”, kratom success stories, or #iamkratom. You'll see, holy shit. I wish people knew more about the benefits, and how what the FDA and the pharmaceuticals are telling them is a bunch of lies.  

So although the FDA is against its use, it’s hard to imagine that an opiate addict has much to lose by trying it, given the alternatives. The US Department of Health and Human Services has declared an opioid epidemic-- in May of 2017, the FDA Commissioner called for “more forceful steps” to stem the opioid crisis, which included an appeal to the public for input on what actions the FDA should consider taking. We can only hope that as kratom continues to gather a grassroots following, these government bodies will begin listening to that input.