Kratom Overdose Sparks a Lawsuit


Kratom is an herbal substance that can produce similar effects to opioids and stimulants. Kratom can be purchased at headshops, gas stations, and even online. The F.D.A. has not approved any uses for Kratom. Still, it has been reported people use Kratom to help when withdrawing from opioids and try to curb the cravings associated with withdrawing from opioids. Recently a twenty-three-year-old, Ethan, died from Kratom, and his parents have caused an uproar in the Kratom industry.

In late October, it was announced there was an extended lawsuit from the one the parents of Ethan initially filed. “Dana and John Pope have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against about a dozen people, companies, and organizations for manufacturing, marketing, and sale of Kratom.” They had found a to-do list in Ethan’s apartment after his death, and one of the tasks was “stop taking Kratom.” Before their son’s unfortunate death, the parents had never known what Kratom was or anything about it. Dana and John believed he was experiencing adverse effects of Kratom when he died.

“… the Kratom that is sold in the United States is ultra-concentrated and is more similar to heroin or other opioids.”

Kratom is marketed as natural and completely safe, but according to lawyer Matt Wetherington, “the Kratom that is sold in the United States is ultra-concentrated and is more similar to heroin or other opioids.” An expanded version of the lawsuit was filed in late October, even though the original was filed in May. Another part of the lawsuit also states the defendants “did not provide adequate warnings and instructions that an ordinary consumer would expect, and the inadequate warnings made the kratom products more dangerous than an ordinary consumer would expect.” The lawyers who filed the lawsuit want to send a message that Kratom is unsafe for human consumption, especially after many have died from overdosing on Kratom.

In April 2019, the C.D.C. released a report saying between 2016 and 2017, “there were 27,000 unintentional overdoses across 32 states.” In addition, U.S. health officials released a report in 2019 that Kratom was a cause of 91 overdose deaths in 27 states. Although most of those people have other drugs in their system, some including heroin or fentanyl, there were only seven deaths with only Kratom in their system. Also, the U.S. poison control center did a study in 2019 and found that there were 682 calls in 2017 about Kratom compared to the 13 they had in 2011.

Kratom, in low doses, acts as a stimulant, and in high doses acts as a sedative. According to the US DEA, it can be addictive and cause hallucinations, confusion, and delusions. Kratom can be sold as capsules, pills, or extracts, while some take the leaves and make tea, chew, or smoke them. Ethan had bought bottles of “O.P.M.S. Liquid Kratom” just days before his death. Liquid Kratom shots are exceptionally dangerous “because they are intended to provide consumers with higher concentrations of mitragynine, substantially increasing the risk of overdose and death,” according to the lawsuit.

Mitragynine can be isolated from the leaves of a psychoactive medicinal plant and is a naturally occurring indole alkaloid. Mitragyna speciosa is known as Kratom and can produce similar effects to painkillers. When using Kratom, there are essential things to know, so if you suspect a loved one of using it, you can act fast.

If someone is using low doses of Kratom and are experiencing that stimulant effects, the thing to look for is alertness, excess physical energy, and being unusually talkative. But when someone is using Kratom in high doses, they will experience sedative effects. A person using Kratom can also experience itching, sweating, nausea, vomiting, constipation, dry mouth, increased urination, drowsiness, loss of appetite, and tachycardia. There have also been people that have experience insomnia, seizures, hallucinations, anorexia, weight loss, and hepatotoxicity.

The F.D.A. is concerned about Kratom because it affects the same opioid brain receptors as morphine. Kratom also seems to have similar properties that expose people who use it to the risk of abuse, dependence, and abuse. Getting your loved one into treatment is essential if they are dependent and addicted to Kratom. It may be legal, but there are many similar dangers to Kratom as opioids. Reach out for help before it’s too late. Many, including Ethan, want to stop using Kratom but don’t know how to do it alone. Know you are not alone; Narconon is here to help.



Alina Snowden

Originally from Kentucky, Alina decided after changing her life that she wanted to help others understand the dangers of addiction and help families know what to do if their loved one is struggling. She now writes articles to spread awareness and positivity about how those with addiction problems can turn their lives around.