Aug 11, 2023
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirm that the number of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. has increased by nearly 30% from 2019 to 2020. More troubling, that figure has actually quintupled since 1999.
The effects of the opioid epidemic are widespread, and while more resources are being allocated to the issue, overdoses continue to occur at a staggering rate. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notes that nearly 75% of drug overdose deaths in 2020 involved an opioid.
As the dangers of opioids are better understood, many people living in chronic pain have turned to alternative therapies in an effort to manage their symptoms. One of the most popular options – an herbal substance known as kratom – is currently available in most states and does not require a prescription. But while kratom users often tout the herb’s many benefits, health officials warn that as an unregulated therapy, it can lead to dangerous side effects, addiction, and even death.
Kratom is a tropical tree known as Mitragyna speciosa that is native to Southeast Asia. Part of the coffee family, kratom is primarily grown in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Kratom can be consumed in a number of ways:
In Asia, kratom is used to improve work performance or calm anxiety/reduce stress. At low doses, kratom typically has a stimulating effect. At high doses, the herb can have a pain-relieving effect similar to opioids.
Kratom reportedly binds to opioid receptors in the brain, but with “fewer side effects,” according to WebMD.com.
Kratom has received media attention related to overdose deaths and been compared to opioids in terms of its potential for abuse. However, one of the most popular uses of the herb is actually to curb withdrawals and cravings brought on by addiction to various substances.
In fact, the Mayo Clinic notes that while research does not confirm any significant health benefits of kratom, the herb has been widely promoted for aiding in overcoming withdrawal from opioid medications by easing a variety of symptoms.
Other purported (but not necessarily confirmed by health officials) benefits of kratom include:
The Mayo Clinic cautions, however, that although kratom is a natural substance, it is not confirmed to be safe. Moreover, because kratom is not regulated and does not require a prescription, the herb can be used (often incorrectly) to self-treat a variety of conditions (from pain to coughing to diarrhea to anxiety and depression to opioid use disorder to opioid withdrawal, according to the Food and Drug Administration).
Kratom is a billion-dollar business in the U.S., according to National Public Radio (NPR). Vendors reportedly import more than 2,000 tons of kratom into the United States every month.
Kratom’s popularity has surged in recent years. In 2018, filmmaker Chris Bell released “A Leaf of Faith,” a Netflix documentary exploring the benefits or kratom from the perspective of a recovering opioid addict.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that 1.7 million Americans aged 12 and older used kratom in 2021. A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine also noted:
“Kratom use is particularly prevalent among those with prescription opioid use disorder, but it is also prevalent among people who use other drugs. Research is needed to determine reasons for use and potential dangers associated with adding kratom to drug repertoires.“
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirms that there are two main chemical components in kratom:
The FDA further notes that no regulated drug products – prescription or over-the-counter – currently exist on the market which contain either kratom or its two main chemical components. As a result of kratom not being lawfully marketed in the U.S. as a drug product, it remains unregulated. Therefore, kratom essentially exists in a grey area – for any type of ban to be put into place, action needs to be taken through state legislation.
Louisiana is one such state that is attempting to ban kratom while also classifying the herb as a Schedule I drug. Elected officials have introduced legislation known as HB14.
Kratom is currently illegal in six U.S. states:
Kratom users frequently tout the many benefits of consuming the herb. A simple online search will generate countless anecdotes from kratom users claiming that they have cured any number of ailments, with many citing an improved quality of life that was impossible through prescription drugs such as opioids.
The American Kratom Association states on its website that kratom is a “safe herbal supplement that behaves as a partial mu-opioid receptor agonist and is used for pain management, energy, even depression and anxiety.”
But health officials warn that kratom can be dangerous and even deadly. As the Mayo Clinic notes, kratom’s effectiveness in easing withdrawal symptoms have led researchers to study it as a potential treatment.
“The evidence suggests that rather than treating addiction and withdrawal, the use of kratom may lead to them,” the Mayo Clinic said.
The hospital cited troubling findings from a recent kratom study:
Additionally, the Mayo Clinic confirms that it is possible to overdose on kratom – just as is the case with pain medications and recreational drugs.
“The treatment for kratom overdose is similar to that for opioid overdose, and people experience many of the same treatment problems. Kratom has caused at least 36 deaths. Although people may enjoy the good feelings that kratom can produce, kratom has not proved to be an effective treatment for opioid withdrawal,” the Mayo Clinic said.
As kratom remains unregulated, tragic deaths believed to have been linked to overdoses are causing surviving family members to seek justice in civil court. In recent months, a number of kratom wrongful death lawsuits have resulted in multi-million dollar settlements or verdicts for family members who lost a loved one.
The $11 million kratom wrongful death verdict was awarded in a case involving Krystal Talavera, a 39-year-old mother of four who lived in Florida. Talavera collapsed in her kitchen and tragically died in June 2021.
The $2.5 million kratom wrongful death award pertained to the case of Patrick Coyne, a 39-year-old from Portland, Oregon, who was found unresponsive when paramedics arrived on the scene in June 2020.
Legal experts believe that both of these recent wrongful death verdicts are part of a wave of claims that will be brought by families who lost loved ones in apparent kratom overdoses. Although the $2.5 million damages award from Washington is the first of its kind in the U.S., manufacturers, sellers, and other kratom businesses may continue to face wrongful death civil lawsuits – particularly while the herb remains available throughout the United States despite being unregulated and unclassified.
When someone dies due to negligence or carelessness by either a person or an entity (like a kratom manufacturer), the surviving family members may choose to bring a wrongful death civil lawsuit. Kratom wrongful death claims can help your family secure justice as well as financial compensation for the unspeakable loss endured.
By filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you are indicating to the alleged at-fault party that the victim would otherwise be alive if not for such gross negligence. Wrongful death claims can result in substantial cash settlements or jury trial verdicts.
Dordulian Law Group’s (DLG) kratom wrongful death attorneys will aggressively fight to recover any and all applicable damages for your family’s case, such as:
In a wrongful death claim, “loss of consortium” is a legal term which applies in certain situations. For example, if a spouse or registered domestic partner is deprived of the companionship and intimacy of a living partner due to another person’s negligence, your kratom wrongful death claim may include loss of consortium damages.
As more kratom wrongful death case decisions are announced in the media, families of loved ones who died in apparent overdoses are choosing to fight for the justice they deserve. Wrongful death cases against major corporations and businesses can be complex and often involve uphill battles. That’s why choosing an experienced and proven wrongful death attorney to handle your kratom overdose lawsuit is so important. Without the very best legal representation available, your kratom wrongful death claim could be jeopardized.
DLG was founded by Sam Dordulian – a former prosecutor in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office with more than 25 years of litigation experience which has led to:
The loss of a loved one can never be repaired. But when a business or person is responsible for that loss, obtaining justice in a wrongful death claim may offer families a form of closure.
Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.
Sam Dordulian and his team of kratom wrongful death attorneys are dedicated to fighting tirelessly to secure justice and maximum financial compensation for families. Our aggressive, high-powered, and results-oriented wrongful death lawyers are available 24/7 to discuss your kratom overdose case confidentially and without any obligation.
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