How I Used Kratom To Get Over a Girl, Loneliness, and the Pandemic
Pick Your Poison
When people use drugs to cope, we typically look down on them. But at the end of the day we have to realize competing values. When a person with ADHD takes Adderall, most people don’t take any issue with this, as it’s a medication. The clinical efficacy of Adderall seems positive. For one, Adderall increases attention span, which is highly associated with wellbeing and academic performance — I’m not concerned about Adderall specifically, just drugs that increase wellbeing and functionality in society. No one prefers to be more unclear in thought, and Adderall remedies this. Prescription drugs have little stigma attached to them, but un-prescribed drugs besides alcohol have negative associations. But the fact is that people use alcohol to increase wellbeing at the cost of health. Such is the story with kratom use and thousands of Americans.
John Stuart Mill wrote about what’s bad about being a drunk: which is the failure to perform duties while drunk, not the actual drunkness. Considering I was not negligent on any duties while drinking kratom, lets get into why I decided to start drinking it.
Introverts are generally less happy than extroverts. Unfortunately I happen to be an introvert, and the pandemic has eroded some of the only social structures introverts had left: school and work. Not to mention that a very good social connection I recently made ended.
Having bad romantic encounters is bad enough, but worse yet are good encounters that stop without you wanting them to — note that nothing malign happened, but feelings can still be hurt. Now, there’s plenty of other ways to cope with this, but during a pandemic — and while in grad school — healthy options tend to take a back seat to practical ones. I highly advise you take those routes, full stop. I am not recommending drug use, merely challenging the norm that getting over rough patches is best done entirely sober.
I highly suggest you get medical help for any mental condition, and not to try to solve problems with things that are not prescribed to you. I knew eventually I was going to overcome my un-warranted confusion and sadness, but 2020 is the year of cutting corners. Fuck moderation, and fuck norms. This is a story of practical drug use, and I won’t lie and say it was the best coping option, or even in the top 20. In the tumultuous weeks following my romantic woes I remembered the effects of kratom, which at the time I had recreationally taken before and had stopped.
Kratom is a tea which was originally discovered in South-East Asia. Labor workers have historically, and still do, use the leaf sublingually, or in tea form to continue to work through aches and pains. Certainly their cases for drug use is much better than mine, as I sought to numb my want of human physical and mental affection, not pain.
So, the question is, how do we value the wellbeing derived from drugs during this time, given that opportunities to improve wellbeing via sociability are diminished during the pandemic? Especially drugs that effectively mitigate social needs, but likely have health consequences?
The Mayo Clinic issued a statement that kratom is not effective at curbing addiction to opiates. It won’t be known until double blind studies examine this question, but this is tangential to the question of whether or not kratom is safe to use recreationally. I think most of the warnings thrown at kratom is unwarranted. Equally unwarranted is the coverage the CDC’s report that kratom has killed more than a hundred people via overdose. Many media outlets have ran with this without reading the article, and didn’t notice that a large number of cases involved people who also had other opiates or drugs in their systems — a clue that kratom isn’t good at treating addiction, at least not greatly.
There’s reason to watch your consumption, and to never exceed 15 grams in a 24 hour period. There’s no way, unless you’re on a conflicting medication, in which case you shouldn’t be taking it anyway, that you’re going to overdose on this. In fact, in talking to more experienced kratom users you will find that no one really overdoses on just kratom — you’d puke your guts out long before that. Some evidence shows that kratom use does not cause respiratory depression — the way other opioids kill.
So, you’re not going to die with moderate kratom use.
Phenomenologically kratom feels like a small dose of opiates. Its effects can be reversed by opiate antagonists like Narcan. Therefore we have reason to believe opiate receptors are bound by kratom. This is not great news for kratom drinkers, as this likely means it’s addictive, and may face bans or even illegalization at a future date. I’ve never had a problem stopping kratom use — beyond delaying cessation by a couple months. This should be a cautionary tale for anyone who has addictive habits, specifically opiate related ones. If this is you don’t take kratom.
I can’t speak broadly about what kratom does, as clinical studies are sparse, but I can speak with the authority of N=1.
Now what I find kratom does is decrease my need for socializing, or having a companion, romantically or platonically. It’s a comforting feeling, as if you’re suddenly okay with being a sexless hermit. No wonder considering a very common effect is lack of libido. This effect was instrumental considering these thoughts are intrusive, and ultimately circle back to loneliness, and the person I’d rather not think about. Ultimately I have to stop the cyclic thought loop of unsatisfied physical and mental bonding circling back to people I miss, or feeling like something is wrong with me for not being able to find someone right for me. And I have to do it without drugs. But what is it to anyone if I delay it for a month, and circle back at my problems after I have emotionally recovered and hedonically distracted myself with drugs?
It is a liberating feeling to not have the urge to message this person. And to abolish my want for my phone to go off and to see her name appear is exquisite. When I drink kratom I don’t care. Recognizing this feeling can exist, is rejuvenating.
These questions ultimately get around to the question of: should you feel bad for not seeing someone you like ever again? If you could take a pill to forget, to not feel the cavity they left in your life, would you? What is good in suffering over them? Indeed, a monk who watches his son die without sadness is looked upon as not respectable from the Western perspective, but for him, what a vantage. A mountain ascending above the stormy clouds below. Recognize they’re there, and notice you’re not the crackling lighting, or the howling gale.
I don’t consider myself to be like the monk, but considering the social isolation during these times I feel like taking kratom has helped to ease the brute fact that intimacy comes and goes, and there’s way to not feel overwhelmed by this. Sure I have to find a way to get to the destination without the drug, but I at least know it’s there on the map. This news alone is a boon for horribly lovesick individuals.
I want to end on a skeptical note, and indicate my full intent to quit kratom permanently after my current stash is gone. In writing this I wanted to give a clear account of the risks and benefits, and ultimately dissuade use. The short term costs are fairly little, but the long term ones are really unclear and potentially too large to make the benefits of any relevance for most people. In doing kratom you are really playing blind roulette, you can’t really see what the dice turn up, but you will feel good rolling them, and sometimes, that matters more.
Ultimately this is a story of flaw, and honestly just emotional immaturity on my part. But recognizing how our current behavior is inadequate, and really feeling that inadequacy is necessary for progress. In forming this habit, however, I’ve essentially swapped a large splinter for a slightly smaller splinter, but I’ve gotten this one out before.