The Winchester Police Department is warning the community about the dangers of an herbal drug that is being sold in our area. Kratom is most frequently sold as an herbal tea. Investigators have tracked the sale of the drug to adult stores in Winchester, VA and Inwood, WV.
“We are very concerned about some recent cases involving Kratom. It’s often marketed as being a safe alternative to heroin or pain pills, but it is highly addictive and dangerous,” said Winchester Police Chief Kevin Sanzenbacher, and President of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition.
Kratom can cause psychotic symptoms like paranoia, hallucinations, aggressive or combative behavior, and seizures. Like opioid drugs, it can be highly addictive. Kratom is a tropical plant that grows in parts of Southeast Asia. The plant’s leaves can be smoked or steeped for tea to produce a stimulant or sedative effect, depending on the amount consumed. It can also be sold in gel caps or gum.
“We want to make sure parents are aware that this is much more than a vitamin or herbal supplement. Kratom’s effects on the body can include nausea, weight loss, insomnia, or respiratory depression, which could lead to death,” Sanzenbacher said.
Kratom is not yet regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as a controlled substance, but it is on the DEA’s list of “Drugs of Concern.” The agency cites a spike in poison control center calls involving Kratom use, including 15 fatalities nationwide from 2014 to 2016 that may have been linked to use of the drug. Kratom or its active ingredients are already illegal in six states. Florida and New York introduced legislation earlier this year to make it illegal to sell the substance.
The Winchester Police Department is working closely with the Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition to monitor the drug in our region. Friends and family members who have loved ones struggling with addiction are encouraged to seek help by visiting www.roadtorecovery.info for resources or to call Concern Hotline at 540-667-0745.