The most well known legal drug available is alcohol. There’s the bar down the street, the liquor store on the corner, and the 60-year-old bottle of wine at your parent’s house. Alcohol is a legal drug that is everywhere, making it all the harder for recovering alcoholics to stay sober.
On the other hand, most narcotics can only be obtained on a prescription basis, or are in fact illegal. However, there are certain substances that are legal, addictive, and marketed as natural. Recovering addicts and alcoholics need to be weary of such drugs, because while they may be a perfectly ok supplement for the non-addict to take, the addictive personality works differently. Some of these supplements and legal substances can be gateway drugs that lead addicts back to their drug of origin. Here are some to watch out for:
1.Kratom. Kratom comes from a tropical tree that is native to Southeast Asia. It is part of the coffee family and is indigenous to Thailand. It’s been used in parts of the world since the 19th century, and has recently made its way over to the Western world. In small doses, the drug acts as a mild stimulant, suppressing appetite and increasing energy. In large doses, the drug acts like an opiate, binding to the same receptors in the brain. Kratom can be purchased legally online or in smoke shops around the country, though some states have banned it.
Many ex heroin users and opiate addicts have switched to Kratom because it is marketed as a safer, less expensive, and legal alternative. It has been around for such a short time in the United States that it has not yet been regulated, though failed attempts were made to ban it last year. Though it may help opiate addicts wean off of harder drugs, and may indeed be “safer”, Kratom is still addictive. The effects are milder, but they are very much the same, and could easily lead an addict back towards their drug of choice.
2. Nyquil. If you’re sick with the flu or have a mild sore throat, Nyquil can be a lifesaver for the insomnia that goes along with these unfortunate symptoms. Though some may laugh at the suggestion that Nyquil is a potential drug for abuse, research shows otherwise. Nyquil has a small amount of alcohol in it, which can trigger certain recovering alcoholics, who are highly sensitive to the taste and effects of alcohol. Teens also abuse Nyquil by seeking after DXM, the active ingredient in Nyquil. DXM in large quantities can produce euphoric and psychedelic effects.
Thankfully, there are some alternatives medicines you can find at the drug store that don’t include alcohol or DXM. Talk to your doctor or local pharmacist if you feel apprehensive about having to use Nyquil for any reason.
3. Kava Root. Kava root is probably the least dangerous substance on this list because it is not physically addictive, nor does it produce a high that is as prominent as Kratom or DXM can. Kava is a mild sedative that mimics the effects of benzodiazepines. It comes from a tree crop in the Western Pacific, and has been used for centuries as a natural anesthetic, euphriant, and sedative.
The effects of Kava are different for different people. Many people do not experience any type of noticeable effect from Kava, and find it to be a waste of money. For others, it is highly sedating and can induce sleep in certain circumstances. The reason recovering addicts should be weary of Kava is because if it does have an effect, it will be similar to that of Valium, Xanax, or other types of benzos.
This can trigger the recovering addict to return to their drug of choice. However, some recovering addicts have found Kava to be a safer, legal, non-addicting alternative, and enjoy taking it on occasion. It is best to talk with a counselor or specialist who can provide better insight on the decision to take this type of supplement.
4. Marijuana. Though marijuana is technically illegal on the federal level, it is now legal for recreational purposes in certain states, including California. Marijuana is widely known for its sedating effects, and has proven to be an effective medical pain reliever for those suffering from various ailments.
Recovering addicts need to be cautious about marijuana because it is still a drug, albeit a legal one. It has mind-altering effects, and while it is not physically addicting, it has been shown to be psychologically addictive for many users. Also many addiction specialists and doctors have argued that marijuana is in fact a gateway drug for teens and other users who eventually are turned on to other, harder drugs. Because of all of these latter factors, unless medically necessary, it is best for recovering addicts to stay away from marijuana during the recovery process.
When in doubt, talk to a specialist. If you are a recovering addict and aren’t sure about what over the counter supplements to take, and which to abstain from, its best to talk to a certified specialist, doctor, or pharmacist who can help. Though some recovering addicts have found these latter natural substances to be helpful to them, many more have seem them as a slippery slope towards full-blown relapse.
Are you or someone you know addicted to any type of substance, including the ones listed above? Talk to Linda Rose at Footprints Behavioral Health. Don’t wait to start your road map towards recovery; call 949-558-4723 today.