Opioid Alternative Kratom Linked To 9 Deaths In Cook County

The federal government is moving to crack down on kratom, which some people use for chronic pain and to lessen cravings for opioids and alcohol.
The federal government is moving to crack down on kratom, which some people use for chronic pain and to lessen cravings for opioids and alcohol. Joe Raedle/Getty Images via NPR
The federal government is moving to crack down on kratom, which some people use for chronic pain and to lessen cravings for opioids and alcohol.
The federal government is moving to crack down on kratom, which some people use for chronic pain and to lessen cravings for opioids and alcohol. Joe Raedle/Getty Images via NPR

Opioid Alternative Kratom Linked To 9 Deaths In Cook County

A little over a year ago, Morning Shift took a look at kratom, an herbal supplement targeted by both the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration, yet sold legally in Chicago.

Kratom has been used as an cheap alternative painkiller and even a substitute for heroin. Kratom is also unregulated, as the FDA struggles to overcome roadblocks to banning it.

According to data obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times from the medical examiner’s office, nine deaths in Cook County have been linked to kratom.

Sun-Times crime reporter Frank Main joins the Morning Shift to break down why kratom remains unregulated and to explain the FDA’s fight to ban the substance.