What Florida Doesn’t Want You to Know About Kava and Kratom Bars

By Daniela Jimenez Roman

As a little girl I was diagnosed with chronic anxiety disorder. While a good therapist, routine and the right medication helped, sometimes I would find myself wanting to be able to go out with my friends and not have to drink or make my anxiety feel worse because of the crowds. 

I was looking for any remedy that would help me calm down and something I could sip on while not having to drink alcohol. One day, a friend of mine who experiences anxiety like I do, told me about a local Kava bar. At first, I was hesitant to try the drink because it seemed like a scam, but then I started doing some research on it and found really good benefits from the plant. 

The plants that form Kava and Kratom come from southeast Asian countries. Kava is known for its relaxing effects and Kratom for its different effects such as energy, social effects, muscle relaxation and focus. I began drinking Kratom for boosted energy and happiness and Kava for my anxiety. 

I noticed that the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg are known for having Kratom bars and advocating for them. With a Kratom/Kava bar at almost any corner of the street, I began to visit them frequently and engage with the people and the world of it. I noticed that a lot of these people struggled with anxiety and addiction, and that Kava/Kratom actually helped them with their addiction issues. 

Many of the people I met there even began telling me about their life story and struggles and how they could never abuse any substance again. But as I kept going to these places and kept seeing the same people over and over again, I noticed one thing. They were abusing a substance–Kava and Kratom. While many of the owners and people that work at Kratom/Kava bars will tell you that you can’t get hooked on the substance because it can’t impair you from doing your regular routine and the effects last a minimal amount of time, they are wrong. 

Yes, while the effects last a minimal amount of time and it can’t impair you, just like you can become addicted to anything, you can become addicted to the beverages. Many people advocate for it because it does help alleviate symptoms from withdrawal, just as heavy opioids and like vaping, like it did for me. But heavy consumers of the beverage will find themselves in physical withdrawals from it when consumed in large or heavy amounts. This is because they work with the opioid part of the brain and while some countries may have it banned, in some states, like Florida it is not U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulated. 

When taken in high amounts and abused, Kratom can have withdrawal symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions, seizures, nausea, sweating, dry mouth, constipation and increased urination. The dangers of Kava include shortness of breath, skin problems, dizziness and confusion.

After taking Kava/Kratom for an extended amount of time, after doing research, I decided that while it may have lots of good benefits for my mental health, it can also have catastrophic ones that balance them out. In the end, I decided to quit drinking Kava/Kratom for my personal best and mental health.

Kratom and Kava may have legitimate physical and mental health benefits, but both come with unique risks for consumers.

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