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Kratom Included in Areas of Concern in Trends Report

February 21, 2020

Besides confirming its earlier reports of substantial increases in positive drug test rates for methamphetamine and rising co-occurrence of fentanyl with several drugs, the latest data from Millennium Health suggest increasing use of the highly controversial substance kratom.

Volume 2 of Millennium's trademarked Signals Report, released this week, reports that kratom positive rates have doubled nationally and have increased in every geographic region. Moreover, individuals testing positive for kratom also were more likely to test positive for non-prescribed opioids, benzodiazepines and illicit drugs.

Perspectives on kratom in recent years have ranged from serious warnings about health risks to claims that the psychoactive substance, which appears to have both stimulant and opioid-like properties, can assist in addressing drug addiction and mental health symptoms. A public outcry led the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to halt plans several years ago to apply its most restrictive scheduling to kratom; the agency presently refers to the substance as a “drug of concern.”

The overall Millennium report, based on its proprietary database of urine drug screens conducted from January 2015 to November 2019, shows steep increases in methamphetamine and fentanyl positive rates while cocaine and heroin positives are declining. It also documents substantial increases in co-occurrence of fentanyl with cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine in its testing results.

A news release from Millennium quoted SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine clinical instructor Kevin L. Zacharoff, MD, as saying, “The data in this report reinforce the notion that there may be no 'silver bullet' for solving the drug overdose epidemic. It is multifaceted, and has evolved significantly, and will continue to do so.”

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