Our country is in the middle of a drug epidemic, and that train shows no sign of slowing down. We usually put most of our focus on the opiate epidemic, but there are other substances that should cause concern as well.
Recently, drugs like kava and kratom have been under scrutiny by citizens and lawmakers alike. And while some people claim that these substances are safe and beneficial, they are actually very dangerous for your health.
Read on to learn more about this dangerous substance.
What is Kava?
Kava is more commonly known as kava kava. It’s a small shrub that can be found through the south pacific. People extract the drink from the root and stems of the shrub.
To prepare kava, producers place the roots and stems into a cheesecloth sack and submerge it in water. Then they squeeze the juice out into a large bowl.
In Polynesian culture, kava is an important part of their social and ceremonial events. The drink operates on the non-opioid pathways in the brain, allowing people to experience deep relaxation and keep their mental alertness in check.
There has been an increase in kava bars and a lot of controversy around this drink.
Researchers have spent time over the past few years exploring the benefits that could come from kava. There are clinical studies that show that kava could be helpful to treat anxiety and relief the symptoms of anxiety and stress, like muscle tension or spasms.
In 2013, a study done by the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology looked at people with anxiety over a six week period. Half of the people being studied took a placebo and half of them took kava.
37% of the people who drank kava said that their anxiety symptoms relaxed while only 23% of the placebo group did. But despite these findings, researchers said that they needed a larger study in order to conform. Also, as the researchers pointed out, this didn’t study the long-term effects of the drug.
According to the National Institutes of Health, kava has a low potential for abuse.
However, when it comes to people who are already addicts, the risk for relapse with kava is relatively great because it is marketed is a fun thing to do at a trendy bar with friends.
The Dangers of Kava
Despite the minimal potential health benefit, kava poses a serious danger to your health with severe side effects.
You should never mix kava and alcohol because the sedating effects will become dangerously exaggerated. Kava also causes your fingernails, hair, and skin to turn yellow. If you drink a lot of kava over a period of time, you could develop dermopathy as well.
People with dermopathy have large, scaly rashes along their body. Kava can also cause significant liver damage over time.
Kava and Sobriety
For most people, sobriety involves complete abstinence. That means that they can’t use any illicit or illegal substance for mind-altering reasons.
For people in the early stages of recovery, kava’s effect on anxiety is a big draw. Kava doesn’t show up in a urine test and scientists have yet to say that it is an addictive drug.
But, when we rely on a substance to consistently alter our mood, we hit a problem. An addiction doesn’t have to be purely a chemical thing, it can be something that you do out of habit.
Eventually, kava won’t be enough to cure the problems you have, and you’ll look for more. Usually, that’s drugs or alcohol.
Getting Help for Kava Dependence and Abuse
If you or someone you love is abusing kava over a long period of time, it’s imperative that you seek help. Kava is similar to opioids in the way that it affects the body.
Don’t stop trying to use kava on your own. If you do, you could experience:
- Increased blood pressure
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle pain
- Upset stomach
- Restless leg syndrome
Recovering from kava might require a supervised medical detox. During this process, staff will evaluate how much kava you will need to withdraw gradually and peacefully from it.
Once kava has left your system, you will be able to move into formal drug treatment. Here, you will work to find the core of your issues and staff will create a program for you specifically using both individual and group therapy. If needed, you might also receive life skills training along with other interventions.
Once treatment is finished, it’s important that you follow up with an outpatient program. This makes sure that you remember what you learned during treatment even when you’re in the outside world.
Recovery is Close
Addiction is a disease that just continues to get worse and worse over time. It affects you and it affects your loved ones. It doesn’t matter what the substance you are addicted to is, the burden is immense. Dealing with an addiction is overwhelming, but when you talk to a recovery specialist, you give yourself the tools you need to keep that recovery for a lifetime.
Kava is not the answer for your issues while you are in recovery. Don’t mistake it as a harmless recreational substance, because you could wind up putting your sobriety at risk. After all, you once thought alcohol was a harmless substance too, right?
If you or your loved ones need help recovering from an addiction, know that you’re not alone. Visit us today to learn more about how to reach and stay in recovery.