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Beware of alternative pain killer, experts say

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

It's a new drug that's gaining popularity in the U.S. It's called Kratom. And it's legal. But doctors say it can generate dependency or addiction. Similar to hard drugs like heroin.

It comes in packs that read Floories, Kratom O-P-M and Medicine Man.

It's marketed as a natural alternative to pain medication and yes, a legal high. It's called Kratom, it's the leaf of a southeast Asian tree and it's becoming very popular in the United States.

It's sold as a powder to put in a beverage or a pill you can swallow.

If taken in low doses it is said to be a stimulant, in high doses it allegedly can have a relaxing and pain relieving effect but the problem according to the medical field is that similar to hard drugs like heroin, prescribed drugs like Oxycodone and Vicodin.

The tea can generate a dependency or addiction.

"For instance, any kind of chemical that makes us feel happier or less anxious, we don't learn how to use our own skills to be able to approach these anxiety provoking situations and so then we become dependent on it," said psychologist Dr. Evelyn Benitez.

Kratom is legal in the United States.

It's readily available online or at head shops but it has been placed on the DEA's list of drugs and chemicals of concern.

The FDA doesn't approve its consumption, therefore it is not regulated. "There's the possibility of contamination, alteration, so we really don't know what we're putting in our system and especially when it's sold without any clear proof that it's being monitored," Dr. Benitez said. 

Although it is legal in the united states, other countries have banned it.