Matthew Dana was a healthy, 27-year-old local police officer from Tupper Lake. He died on August 6, 2017 at home. Initially, nobody knew what had happened to him and it came as a shock that his life would end so suddenly. After Shawn Stuart, one of the county’s elected coroners, conducted an autopsy, it was revealed that Dana died of pulmonary hemorrhage. Toxicology reports found the presence of mitragynine in his blood which could have caused the sudden death. Later on, Stuart would learn that mitragynine is one of the active ingredients found in kratom.
Botanically, kratom is related to the coffee plant. Traditionally its leaves are steeped into a tea or chewed, like coca, and people use kratom’s stimulating effects to endure long hours of manual labor. Over the past two decades, though, kratom has spread across the U.S., often in powder or capsule form, thanks to numerous anecdotal reports that it can counteract fatigue and treat pain. But kratom is also used to manage withdrawal from prescription painkillers and heroin, and it has recently gained widespread attention—and notoriety—for its reputation as a potential cure for opioid addiction.
There has been ongoing debate about kratom and whether it should be sold in the market especially with the potential health risks that its substances pose on the users. It’s not necessarily considered a dangerous drug but there are questions regarding its potential lethality that raises much concern.
(Image credit: Maggie Chiang/Outside Online)