Evan Garcia is quick to praise kratom, a finely-ground powder made from the leaves of Mitragyna speciosa, a tropical evergreen tree in Southeast Asia, as a life-saver.
The Colorado Springs native developed an addiction to opiate painkillers around 2009, after two shoulder surgeries thanks to playing high school football. Soon he was buying $100 worth of pills every day. His friends dropped out of his life. His family didn’t talk to him. It wasn’t a good life.
But then a fellow painkiller addict told him about kratom, and how it helped him break free from his addiction.
“When you’re on opiate painkillers or heroin, the government teaches you you can only get off with their medicines,” said Garcia, manager of Laughing Lion Apothecary. “You’re substituting one for the other. I was taught you could only get off pills with methadone or suboxone.”