How Negative Kratom News Works

How Negative Kratom News Works

1. Fear of “Drugs” Firmly Ingrained in the Culture

Since Prohibition, the United States has developed a vibrant anti-drug culture. Even as cannabis is becoming more and more decriminalized, the fear-based assumption that addiction will flourish if we don’t banish certain substances, and have the authorities protect us from them, has been sown into the American psyche.

Nearly 50 years since Richard Nixon declared a “War on Drugs” (but only some of them), drugs both legal and illegal are consumed by a vast majority of American adults, be it sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and Tylenol, or heroin, cocaine, and LSD.

This clear failure of social policy, and the fact that a majority of Americans now support cannabis legalization, doesn’t erase the deeply ingrained assumption that banning some drugs will keep us safe. It’s reflected everywhere, from our laws, to our media, to the way we often treat people with substance abuse problems.

The FDA does not need to concoct a vast, secret conspiracy between itself, law enforcement, drug treatment centers, and the media in order to ban kratom. The anti-drug culture has deep roots in place for anyone to exploit for power or profit.

This, combined with a sharp decline in the funding of real investigative journalism, is why we see so many negative stories about kratom, despite the fact that it has helped rather than harmed a vast majority of its consumers.

2. The Decline of Journalism

In the past few decades, journalism in the United States has been in decline. Various factors have led to this, including the rise of 24-hour cable news, the internet, and consolidation of ownership of media outlets into a few giant conglomerates

On-the-ground, investigative newspaper reporters covering local communities used to be the rule. Now, as revenues are in steady decline, newsroom budgets are being slashed and journalists are being laid-off left and right. Not just in small newspapers, but in larger ones like the Denver Post and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Even popular news sites like Buzzfeed and Huffington Post are being swallowed up by giants and high quality journalists spat out into the unemployment line.

Sensational stories instead of informative ones are cheaper, and attract more attention and therefore advertising dollars. Stories that deliver good information require time, investigation, research, and a moderately educated readership. Newspapers, especially small ones, no longer have the budget to fund this type of labor.

3. An example: The latest in negative news about kratom

We turn to ExploreJeffersonPA.com, a local news outlet in central Pennsylvania. Among the stories they cover are local events, high school and college sports, obituaries, and crime.

News outlets are constantly searching for content. So when a representative of the Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug & Alcohol Commission sends ExploreJeffersonPA some information about this “new drug concern”, they have no reason not to take this information at face value. A local organization that provides “substance abuse prevention, intervention, and treatment services” seems like a good source.

The Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug & Alcohol Commission perhaps gets updates about new drugs of concern from the NIDA and FDA. Federal agencies are supposed to represent the public instead of big business interests, and in many cases, they do (unless an over-the-counter supplement is threatening the bottom line of pharmaceutical corporations). So local drug treatment providers, who may often receive accurate information from these organizations, are unaware of a reason to disbelieve information about kratom, a drug they’ve probably never heard of.

When supposedly trusted agencies like the FDA say kratom is dangerous, a local reporter searching for information on kratom, for perhaps the first time, is unaware of a reason to disbelieve them. The reported “deaths” and the ingrained culture of fear around drugs leads to a typical fear-based narrative. At the top of a Google search lists other negative stories about kratom in other local news media. The reporter, trying to offer balance, may also find that, “Many of the other associated deaths that were investigated appeared to have resulted from adulterated products or taking kratom with other potent substances”.

A reporter might not have time to search for and interview a local person who has benefited from kratom (even blogging for this site, I have often have trouble finding someone to commit to an email interview). Occasionally, this occurs in local news, but not very often. Because of the decline of local news in general, this reporter is very likely being paid a low wage to write several stories per week, and may not have time to do comprehensive research into every topic.

Add a headline that captures a bit of fear, or concern, in the reader, and you give people the impression that kratom is a dangerous substance.

4. Counter this by educating reporters, rather than accusing them

Despite an overall drop in revenue in the past few decades, local news media has one advantage over other media – their stories appear easily in Google alerts and news searches, unlike many of the independent blogs, advocacy organizations, and scientific studies published on university websites or medical journals.

Unless we convince reporters in local and national news media to follow the science, the FDA and other parties interested in banning kratom will continue to get to them first.

Being aware of the ingrained fear of drugs in our culture, and the low incomes that reporters are often paid, it’s good to leave a polite comment on these stories on their websites or social media. We can let them know how kratom has helped us and others. We can show them the science. We can link them to some of the excellent rebuttals of FDA claims, and the scientific studies posted on americankratom.org

It’s important to remember that the reporters aren’t always flat out lying. They are repeating untruths that they believe to be true. Some negative kratom stories are obviously trying to push an anti-drug agenda. The ExploreJeffersonPA reporter didn’t seem as though she was trying to create click-bait or write something particularly sensationalist. I’m sure this reporter would be open to new knowledge and a different point of view about kratom.

We need local news reporters on our side. If we can get them to write more accurate stories, this can eventually create a balance to all the negative in the public mind around kratom.

We got word that the proper way to send feedback on this story, since their comments section is down, is to email [email protected] … Tweet to them @exploreJeffPA

UPDATE 5/3/19: Since this post, Aly Delp of ExploreJeffersonPA.com, (who wrote article I used as an example of negative news above), is working on a two part series on kratom that is more comprehensive and balanced. “Part Two will examine the possible benefits of kratom.”




This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. In 2018 there was 2,077 Drownings ( http://www.enddrowningnow.org/stats-2/ )
    Water KILLS. will you give up water?
    Every year, roughly 1.3 million people die in car accidents worldwide – an average of 3,287 deaths per day. (SaferAmerica, 2019) (Source: https://driving-tests.org/driving-statistics/)
    Will you STOP Driving?
    Kratom is a NATURAL ALTERNATIVE to habit forming PRESCRIPTION DRUGS that often create side effects. Please research actual users before spreading false data about the dangers of Kratom. The benefits far outweigh any possible long term risks.

  2. I began using kratom in Dec. 2018 thanks to my granddaughter. I was using a cane and walker to get around at the time, and if I left the house, my husband wheeled me around in a wheelchair. The second day of taking kratom, I walked to my car on my own and was able to drive. I hear negative comments every doctor visit, but I will continue taking my 6 capsules daily because I know it works. And with a lot fewer side effects than the drugs my doctor prescribed. I am 71 years old, have osteoarthritis, osteoporosis (degenerative joint disease), and IBS complicated by lymphocytic colitis. It is not addictive. I have missed days that I was ordered not to take it by my doctor because of other medical testing, and I was fine, except for the horrible pain returning, and my hips and back hurting so bad, I could hardly walk again.

  3. Here’s how negative kratom news worked on me! I had never heard of it, saw a show where a woman was ‘accused’ of being addicted to kratom tea – a legal high they said. And I thought, what is THAT? After reading about it, I was SO, SO happy I heard about it, because it was nothing short of a miracle. I also discovered very early on that the information about kratom being addictive is false and propaganda. I am able to stop drinking kratom tea whenever I feel like it, for weeks at a time, without incident. You can build up a mild tolerance, but there are no withdrawal affects. It also helped me get off ADHD medication. SO THANKS negative news!

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