Chad Goodwin suffered through a 6-year opiate addiction that threatened his life and career. Twice, he nearly died of a heroin overdose..This dark period of Chad’s life came to an end when, he says, he discovered kratom and never looked back. Now he’s engaged to be married and runs his family’s business.
KratomScience: When did you first hear about kratom?
Chad Goodwin: Let me go back a little bit. I got introduced to opiates when I got my wisdom teeth pulled. That was probably around 2009-2010. And I’ve always smoked a little bit of cannabis. But I really liked the way [opiates] made me feel, unfortunately.
I went over to pick up some cannabis one day and my friend that I got it from had this container of these little blue pills. And I was like, “What are those?” And he was like, “Percocet 30s.” Percocet… I’ve heard that before. That’s what I got when I got my wisdom teeth pulled. I’m like, wow, they made me feel really good. You could probably guess where that went from there.
And then I used that for probably three or four years, and then moved onto harder stuff. Then one day, I actually didn’t have any money left, because it took all my money. That was probably somewhere around 2016. I was just Googling, you know, I was hurting. I’d been abusing these things. I was chasing it.
And kratom came up. I looked where I could get it. I went and bought some. I was astonished at the results of it. I never looked back, you know?
It’s just like a God-send for me. I’ve always had such an addictive personality. Kratom fills that little void that I like. But I don’t chase kratom. I just need a little bit. I’m a daily user but I never chase it. I’ve had more money than I’ve ever had, because I’m not buying any hard drugs or anything like that. It’s just helped me out so much.
I just want people to know if they’re going through anything, just give it a shot.
Why do you think you started to use opiates recreationally? Was it a psychological need for them or something like that?
I’ve always been a super shy, kinda withdrawn guy. I don’t like social situations. When I used opiates, I was the life of the party. It was a whole different experience for me. Looking back, I thought I was great, and all this, but really I was acting dumb to be honest with you. But I thought I was having a great time, it made me feel so good. You just can’t go through life like that.
Did the alcohol do that same kind of thing?
Yeah, exactly. I used them together.
It brought you out of your shell?
Yeah, for sure. If you asked people who hadn’t seen me, the people I went to high school with, they would never had thought I would ever get into drugs like I did. Or get black-out drunk at least two or three times a week. But I went that path.
So you went from pills to heroin. Is that right?
That’s correct. It got so expensive. It was taking all my money, and they were getting harder to find. I guess they cracked down on them. One day this dude that I used to get percocet 30s from went, “Hey man, I got this. Use it the same way, pretty much.” I didn’t know what I was getting myself into with any of it.
Some say it’s actually easier on the liver to snort heroin than to take pills. And it’s cheaper. Is that your experience?
Yeah, definitely. It’s just playing with fire, man. I did just a little bit one night. The next thing I know I’m waking up in the hospital in a bed surrounded by doctors. I got an IV in my arm. And I’m saying, I did just a little touch to test it.
I don’t think people understand that. Just a touch, and if you hit a hot spot or something in it, you might not ever come back. Flaying with fire, you know?
Were you doing it intravenously?
No I never did it IV. I’ve never used needles.
I worry about kids now just experimenting. There’s fentanyl out there that will kill you.
Absolutely, really quick.
What was your life like when you were hooked? Was it completely overtaken by your addiction?
Oh yeah. I mean everything I did revolved around that. If I didn’t have any opiates, or couldn’t drink or something, I wouldn’t go out. I was miserable. I was depressed. I was a former version of myself.
You said you were pronounced dead twice. Is that what you were just talking about, waking up in the hospital?
Yeah. Actually I got a Xanax bar that was pressed with fentanyl. And I did that, but I was also using opiates at the same time. The cop found me, and he tried to wake me up and couldn’t. He didn’t have any NARCAN or anything. But EMS got there. I woke up in the ambulance. They said, “The cop said you were dead. You were blue as a blueberry.”
That was the first time actually. The second time was more severe, the time I just told you about. Really it was one of the worst memories of my lifetime. It’s hard to even look back now. I do, just to keep my head on straight. But I just can’t believe I was so numb to the fact of what I was doing.
I’m so healthy now. I eat as healthy as possible. I drink my little bit of kratom. It makes me so happy and fulfilled in life. It just presses that little button that I have in a safe and healthy way.
It gives you a warm feeling, kind of, but it’s not hard on the body like harder drugs.
It’s so hard to describe. It’s like I have this little void. And I take breaks from kratom here and there. But it just presses that little button I got. And it makes my life so great. It’s a special plant. It really has helped me out.
What’s the difference between a kratom withdrawal, if you even have any, and an opiate withdrawal?
Well, for me it’s not even in the same ballpark. I get a little bit of restless legs. I still sleep good. I wanna drink a glass of it, kind of. I have a large stockpile, I could go drink a glass easily. But my mind’s like, “No, I’m taking a little break from it.” And I’m strong enough to do it. If you had pills or something like that. I’m pretty sure – at least I would not have been strong enough not to do them. When I had them, I would do them.
And you were pronounced dead twice. It shows how addictive opiates can be for some people. For others, they can use them for chronic pain and not develop a serious addiction. But if I would have almost died one time, I think I would stop right then…
I was so scared after that first time. I said I would never use it again. But, you know, a couple weeks went by, I was like, “Well, maybe I can do a little more and I’ll be okay.” That’s just how much of an addictive personality I am. It’s just the way I am. I started using again, and it happened to me again.
My fiance is the exact opposite of me. She doesn’t drink or do anything at all. But she went through this time where she was very stressed out and kind of depressed. She was like, “That drink that you drink…does it help you with anxiety and depression a little bit? I’m kinda going through a rough spot in life.”
I don’t recommend kratom to anyone I don’t think really needs it or can’t use it as a tool. But she was like, “Can you make me one?”
I made her a low-dose one. I weigh all my kratom out on a digital scale. I know exactly what I’m taking when I take it. I made her one, and she jumped out of there. She got a lot of school work to do. She knocked it out. She was very happy. She hadn’t done it in a while now. But whenever she gets in a little funk, she’ll just ask me, “I kinda want one of those drinks.” She knows it’s safe. Even someone without an addictive personality at all, it’s really made her life better too, in a way. She uses it as a tool whenever she’s having a rough patch in life.
So how long were you hooked on opiates and heroin?
About 2010 to 2016, something like that. About six, seven years. Worst time of my life.
Did you taper off opiates and then introduce kratom gradually? Or were you completely clean when you started to use kratom?
That’s a good question. I got kratom for the withdrawals, and it helped me out so much. But then after that, I thought, it helped me get off of it, but I didn’t think it was going to make my life as positive as it’s made it. So I was totally clean off everything for at least six months. I had some [kratom] left over. I was using capsules at the time, and I took some. I was like, “Holy crap!” I don’t wanna do more and more and more and more. It pressed that button that I’m talking about. I did capsules for a while after that. Eventually I switched to my powder with orange juice.
I hadn’t looked back since. I haven’t bought a single street drug. I have not been blackout drunk since I started with kratom. I’ve drank a couple beers here and there. But I really don’t care about alcohol that much. I feel like I use [alcohol] as it’s intended to be used. It’s just helped me in so many areas.
Do you have any preferred strains you like to use?
Green’s my favorite. Usually in the mornings I’ll do a white and green mix. Then at lunchtime I’ll do a straight green. And then at night time I’ll do a red.
How much do you take on an average day?
I do eight grams at a time. Some people say that’s too much. But I’ve experimented with different doses and that’s just what works for me. I never get the wobbles. I never get nauseous. That’s just how it is.
Everybody has a different tolerance. Even with a larger amount, it doesn’t seem any harder on the body than a few cups of coffee. It’s not like hard drugs. With cocaine, meth, even coffee, if you do too much, you get jittery and anxious. Kratom is not like anything else. The more you do, the more you calm down.
It’s crazy how that works right? It gives you energy but it also eases my social anxiety at the same time.
And with the pandemic, I know a lot of people that say kratom helps your immune system. I’m not saying it would help anything, but I personally haven’t been sick in almost three or four years since I’ve used it. I used to get two or three colds a year. Now I haven’t even had a cold. I have a little bit of allergies but that’s about it. It’s got to be something there.
We think there is. I had done a podcast recently exploring kratom and immunity, but I took it down because I was worried that somebody wasn’t going to call their doctor and they were going to order kratom if they got sick. People just read the headlines and they don’t look into it. We’ve heard from a lot of people who say they haven’t been sick in years. And I’ve personally gotten over bad colds more quickly with kratom tea. It’s just another beneficial reason why I believe they’re trying to shut kratom down.
That’s why I’m careful. I only really tell people about it who can really benefit from it. I don’t just tell everybody. I don’t want it to get too out there, but I want it to get out there enough to help people who really need help. It’s a tough situation. I know Big Pharma is trying to kill it as hard as they can. I’m scared of the bans. We’ll see how it goes, I guess.
Is there anything going on in North Carolina that you know of?
Not that I know of.
Do they have medical marijuana in North Carolina yet?
No they don’t. It’s unfortunate. I told you earlier how I went to my cannabis dealer, and he happened to have opiates. I honestly feel if they just had a store for the medical marijuana, and you got a prescription, you wouldn’t be put in that situation. A lot of people that sell cannabis sell other things. Some of them are more profitable than just cannabis. So they might try to push that on you. I know quite a few people that got hooked on hard drugs that way. So if there was a store we could go to, it might help some.
Kratom has actually reduced my cannabis intake. When I was doing hard opiates I would want to smoke all day with them. But kratom fulfills me so much and makes me have a little bit of energy, I don’t even think about smoking hardly at all. I don’t even smoke every day anymore. I used to smoke whenever I got the chance. It’s helped me in so many ways.
Is the same effect with drinking? You said you don’t even feel like it anymore.
Yeah. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll drink like two or three beers. But I never drink more than a six pack no matter what. Even if I went out to a party or something like that. Definitely can thank kratom for that.
Do you make a tea or do you do toss-and-wash or capsules?
I usually mix it into orange juice. I can do toss-and-wash, it doesn’t bother me. But orange juice is my favorite. I enjoy the taste. People probably think that’s crazy but it tastes good to me.
Do you get any side effects with kratom at all?
I don’t get any side effects. I feel like I live a normal life now. I’m happy like a person is supposed to be. A little bit of constipation, but that’s nothing that a little Miralax … I’m still regular. I drink a lot of water now. It’s not bad. That’s the only side effect I could speak of, really.
Do you think kratom is a severely addictive thing where if you didn’t have any for a week, it would be terrible?
Nah. I actually went to New Orleans for a week and a half for my friend’s bachelor party, and I actually forgot it. I hardly even thought about it. I was with my friends and we were having a great time. If I was all by myself, I would’ve been like, I wish I had a drink of kratom. But it’s not addictive like that. I got a little bit of restless legs, but it’s hardly enough to notice. For me, personally. I don’t know other people’s experience.
We’re in a pandemic which is stressful for a lot of people. During stressful times are you ever tempted to get back into drugs and alcohol?
Absolutely not. No way. I would never, no way. My head is on my shoulders so good now. I hadn’t really thought about what I’d been through before. I look back and I was such an idiot. No way, it was the worst time in my life. It really was.
I don’t know if I’ll do kratom the rest of my life. But right now, there’s no negatives. It just helps me out so much. Eventually I might quit, but I hope it’s always legal for people like me that it can help so much. It’s just an amazing plant.
What advice would you have for somebody who’s addicted to heroin or opiates on how they can best transition to kratom?
I would say, stop that shit right away, as quick as you can. And wait till you can’t bear it anymore. You’re hurting so bad. Start taking just a little kratom to make you feel better. Then after you get through that, stop everything for as long as you can. Then if you feel you need a little something, definitely don’t go back to your dealer. Go the safe way. Get a little more kratom. Take that. If it works for you like it worked for me, it just presses that button. You’ll feel great, and hopefully you won’t crave [opiates] any more, and you’ll live a happy life. A fulfilled life. And you’re not always chasing, worried about getting this and that.
Kratom is so much more affordable, so much safer, so much cleaner, so much better for you. Just give it a chance if you’re going through it. It really does work. People think cause it’s legal, it’s no good or something. But it really does work. Please give it a chance if you’re hurting.