Suzette is an abstract artist and screenwriter. She was addicted to opiates for years, and after a couple attempts, got sober and made a profound change in her life with the help of kratom. This is Suzette Prutsok, and this is her kratom story.
Suzette Prutsok’s art can be seen on Instragram @lagtime_art
And audio version of this interview can be found here.
KratomScience.com: I like your paintings. They’re cool.
Suzette Prutsok: Thanks. I’ve always done it, but I got into it more last year and now it’s taken off. It’s good art therapy. It helps me in more ways than one, just being creative and having an outlet.
Is that what you do for work?
I do medical billing in the day, so my day job is like, blah… I was into screenwriting a lot. It’s hit and miss. It’s really hard to have a career in that.
What part of Southern California are you in?
I live in Tustin. We grew up here in California, but my whole family is from West Virginia.
Close to us. We’re in Pittsburgh.
We’re down at the airport in Pittsburgh all the time. I was born in Morgantown, long time ago *laughs*.
When did you first hear about kratom?
I read about it like six years ago. I’d always been looking for a way to get off stupid pills. My boyfriend at the time, he’d be like, “What are you reading? You’re wasting your time.”
I’m like, I’m looking for a way to get out of this shit. Because I know it’s gotta come, and I’m too much of a wuss to go cold turkey. I didn’t want to go methadone or Suboxone. I just knew that was a whole other nightmare by talking to people and all that shit.
People talking about kratom say you’re just trading one addiction for another. And I believed that crap. If you Google kratom it’s nothing flattering, really. It’s all misleading, all fucking lies.
We try our best to get at the top of the Google results.
It’s all fixed and they all grease each other’s palms. It’s all paid off. It’s all sponsored by rehabs and the FDA. [They] stand to lose a lot of money if it gets more popular so of course you’re gonna talk crap on it.
It’s like marijuana. It’s relatively safe already in plant form to consume.
Yeah, you can’t copy it. That’s what they’re waiting to do with the kratom is isolate some alkaloids so they can make a pill out of it. People don’t have 20 years to wait for that crap when we can just take the plant. Listen to the people.
I was one of those people who read Google and wasted another five years of my life not knowing. One day the stars just aligned in a bad way and in a good way at the same time. To where I was out of money, nowhere to find nothing. I had to go buy pills off of friends in the street.
I had a doctor and the guy cut us off. Totally cut everybody off. He was probably doing shady shit. What do you do next? You got cut off from the doctor and you take a hundred 20-30 milligram Oxys a month and now you get none of that. It’s like, what? It’s hell. The doctors don’t even give a shit either. They don’t return your call. They just say find someone else or go to the ER. And they don’t even care. They’re like, another drug withdrawal! Bye!
It was Oxys that you were taking?
Oxys and Norco. The kratom helped better. I had done the Oxys, couldn’t find that for a while, then I was on Norcos forever. Once I got into kratom, it worked.
I had a prescription. In order to fill by 30s, I had to fill 90 pills of Gabapentin, you know, Neurontin. I was like, I don’t want to start this. Because I’d read a bunch of crap about that. Even the pharmacist said, “I can’t fill the script for the Oxys unless I fill the script for the Neurontin.” So I had bottles of that shit in my closet. I just ended up dumping them all because they’re expired, not safe, I don’t need them.
I had always read that taking the Gaba will help you fight the withdrawal symptoms. And I had seen a couple of videos on YouTube about it. One channel called Opiate Addiction Support gave me a lot of education about what to do. I saw his video about using kratom to get off of opiates. I said, you know what? I’m gonna try it again. After the Google mislead, I’m gonna trust this guy’s video.
And it worked. It took away like 70% of the physical withdrawal. I went to work and was withdrawaling at the same time. I started Thursday night, and took Friday off. I was able to go to work Monday, no problem, and work that week. I was still taking the kratom and feeling like a.. hundred thousand bucks. You know what I mean? Not the greatest but I wasn’t going bad. For the first time in years, I’m living life without a pill. That alone was like a pink cloud moment. After you get to day 5, you’re feeling way better.
You get a little bit of that gastrointestinal thing, but, big deal compared to restless leg syndrome and kicking. I didn’t have any of that really. I could sleep. I use cannabis so that helped too. THC/CBD/Kratom is a perfect trifecta. Mother Nature’s like, “Here, you guys are in pain? Try this.”
Honestly, if I don’t have to take another pharmaceutical again? Cool. For pain, that is. I’m not gonna say I’m bullet proof and I’m perfect. I did have some weekend relapses. That’s when I learned that shit made me feel drugged. I never realized it when I was living that life. It’s like you’re living in another realm. I just felt like super sleepy all weekend. I’m like, this is not fun.
I also noticed the kratom keeps it to where you don’t really want to use the pills anymore. It kinda is it’s own little “God’s methadone” or whatever you want to call it. To me, I felt like I could use kratom every day, or not.
People say that with alcohol too. They’ve been drinking for 20 years, started using kratom, and they just don’t feel like drinking any more.
I want people I know who are drinking to try it. I’m like come on, don’t waste any more time screwing up. Myself, I wasted five years. If I trusted kratom back then I think, damn, how much would life had changed?
Kratom only parks in the one receptor for pain. No euphoria, no nothing. It’s like CBD. You don’t feel it, but it just works. For my back pain, and even menstrual cramp pain, that stuff works great. Forget ibuprofen. I don’t need that. That stuff makes your stomach bleed. I’ll just take a little extra kratom.
I take it in capsules. A lot of people say it doesn’t work. But for me it’s convenient. I would like to learn how to make kratom tea. I saw your video on YouTube about that.
I like to use an electric tea kettle that gets the water just to the boiling point. Then pour the water into a French press or other container and mix it with the kratom. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then pour off the water.
You said the doctor cut you off from pain pills. Was that when you started looking for kratom? What year was that?
I was panicking, like, what am I gonna do? I had looked on Google and I just was calling people I knew… I finally decided to quit. It was like late 2018. Life was going nowhere. That’s when I found the kratom. My friend and I split a bottle. I was working, and I said, “How are you doing?” He said, “I’m fine. It’s like nine hours since I had a pill and I’m feeling fine.” I’m like, “You know what? Me too.” And then, like, it turned to 15 hours and I took some more kratom, and I’m like, I haven’t gone this long without a pill in years. then it turned to 20 hours, I’m like, Oh my God I went a full day. Starting to feel a little giddy, but feeling like shit at the same time. But happy, proud, like, no way! Did I find the key to get out of opiate hell? Oh my God I’m gonna tell the world.
Would you get really sick without opiates before you found kratom?
The withdrawals start coming in. I had a habit of about 150 milligrams a day of some narcotic for years. It’s a mess.
I have a friend that’s on pain meds and he says his back hurts. But I think a lot of it is, he’s dependent on it. I try to teach him, like, “Hey dude, try the kratom.” He wouldn’t do it. He said, “Oh I don’t need to get addicted to something else.” I’m like, oh my God, it’s not like that dude.
If the trade off is plant leaf every day, so be it. I take like 6 capsules to go to work, and I feel fine. I don’t need coffee. Save the 600 calorie Starbucks bomb.
I take the green strain for work and daily life. It keeps me not thinking about pills. It keeps me functioning through the day. I’m a way better person than I was a couple years ago. That’s a good trade-off, considering.
To me, the equivalent would be a trade-off between doing cocaine every morning before work, then switching to coffee.
I laugh at how the FDA says things like “Kratom has a heroin-like effect”. My ass! No way. Not even. Are you kidding? A bong rip gets you more stoned than kratom. Good Lord. That’s when I knew the government straight-up lies. They’re lying about kratom.
I watched that Netflix A Leaf of Faith. I tell a lot of people to watch that.
I try to get people to watch that too.
I think it talks to people more. Stupid opiates rewire your brain. Long-term use, we’re screwed. Our brains are already tinkered. Kratom makes me work better and be more productive. I’ll take it. I’m glad I found it. I want other people to know it’s okay. Try it. And if it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t. At least you tried it.
I feel bad for the people in the states where it’s illegal. If I was them I would drive to a legal state and spend a week or two there. Vacation at a motel, or whatever, and use it to get off of opiates. That’s what I would do. It’s worth saving your life.
I’m working on this script about this counselor who incorporates biochemistry healing, your mind, body, and soul… workouts to get your natural endorphins flowing. I was taking nootropics, like L-tyrocine and stuff to get a little boost of dopamine. Going through PAWS is hard and kratom isn’t enough to help you sometimes. My one friend was like, “It stopped working for me”. But now he’s back on pills.
Is an opiate withdrawal anything like a kratom withdrawal?
Oh no. I take kratom five days a week and I’ll take the weekends off. I’ve gone two days, three days, and started feeling a little heebie-jeebie on day two. I was like, I’ll just take a few. I know my brain’s re-wired. I know I’m trying to fix it, and it’s a process. It’s only kratom. If you respect the kratom, it respects you back. You don’t need to take a lot of me. I’ll give you what I can.
I forgot to mention how important music was to me when I was going through the withdrawals.. I found a musician that I always wanted to explore.. it was Gary Numan’s music that helped me a lot. Also journaling.. writing down what I was going through.. how many days sober, away from opiates. That was really important to me at first. After a few months the journaling got a bit less, but it’s still important.. of course music is still a vital source to me.
How much do you take on an average day?
Six to twelve grams.
That seems to be about average. It’s such a light thing on the body. It’s a lot less than having 6 – 12 beers.
Exactly. That’s what I’m saying. One bong hit, you could take 14 grams of kratom a day. One good bong hit is gonna get you stoned more than a lot of kratom would.
I love cannabis. I think everything helps in a special way. If there were no pharmaceutical companies trying to make money we would have a lot of herbs or plants available to make us feel better. But everybody wants to make a dollar so we’re put in boxes, and it sucks.
Kratom is banned in San Diego, which is weird for California where cannabis has been more or less legal for a while.
That’s bizarre. I don’t understand that one. It’s like, why? The rest of the state, it’s legal. If I was living there I would drive to another city.
I’ve been bitched at in comments where I say, “Try kratom,” and people say “How dare you say that to someone. Are you a doctor? You shouldn’t be saying that.” Are you kidding me? No I’m a person that’s tried it, and it helped me.
I’ve had my mom try it before. They think it’s pot. It’s like, no, it’s not. I hate to see her suffering, and it’s like come on, I know this might help, try it. I’ve given it to a lot of my family. My one sister’s like, “It didn’t do anything.” Yeah because you were thinking it was going to give you like a bong-hit buzz and I told you that’s not what it does.
That’s one of the roadblocks, I think, to peoples’ recovery, especially if they’re on opiates. They think kratom gets you just as high, because they read the propaganda about it.
It’s like parking cars in the garage in your brain. It parks right where it needs to. The pink cloud vibe you get when you get off opiates is so worth it. I would wake up and say, “Damn. It’s a beautiful day!” And I never say that, ever. I was driving to work, like “Wow, those flowers are so pretty”. It’s such a good way to live life. That overall, I don’t have no weight on my shoulders, happiness. Because I didn’t have to worry about throwing cash to go buy something today or tomorrow. I just have this bottle of kratom and it was relatively cheap. I got it at the smoke shop. It worked out for when I needed it. For what I paid for this, I paid one day in pills. I saved so much money, and that alone made me happy. The people out there that are buying this shit every day. It’s not cheap. It’s terrible, especially nowadays. I’m just grateful I’m not in that. Having to find shit every day. Especially right now with people not working (note: this was during the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020). It’s a mess. And kratom can help you get out of this mess.
We hear that from the vast majority of people who comment on our site.
I got to that point where it all hit. I’m broke, I need to get out of this, I’m gonna try this kratom, and here goes. And it worked! I was crying the next day. I was like, oh my God, I went one day and it was doable.
Do you think kratom helps with your creative process?
When I was in that funk, what killed my writing was that I just didn’t want to do things. If I get out of this opiate hell is there some streak of creativity that will happen? I will trade it. And I still went more years on the pills. I’m like, well something I’m supposedly passionate about, I have no passion for. It just was a miserable existence.
I started painting more. I look at my first paintings and they were like, meh. Then they got more in-depth and stuff. I developed my own style. Late ’18 when I got off the pills with the kratom, and the whole 2019, all those paintings were all kratom. Like I said, it was that pink cloud moment too. I got like seven paintings done in that two week period. Every day I just wanted to do something creative. It was getting off the opiates and my brain just being free. It starts making its own dopamine and then it bursts, and then it goes down low and that’s when we get into that PAWS. That post-acute [withdrawal syndrome] where we’re bummed out and depressed and we start to relapse. That happens all too much. That’s when it’s okay to dabble back into your kratom, to give you that boost to go to work, because we do our daily stuff and it’s just like a drag. With kratom you can drive on it and stuff. If it helps you get to work, it’s okay. No one’s complaining that you drink coffee every day, and they’re in the same family. Starbucks lines are through the roof, and that’s normal. Kratom’s normal.
What do you think could be done differently to help more people hear about kratom?
I think having doctors talk about it. Not like Dr. Drew because he’s a puppet for whatever pays him. You got on his chats and you mention kratom and you get five people poking you with spears, like, get out of there. They plug all those medicines, bupren, whatever. Big Pharma went through the country with one opiate wave, now they’re coming through with their methadone wave. Gaba/lyrica is flooding the pain patient market now because the FDA told doctors it’s ok to push this medicine. They prescribe it because it is not an opiate, but it has horrible withdrawals too. Plus when you are on meds like that, you feel drunk and slur your speech. Soon you will hear about the Benzodiazepines epidemic. Xanax is everywhere. Also Adderall. People are on pharms for nearly every human emotion we have. Money, money, money. But with kratom hopefully you can bypass that.
Now I think it’s Suboxone.
Yeah, now they’re plugging that. So when you go to the rehab, now you get detoxed onto that shit. Well what if I want to detox with kratom? Oh, you’re not allowed to, you’ll get kicked out. That right there, how the rehab industry is not allowed to…
Which is horrible.
You’ll put me on Xanax, and you’ll put me on Suboxone, but I can’t take kratom?
Exactly. That’s just ethically disturbing.
Or I can’t smoke cannabis if it’s not legal in my state. Can I smoke some CBD then? That right there is super misleading, and wrong. They all look for profits. Rehabs that want to help people get sober that focus on maybe using kratom as tool to help you physically get off the drugs. then that’s good. That’s where the lack of education is.
My dad is a doctor and he doesn’t understand much about kratom. He’s also retired. He’d never heard of it. He couldn’t believe this plant could do all that. Well, yeah, I swear to God. That’s what saved me.
That’s the first time I came clean to my family about being on pills. I hid that for so long. It was my dark life, my second life. That was horrible too. The shame and stuff. My mom was like, “How did you get off of those pills?” Kratom. That’s what helped me.
They don’t understand how withdrawal keeps people stuck on these pills.
It used to be if you were addicted to drugs you couldn’t talk about it, and it was considered painful. But it seems like people are starting to come out of their shells about this stuff and talk about drugs honestly.
When I was on it, I hid it and I was embarrassed by it. When I got off of it, I felt more empowered. Then I was like, you know what? Yeah, that was me. And I want to help you try and get where I’m at now. Besides, kratom’s nothing to be ashamed of either. It’s really good. If you use it wisely, you shouldn’t have issues. If you’re using a lot of it, try to wean down. That’s just normal, with everything.
I ate a lot of cake today. I’m a sugar addict! Sugar has no redeeming health qualities.
Sugar is the worst out of them all! It hits the opiate sensors too. Cheese, mother’s milk. All that tingles the opiate sensors. People that like a lot of cheese are getting a little push of endorphins. That’s why we like it so much. Humans are so attracted to anything pleasurable.
Kratom seems to work for so many people.
It doesn’t work for some people. But if you try it and it does work for you, I swear to God, you’ll kiss the ground. Even if there’s ants on it, you’ll kiss the ground.
Don’t snort the ants like Ozzy Osbourne.
Yeah don’t snort them.
They way Oxy would just click into your head, it psychologically would tell you that you need more. After three hours the stupid little 30 would be like, “You need another one.” It talks to you. Loudly, too. They scientfically made that stuff to be addictive. It was way more addictive than Norco was. Norco never talked to me. I couldn’t have five of them in a drawer and they’re sitting there whispering to me. But those stupid [Oxy] 30s? Those things are evil.
It’s funny how it all comes from the same plant, but it seems to be engineered so differently.
The way it connected on the opiate sensors was so gripping. It was like “Gimme gimme!” like a monster.
And when they get guys from the company elected to political office they’ll just sign off on it.
Gottlieb is now on the board of some pharmaceutical company…
Pfizer. He went right to Pfizer and he didn’t even care.
He was sick of the kratom people telling him the truth. I’m gonna block them all.