A plague has hit Alabama within the past few years…Kratom. Kratom is an herbal extract derived from a root that grows in Southeast Asia. While illegal in the countries it grows in, this substance has been imported into the U.S. and now sells in some convenience stores as a “5 Hour Energy” type product called Vivazen as well as under other product labels.
This substance has the pain blocking effect of prescription medications like Percocet and Lortabs yet is available without a prescription to anyone including children who purchase it right off store counters. It is a highly addictive opiate like substitute. Opiate addicts are flocking to it as a socially legitimate substitute for heroin or illegally obtained pain medications.
Currently there is a bill in the Alabama State House and another in the Senate to take this substance off the counters and make it only available through a doctor’s prescription. While we are praying that this bill will pass the legislature and be enacted into law to protect the vulnerable and the innocent, my greater prayer is that the mindset that makes us all vulnerable to these types of attacks can be transformed.
Scripture encourages us to, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:13) Unfortunately, we’ve grown accustomed to attempting to control how we feel by depending upon substances that we intake. When we train ourselves to wake up with caffeine, boost ourselves with energy drinks, sooth ourselves with alcohol, and put ourselves to sleep with medications, we set ourselves up to become dependent on something other than what God has designed our “fearfully and wonderfully” made bodies to do.
We also face the spiritual threat of becoming dependent on something or someone other than the Lord which puts our faith in jeopardy. If we are dependent on something other than the Lord, we can become vulnerable to spiritual attacks from the evil one. As James warns, we can become “a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (1:8)
Paul shares a principle that is a guiding light on this topic. In I Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23, he states, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything.” All things are available to me in Christ, but I must not allow anything to enslave me to the point that it overrules Christ’s in my life.
The way I have attempted to practice this principle is to avoid any substance addictive products such as caffeine or sugar. I enjoy coffee but I drink only decaf. And even with that, I take periodic sabbaticals from it to be sure I am not growing dependent upon it.
Let me also add that your body has naturally designed chemicals within it that serve to wake you up or energize you or help you sleep. When you use artificial means, your body begins to not produce these chemicals, which then automatically creates a physical dependency upon these artificial substances. Therefore, you not only become physically dependent but risk also spiritual compromise.
You will notice that if you take a sabbatical from the product you will feel the ill effects of your dependency; that is your “detox”. If you feel detox symptoms like headache, nervousness, low energy, and irritability, it should alert you to your dependency problem and encourage you to steer clear of these products in the future. I assure you these symptoms will pass in a few days and your body will return to produce these chemicals naturally again.
Don’t risk your physical and especially your spiritual health on these artificial products. Don’t risk having a divided hope, but become sober-minded and set your hope fully on the grace of Jesus!
Also please join us in prayer for the passage of HB175 in Alabama to rid our stores of these dangerously addictive substances.