Guest Editorial: New Year. New Drug Trends. Be in The Know.

Tioga County ASAP Coalition and Care Compass Network hosted the Tall Cop Says Stop High in Plain Sight Training at Tioga Downs in December 2019. Jermain Galloway, Tall Cop (he’s 6’9”), travels across the U.S., visiting two or three states a week to train parents, educators, law enforcement, medical professionals, and everyone in between about current drug trends, opioids, e-cigarettes / vape pens, new marijuana products, and marijuana wax and oils. There were about 80 attendees from Tioga County School Districts, community organizations, Public Health, and many more trained by Tall Cop.  

Jermain Galloway did a scan at several local gas stations and head shops, where he noticed a large amount of Kratom being sold in our area, the most he has ever seen in such a small area. 

Kratom is a tropical tree found in Southeast Asia, with leaves that contain some of the same chemicals found in opioids. Mitragynine is one of the chemicals found in kratom leaves that act as a “natural herbal painkiller.”  

Kratom is sold as green powder in capsules and packets labeled “not for human consumption.” Some people chew kratom leaves or brew the leaves as a tea.

In low doses, Kratom is a stimulant, but at high doses it is a painkiller, just like an opiate. In fact, it is banned in Thailand where it comes from. 

Like other drugs with opioid-like effects, kratom can be addictive, which means users will feel physical withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug. Some users have reported becoming addicted to kratom. Withdrawal symptoms include soreness, difficulty sleeping, irritability, aggression, emotional changes, runny nose, and jerky body movements. 

Reported health effects of kratom use include nausea, itching, sweating, dry mouth, constipation, and loss of appetite. Kratom use is not known to cause a fatal overdose; however, the commercial forms of the drug are sometimes laced with other chemicals that have caused death. 

Although kratom is a natural herb, that does not mean it’s safe. It’s important to keep in mind that the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t review herbal products before they are being sold. So, there’s no way to prove that a supplement will contain the ingredients listed on the label (or that those ingredients will appear in the proper amounts). 

A kratom substitute, Tianeptine, is being marketed as an anti-depressant and mood enhancer, and sold as a dietary supplement. This product is also not FDA approved and there is no age requirement to purchase these products, which means our youth can easily get their hands on them. 

If you or a loved one are considering trying kratom, explore other options in combination with pain treatment to manage or cope with pain, such as practicing mindfulness, trying yoga or new stretches to help control pain.

We want to thank Jermaine Galloway, again, for providing Tioga County communities with such an eye-opening and informative training about current drug trends in our area and among adults and young people, alcohol and drug clothing, and signs and symptoms of drug use that any parent or professional who works with youth or adults should be aware of. 

In the words of Officer Galloway, “You can’t stop what you don’t know.” 

For more information about this training, additional resources on substance-use related topics, and current Tioga County data, visit, like us on Facebook @TiogaASAP, or call (607) 223-4066.

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