SACRAMENTO -- A drug being sold over the counter across the country will soon be illegal.
The DEA has changed Kratom to a schedule one substance. Countless smoke shops are getting ready to pull it from the shelves. The most common form of Kratom is pills filled with ground-up powder made from leaves found on trees that grow in southeast Asia.
But one Sacramento man said they're making a mistake, and that Kratom is a better alternative to prescription pain killers.
"It's just changed my life, I mean, the side effects aren't there, it doesn't make me drowsy, it's just wonderful, you know," said a Sacramento user who wished to remain anonymous, but tells FOX40 after having back surgery, his doctors prescribed him opiate pain pills.
"About five years ago I started taking it daily, became addicted to it, if I stopped taking it I would go through these horrible withdrawals," he said.
So six months ago, he switched to Kratom and said the difference was night and day.
"I'm just my normal self now, and I can function with my pain, and go about my life. I've been a teacher for the past 10 years. And you know I feel like I'm doing a much better job now because I'm not on that painkiller roller coaster I was before."
But soon buying those pills will be a crime. The DEA announced it will make Kratom a schedule one drug giving stores that sell it until Sept. 30 to pull it off the shelves.
"You're not going to be able to buy it over the counter, and it's going to be illegal to possess it," said Jon Daily, the clinical director for Recovery Happens.
Daily said none of his clients have had issues with Kratom, but it reminds him of when the DEA pulled K2 Spice off the shelves.
Daily said that drug caused deaths, one happening recently in Roseville. He believes the DEA likely has good reason to ban Kratom as well.
"Just because it's an herb, doesn't mean it's necessarily safe," Daily said.
The FDA said Kratom can cause narcotic-like highs but aggressive withdrawals. The DEA claims in the past two years there have been 15 deaths linked to Kratom, and it has no medicinal use.
While many are stock pilling Kratom while they can, the Sacramento man who spoke to FOX40 said he won't because doesn't want to become a criminal.
"I don't want the DEA knocking on my door and arresting me and traumatizing my children. So no it's not worth it for that."
But he also doesn't want to return to the opiate pain pills and has little other choice.
"I really don't know what I'm going to do. My wife doesn't know what I'm going to do either, she's just as upset as I am."