Kratom powder and capsules

Hundreds died using kratom in Florida. It was touted as safe.

hey found him early in the morning: slumped on the couch, vomit on his shirt, face pale, eyes halfway shut.

A roommate told paramedics he feared Jonathan Dampf had relapsed on painkillers and overdosed. This time, though, the 33-year-old had taken something new.

Dampf came to Florida more than a decade earlier in the throes of addiction. Alcohol, pills, anything he could get his hands on.

Within months, he got sober and became a leader at his Fort Lauderdale church’s recovery program. He married and had a daughter.

He was everything to them. His wife had his number saved in her phone as “Superman.”

But life’s pressures became suffocating. His daughter was born with a condition requiring around-the-clock care. His home needed repairs. Bills added up. Depression took hold.

He decided to try kratom, a dusty green psychoactive powder from the leaves of a Southeast Asian tree. It was marketed as a safe way to ease anxiety and mimic the effects of opioids. It was legal, virtually unregulated and described as all-natural. He could find it at gas stations, cafes, smoke shops or online.

He took it regularly, including before paramedics were called to his home in April 2021.

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