For a nation in the grips of an opioid epidemic, Scott Carpenter's story sounds familiar: He took prescription painkillers for chronic knee pain, and the pills became an on-again, off-again habit.
He broke the cycle four months ago when he started taking a herbal supplement called kratom to control his cravings.
"It was a game-changer," said the 51-year-old Denton man who works in construction. "I took it and was thinking to myself, this is how normal people feel."
The Southeast Asian plant derivative, which has been used for generations by people overseas for pain, and mood disorders, and to boost energy, is gaining a following in the United States....