- 21 May
Treating Heroin and Opiate Addiction with Ibogaine
The nature of psychedelic medications has been a point of interest for the scientific community for decades. A rapidly growing addiction epidemic, fueled mostly by opiates and heroin, has drawn renewed attention to the way that psychedelics, like Ibogaine, can fight substance abuse and addiction.
Addiction is Gaining Ground
Last year, over 60,000 overdose deaths were reported nationwide. This number outpaces any other accidental cause of death is the US and gives us troubling insight into a growing problem.
Many people point to the over-prescribing of narcotic pain medications as the source of the current opioid epidemic. Pharmaceutical companies grossly underexaggerated the addictive nature of their painkillers, leading to excessive and irresponsible prescribing practices.
Now that new laws have made it difficult to receive large quantities of prescription narcotics, some people are turning to illicit drugs to feed their addictions.
Treatment facilities aren’t equipped for the increasing number of addicts, and people are struggling to get the help that they need to reach recovery. Drugs like heroin and prescription narcotics have the highest relapse rate out of any other substances.
This is because of the impact they have on the brain and how severe the withdrawal symptoms can be. Some find themselves going through rehab several times before they’re finally able to experience recovery—if at all.
The level of frustration surrounding failed treatment attempts has led many people to look into the use of psychedelic for addiction treatment. Psychedelics like Ibogaine.
What is Ibogaine?
Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychedelic extracted from the root bark of the Tabernanthe Iboga shrub. The shrub grows wild in West Africa and has been used by native tribes for thousands of years.
First discovered by the pygmies, Iboga was regularly used in spiritual and healing rituals that became a regular part of the tribal culture.
The Bwiti of Africa were so enamored with the effects of Iboga that they built many of their cultural and religious beliefs around the psychedelic experience. The use of Iboga was a rite of passage, and something that the tribe held sacred.
Ibogaine didn’t make its way to the US until the 1930s when Olympic athletes used it as a performance enhancer. It’s profound ability to treat addiction wasn’t discovered until the psychedelic revolution of the 1960s.
An Accidental Discovery of Ibogaine for Addiction
In 1962, a 19-year-old heroin addict named Howard Lotsof took Ibogaine with the hopes of having a psychedelic “trip.” Shortly into the experience, he discovered that all of his opioid withdrawals were completely gone.
After the effects of the Ibogaine had worn off, Lotsof still felt no withdrawal symptoms from the heroin he was addicted to. He shared his discovery with other addicts, and they reported similar results.
The news of Ibogaine’s potential for treating addiction made its way to the scientific community and research was started to confirm its abilities.
Studies continued until 1968 when Ibogaine was classified as a schedule one drug by the FDA. This made it illegal for any type of consumption within the US and classified it on the same level as drugs like heroin and crack cocaine.
Fortunately, research was continued in other countries where Ibogaine’s uses were refined with promising results. There are now a number of medical facilities, like Experience Ibogaine in Mexico, that are able to offer treatment with Ibogaine outside the US.
Iboga is also used as a spiritual guide at various Iboga retreats around the world.
Understanding How Ibogaine Works
Ibogaine works to restore balance to the brain while creating a uniquely spiritual experience at the same time. This type of multitiered approach is what makes this treatment so effective.
Ibogaine’s Effects on the Body
Every person experiences Ibogaine in a very individual way. The facility may request that you abstain from using any type of drugs or alcohol for certain period of time prior to treatment.
This allows the Ibogaine to work in your body unencumbered by other substances. Within the first 45 minutes of ingestion, 80% or more of the withdrawal symptoms are completely eliminated by the Ibogaine.
As the Ibogaine is metabolized, it restores chemical balance in the brain that was originally disrupted by prolonged substance abuse. During the first few hours of treatment you may experience a loss of control over your limbs or a feeling of immobility.
At this time, many of those who take Ibogaine begin to experience some of it’s psychedelic and spiritual effects. These effects usually last 8-12 hours, and it’s important to set aside at least two to three days after treatment for a full recovery.
Ibogaine’s Effects on the Psyche
Past trauma and other issues like anxiety and depression can contribute to drug addiction. Ibogaine can also help target underlying issues that can cause these issues.
Some addicts report having the ability to look back on traumatic experiences from a new and more objective viewpoint. This ability to connect the conscious and subconscious is part of what makes Ibogaine such a unique treatment method.
The deep thought process dedicated towards understanding the source of your addiction is something that can take years to accomplish using psychotherapy. Ibogaine helps target underlying trauma that can often lead to addiction.
It also inspires a feeling of calm and personal connection that shows people who they could be without the use of drugs and alcohol. This can be very beneficial to recovery and helps to enhance the treatment process.
Risks Associated with Ibogaine Treatment
Any type of medical treatment comes with its own set of risks. It’s important to choose an Ibogaine treatment facility that’s staffed by medical professionals. Never attempt to take Ibogaine on your own without complete medical supervision.
Treatment with Ibogaine has been shown to exacerbate certain heart conditions, and it’s important to undergo an EKG and other tests before being cleared for treatment.
Just remember to share any and all medical information with the staff at the treatment facility and to be completely transparent about any conditions that could cause problems. You should never choose a treatment method that poses a significant risk to your health or well-being.
Understanding Your Options
Even the best treatment methods will fail if the addict isn’t truly ready to get help. Ibogaine can be an intense experience, and it’s not something that people should undergo lightly. It’s important to get all of the necessary information and to find a facility that you can trust.
No two people turn to drugs for the same reasons. Because of this, each treatment plan will be a unique combination of therapies designed specifically for the addict. With everyone working together towards the same goal, recovery is possible.
About the Author