By Aeden Smith-Ahearn
Guest writer for Wake Up World
There are few people left in the US who haven’t been touched in some way by the opioid epidemic. The number of those with addiction is growing, and the leading cause of accidental death in the US has recently changed from car accidents to drug overdose.
This level of addiction has gone beyond epidemic proportions, and frequently makes the news as it progresses. Last year, over 60,000 people died from overdoses in the US alone. This number continues to grow each and every year.
The treatments that we have aren’t working, and far too many people can’t afford any type of long-term inpatient rehab. Drugs like heroin have a relapse rate of up to 90%. This means that even multiple visits to an inpatient facility isn’t enough to help the majority of people reach sobriety.
There’s a definite need to expand the available treatment options, and to find solutions that are more effective at breaking the opioid epidemic. This has led many to seek out alternative options like ibogaine which can assist users to break their physical addiction while coming to terms with the underlying emotional and spiritual causes.
What is Ibogaine?
Ibogaine is an ancient psychedelic that’s been used for thousands of years by tribes in West Africa. It’s a derivative of the root bark of the Tabernanthe Iboga shrub. Tribes like the Bwiti have built their entire belief system around the effects of ibogaine.
Considered one of the most potent psychedelic substances in the world, ibogaine can induce deeply spiritual states in people. Many tribes would use it as a way to get in touch with their spiritual side, and as a way to heal themselves.
It’s believed that ibogaine was originally introduced to these tribes by the much older pygmies that used to reside in the area.
By the 19th century French explorers had taken notice of the impact that ibogaine had on the African natives. They were intrigued by its effects and made the decision to bring it back to France.
Two French scientists discovered how to isolate the alkaloid found in the Iboga shrub. This allowed them to create a medication which was later marketed under the name Lambarene.
Lambarene contained a small amount of ibogaine and was used as a stimulant in France until the early 20th century when it made its way to the US. By the 1930s, this medication with being used heavily by Olympic athletes.
They discovered that it could enhance their performance and help them to do better. It was quickly identified as a performance enhancer and banned from use in professional sports.
But ibogaine’s impact on addiction wasn’t discovered until 1962, when a man named Howard Lotsof discovered this effect entirely by accident. Lotsof was attempting to have a psychedelic experience by taking a large dose of ibogaine.
He ended up getting more than he bargained for. After that intense experience, he realized that the ibogaine had actually stopped all of his withdrawal symptoms. He no longer had any physical effects from not using heroin.
This gave way to a scientific interest in ibogaine’s ability to fight addiction and in the impact that it has on the brain. Unfortunately, ibogaine was made illegal in 1967 during the height of the war on drugs.
It was categorized as a Schedule I drug and scientific study in the US was delayed until the 1990s. It did continue in other countries where it showed extreme promise in the treatment of addiction to opioids and other chemicals.
Currently, there are licensed medical clinics in places like Canada and Mexico that can offer ibogaine treatment therapy.
How Ibogaine Treats Addiction
In the treatment of addiction, ibogaine has been found to profoundly shorten the time that it takes an addict to recover. It also promotes a higher percentage of long-term recovery then almost any other treatment method.
Ibogaine works in two ways, the first is by addressing these physical symptoms of withdrawal, the second is during the psychedelic experience where ibogaine interacts with the brain on a psychological level.
The Physical Effect
Ibogaine has the ability to chemically reset the brain. When a person becomes chemically dependent on drugs or alcohol, their brain is actually replacing a portion of its natural chemicals with those introduced by the foreign substance.
When a person starts to detox from those drugs, the brain starts to send out distress signals to the body. The chemical balance is disrupted, and the person starts to experience physical withdrawal symptoms.
Within 45 minutes of the oral ingestion of ibogaine, these withdrawal symptoms almost completely stop. Treatment with the medication can eliminate anywhere from 60 to 100% of withdrawal symptoms in a few hours.
Ibogaine can take a few days to wear off. However, once the ibogaine has completely left the body, many addicts report that the majority of their withdrawal symptoms have not returned.
The entire ibogaine experience usually lasts anywhere from 8 to 12 hours. Residual effects can last up to 72 hours. Noribogaine, the after effect of ibogaine, can remain in the body for a period of up to three months after the initial treatment. It doesn’t have any of the psychedelic side effects but continues to help target opioid receptors in the brain.
The Psychological Effect
On a psychological level, Ibogaine induces a heavy psychedelic experience for about 60 percent of users. During this process, ibogaine allows the addicted person to connect to their subconscious. It can provide a valuable bridge between your past and your present, and this allows many drug users to come to terms with their reason for using drugs in the first place — such as unresolved past trauma, pain, or abuse.
The level of insight achieved by many people can help propel them forward, giving them giving them valuable insight into their addiction, and to help them change as a person.
It is often referred to as “years of therapy in 12 hours.” Ibogaine can help addicts by providing them with breakthrough moments and life lessons in recovery.
Ibogaine has risks just like any other medical treatment. This can include a heightened risk of heart problems, which can be fatal. Modern Ibogaine clinics require addicts to undergo strict medical and drug testing before being approved for treatment.
This is a treatment that isn’t right for everyone, and it’s very important that you find a licensed facility and experienced medical staff who can advise you on the best course of action.
Is Ibogaine Right for You?
Recovery is possible. It’s very important to recognize that you’re suffering from addiction, and to take the steps you need to get yourself to a better place. However no two people experience addiction in the same way. Treatment is a highly individual choice, and choosing the right treatment that works and feels right for you can be the difference between addiction and lifelong sobriety.
- https://experienceibogaine.com/ibogaine-addiction-treatment — How Ibogaine Works to Treat Addiction — Experience Ibogaine Treatment Centers, 2018.
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4382526 — The Anti-Addiction Drug Ibogaine and the Heart: A Delicate Relation — Molecules. 2015; 20(2): 2208–2228. Published online Jan 29, 2015. doi: 10.3390/molecules20022208
- https://www.theguardian.com/…/brain-scans-reveal-mind-opening-response-to-psychedelic-drug-trip-lsd-ketamine-psilocybin — Psychedelic drugs induce ‘heightened state of consciousness’, brain scans show — The Guardian. Published April 19, 2017.
- https://drugabuse.com/library/drug-withdrawal — Drug Withdrawal — DrugAbuse.com, an American Addiction Centers Resource.
About the author:
Aeden Smith-Ahearn is a former heroin addict who believes that every addict deserves a second chance to have a happy, successful life free from addiction. After 7 years of addiction, and living out of his car, Aeden put his last hope into Ibogaine treatment in Mexico. Now, 5 years later, Aeden has helped thousands of other addicts find freedom from addiction through Ibogaine and other plant medicines.
To learn more about how it works, why it works, and how it can help change your future, visit experienceibogaine.com.