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    Psychedelic Medicine
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    Frostbite Falls, MN

    The Treatment of Addiction with Ibogaine

    Addiction manifests differently in every individual, which makes treating it far from an exact science. The sheer number of different addictive substances and behaviors, symptoms of the disorder, and uniqueness of goals that people have for their healing process make it a distinctively challenging field of medicine. For people addicted to heroin and/or other opiates, treatment is most commonly an inpatient detoxification program that lasts anywhere from 30-90 days (detoxification itself, however, lasts 3-7 days). During this time, their initial withdrawal symptoms are managed, followed by an abstinence (twelve-step) program or maintenance with Methadone. There's nothing specifically wrong with Methadone itself as it has been observed to help patients abstain from heroin use for an extended period of time. The current providers of Methadone, however, have lost sight of the humanitarian nature of distributing medicine, opting instead for a notoriously indifferent or even aggressive mentality. Because the detox process is so unpleasant and tough on the body, there is a persistent interest in finding ways that help alleviate withdrawal symptoms for a faster recovery.

    A relatively recent development in the treatment of addiction is Ibogaine, a naturally occurring substance found in the roots of a rain forest plant. African tribal peoples are aware of this substance and use it for various purposes. Ibogaine came into popular use in 1960s in the United States as a psychedelic but was not recognized as helpful in curbing the negative side effects of healing from addiction. It's difficult to make a perfect comparison between Ibogaine and conventional detox treatment largely because of the difference in timeframe. As noted above, conventional detox programs are typically 30-90 days long, whereas current Ibogaine therapy lasts anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks.

    Another challenge in comparison is that the results have been recorded differently up to this point. Ibogaine therapy success has been characterized by subjects' complete abstinence from the drug, whereas success of conventional treatment is measured more vaguely, such as reduction of drug use or improvement of related consequences (health, familial, social, economical). Interestingly, the emergence of Ibogaine for addiction treatment has caused a feud between addiction self-help groups and drug activists who claim that making Ibogaine more readily available would hinder their efforts to legalize hard drugs. The general medical community and pharmaceutical industry, in turn, have wanted little to do with it thus far, despite initial positive indications that ibogaine is more effective in treating addiction to opiates than current treatments. There is evidence that its active ingredient, noribogaine, remains in the body for weeks or even months after initial administration, making it also a longer-lasting treatment option. This ingredient can also be combined with other chemically-compatible substances to further shorten the length of the detoxifying process.


    Ibogaine is believed to act on a number of different neurotransmitter systems in the brain that may contribute to ibogaine's ability to suppress the autonomic changes, objective signs, and subjective distress associated with opiate withdrawal. A dysphoric mood (i.e. depression, anxiety) is believed to be a factor in whether an addict will relapse because cravings become more difficult to manage at this time. An aspect of the chemical makeup of Ibogaine, the 5-HT transporter, has been observed to have an antidepressant effect. Consequently, it seems to improve the mental state of drug-dependent test subjects while managing physical withdrawal symptoms. Because maintenance with Methadone typically has the goal of eventual complete detoxification, the use of medications to facilitate this transition is a clinically important treatment strategy. Anecdotal reports, which make up much of ibogaine research at this stage, suggest that Ibogaine has promise as an alternative medicinal approach for making this transition. Enough research by independent groups, both anecdotal and clinical, has been done on the chemical makeup of Ibogaine to determine that this drug has promise as a new tool for addiction treatment that promotes rapid detoxification- more so than any other observed substance of its kind.

    In an Ibogaine study carried out by the Departments of Neurology and Pharmacology at the University of Miami School of Medicine, 32 individuals with active dependency on opiates were given a fixed dose of Ibogaine for 12-14 days. The patients' withdrawal symptoms were evaluated by physicians at multiple points during treatment, then again by a psychiatrist to evaluate their mental state. Throughout their time at the treatment facility, the subjects performed self-assessment using several standardized formats which measured items like mood and substance cravings.


    The physician ratings of withdrawal symptoms demonstrated that Ibogaine caused a rapid detoxification from opiates. Additionally, many of the subjects were able to abstain from the source of their addiction for months after treatment. There was also decreased prevalence of cravings, which is an important indicator of continued drug use or relapse. Ibogaine, after extensive testing on primates and other lab animals, has been deemed a safe substance, but patients with any history of cardiac abnormalities were barred from the study given that Ibogaine is known to have an impact on the cardiovascular system. This impact was investigated in the 1950s as a potential antihypertensive medication because, at certain doses, it may lower blood pressure and heart rate. Withdrawal, on the other hand, is associated with an increased pulse, blood pressure, and respiration. Of the 150+ drug-dependent subjects tested with Ibogaine by the University of Miami School of Medicine to date, no significantly negative side effects have been observed. Several cocaine-dependent subjects were observed to have a hypotensive response, which simply required closer monitoring of vitals; the cardiovascular changes were able to be remedied by a decrease in Ibogaine dosage. While it is encouraging that all effects of Ibogaine were well tolerated by the test subjects from this study, it doesn't eradicate the possibility of other unusual medical risks that may come with a larger sample size.


    Based on verbal responses from test subjects, ibogaine appears to have added psychological benefits as compared to conventional treatment for addiction. Subjects undergoing Ibogaine addiction treatment displayed a trend of increased self-motivation and a more positive outlook on their healing process than patients undergoing traditional treatment. This could perhaps be related to the drug's inception as a non-clinical self-help substance. Unlike most medicines, Ibogaine began its journey with individual users who felt empowered by its use as a self-help tool to treat their addiction. This doesn't mean that Ibogaine will never make it as a clinical addiction drug, but the complexity of philosophies associated will likely cause unique issues as things move forward. As previously noted, addiction therapy is a constantly changing branch of medicine due to the many unusual variables it presents. Unfortunately, "the pharmaceutical industry for reasons of liability, perceived lack of profit, a lack of emphasis in the development of medications to treat chemical dependence, and a desire not to be associated with the stigma of the drug user population chose not to involve itself in ibogaine development." Data suggests that Ibogaine can be highly effective in the detoxification of the human body following opiate-dependency; and, anecdotal evidence suggests that it may be effective in treating some psychiatric aspects underlying addiction. Up until this point, there has been a tendency towards a different medication for each individual type substance abuse (alcohol, heroin, methadone, etc). Only recently has the medical community been driven to accept the possibility that one medicinal addiction drug can be effective in treating multiple forms of dependency. One would hope that, should Ibogaine prove to be the best effective treatment for drug addicts, that the politics and controversy surrounding the issue will not deter any progress in advancing the drug towards clinical use.


    Ibogaine treatment notes from Brian Mariano

    Right after the first international conference on ibogaine held in New York, Dec 1999, I was introduced into ibogaine treatment by my colleague and friend Karl Naeher and since then I'm doing this work. I started with giving my friends ibogaine sessions for consciousness exploration purposes with the intent to start a similar work like the INTASH was doing (International Coalition for Addicts Self Help). For few months I was wondering where the hell shall I find this first addict to begin with. I always lived in a drug free environment and the world of drugs was very far away from my own. Once being at my mother's place, my mother mentioned that she met in a spa near Prague a very nice lady which unfortunately has got a son addicted to drugs. Addicted such a long time that there's practically no chance he'll ever get out of it and I thought, "Yes, that's precisely the guy I need!" The name of this guy was Daniel, age 34, and was on drugs 15 years, taking both opiates and crystal. He started taking drugs in prison were he was put at the age of 19 while doing the military service for saying some innocent comments against the communism. My mother arranged a meeting with Daniel and his mother at which I tried to explain the purpose of the treatment. Daniel's mother thought, "It's not going to work but there's also nothing to lose." Daniel thought, "It's not going to work but, wow, if this stuff is so expensive it must be hell of a high! And if this guy is even willing to sponsor it to me, why not take a ride!"

    Well, I can assure you that he soon understood that ibogaine is not about getting high, but still he didn't want to believe me concerning the healing part. Every day he kept wondering where are the withdrawals. "I should be shivering, I should be sweating. But nothing. How can I have forgotten to smoke a cigarette for two days when I used to smoke a pack daily?" Ten days after the treatment he took some opiates and fortunately told me. I asked "Why did you do that? You got some cravings back?" "No," he replied. "It's just that it's so unusual to feel so different, to be without anything for so many days." We did a second treatment, and since then he's clean. It's now about 18 or 19 months that he's leading a drug free life. It wasn't easy. For almost a year from time to time, different things were coming up from his subconscious, pushing him to relapse but he was strong enough to deal with it. Now I have a big consideration for his effort because soon I realized that many others in much better situations either foolishly reject the new chance or simply are too weak or spoiled or simply get frightened by the challenge of leading a normal life of a non-addict.

    From time to time I'm asked what's my success rate, what's ibogaine's success rate and similar questions. These are very misleading questions. Treating addiction is not like treating cancer. Addiction is not strictly a medical condition, that's the point.

    To give an example, I treated a young heroin addict once. The first treatment eliminated withdrawals and cravings but he got back to drugs almost immediately, treated him a second time two weeks later and did the same thing. Of course the parents were paying all the expenses. He, later begging his parents to pay for his third treatment admitted that he threw away all the chances the ibogaine gave him to painlessly pass to a drug-free life. Hia parents nevertheless felt so cheated that they refused to pay for a third treatment, and I don't know how is he doing now. So, as far as I can see, ibogaine did its regular job and was 100% successful, unfortunately the achievements were deliberately thrown away. The feeling that I had from him was that he was a cynical and careless individual and that drugs only enhanced these "qualities." Many other addicts are basically sensible and potentially good individuals. I have about a 50% success rate but this is an irrelevant information. Some of the clients received just one treatment, some two or three, some had some aftercare, some hadn't, some wanted to get out of drugs, some didn't.

    Lately I treated two clients addicted to crack and two addicted to Oxycontin. For those of you who don't know Oxycontin is a very strong painkiller which is now causing problems especially on the eastern coast of the US. It's an opiate, it releases slowly morphine into the body. Highly addictive. It's prescribed for example for people who got injured. Of the two clients on Oxycontin one was a prison guard who started having problems with back pain after being beaten in a riot during his duty. The problems got worse after a car accident. He was treated with Oxycontin for many years. The other one had a car accident, got treated with Oxycontin and simply couldn't stop. Age of both around 30. Of the two clients addicted to crack, one was a black businessman from L.A., age around 45, the other one was white, 35 years old, working in a restaurant. All were intelligent people sincerely concerned about their addiction, and all were extremely satisfied from the treatment. Those on Oxycontin experienced just some withdrawal symptoms within 48 hours from intake, those on crack didn't. The cravings disappeared to all of them. Now what is interesting, those who were addicted to Oxycontin are still clean. Those who were addicted to crack are not. The black businessman told me one or two weeks afterwards, that he felt great, no cravings at all and especially excited was from the ability to see all his problems crystal clear, things he wasn't able to see before were more than visible now. He told me that he got back to abusing crack within the first week because of the frustrations with his wife, but that as soon as he'll settle things in his private life he'll come to take a second treatment to really get clean.

    Unfortunately, he had some financial and other problems, so I didn't manage to get in touch with him, and no second treatment took place. The other one was clean several months, no cravings, then for some reason relapsed and I can't get in touch with him too. The prison guard is now successfully medicated with Tradol for his back pain, the other one got into a deeper depression several days after the treatment and is medicated with Zoloft. Actually I told him that preventatively he should start taking some antidepressants right after the treatment, like Prozac or Zoloft. I told him that usually the sudden interruption of Oxycontin intake provokes depression. He didn't listen to me and eventually was forced to start taking the antidepressants. He's been prescribed Zoloft. Now he's going to take a second treatment in January. But what is important, both of them are out the Oxycontin and have no cravings at all. This is to illustrate the difference between treating addiction as a medical condition and treating addiction with everything that is related to it,like psychological and social issues.

    Of course, there are certain differences among the outcomes that ibogaine delivers according to the kind of drug one is abusing. For example for heroin or crack it works marvelously. Right after the first treatment, both withdrawals and cravings are gone or almost. Some need few days to stabilize this result. The basic requirements must be respected of course, like no heroin at least 12 hours before the ibogaine administration, no methadone at least 24 hours before.

    Basically, the longer is one clean before the treatment the smoother it goes and the better is the outcome. With methadone of course it's not so easy. It depends a lot from the daily dose one is currently taking, but hardly can be expected the total methadone need elimination after just a single dose of ibogaine. I had one case which was on 70 mg/daily of methadone. Right after the first treatment his need dropped to 20 mg. Virtually overnight. One approach is also that the client is switched to morphine for some days and then the treatment would take place. I cannot tell you more about that because I'm not accepting people on methadone anymore, and I think that medical ibogaine treatment for such cases would be more appropriate. Concerning alcohol dependency, I didn't have such a client yet, but I've heard that it works well enough. Concerning smoking addiction the success rate is low, but gets better with the number of treatments. Nevertheless, I had few clients that quit smoking right after the first treatment. It really helps with nicotine addiction but the bigger part of the problem lays in the habit of smoking, and this is something that is out of reach of the ibogaine. Usually cigarettes don't taste much after the treatment, alcohol the same, heroin is felt only physically without the high. Of course, if you take the drug few times and, it will taste good as always and you get addicted again.

    After some time I slowly started to be able to forecast at least who definitely doesn't have the chance to quit drugs with simple overnight treatments, and I told the parents that unless their son or daughter won't be in a protected environment right after the first treatment, and a second one won't follow let's say one month after the first one, it would be just a waste of their money and my time. When things were done this way the results improved considerably. Not everybody will make good use of what was achieved but there's always been a progress in their perspective and I believe it won't get lost. After all, the ibotherapy's purpose is to give a fair chance to quit drugs if one wants to without having to constantly suffer the cravings. If one doesn't want to quit, ibogaine won't force him.

    Having said all this I guess that I can come to the following statement: In spite of the fact that ibogaine is not far from being a miraculous treatment tool, the way it's generally used till the present time is highly ineffective and wasting ibogaine's potential. I'm talking about the overnight treatments not included in an integrated treatment program. Treatments done by lay ibotherapists like me who don't have treatment facilities or teams of therapists. The ibogaine simply needs to be incorporated in the already existing addiction treatment network and then it will show its real potential. Of course, there's not only the issue of efficacy, but also safety. Ibogaine is not toxic itself, but some of the contraindications can be very dangerous in the conditions of non-medical treatments. You may know of the few casualties that happened in the past. The main contraindication is to opiates. You can tell the addict a thousand times that he can die if he takes opiates too close to the ibogaine intake. They don't care. Always some addict hides some stuff and sometimes tries to take some to feel better during the treatment. One can have a hidden health problem or lie about his health condition. Ibogaine is fairly irritating to the stomach and in combination with a gastrointestinal infection for example, can provoke a lasting vomiting that can be dangerous. Ulcer abscess can be dangerous too, obviously, in this regard. Liver in bad shape can be a problem. A hundred times it can go smoothly, and the one hundred and first you just drip with sweat.

    Nevertheless, these are things that in a clinical environment I suppose could hardly represent a threat. Physicians are right saying that as far as we're talking about illness treatment, treating a health condition, ibogaine should be in their hands. Unfortunately it`s not yet so. On one hand we lay ibotherapists can give new chances to a number of people and on the the other we're carrying a substantial risk and the ibogaine itself is usually not sufficient to let the addict quit drugs. It just eliminates the addiction itself and opens up the addict a little bit. The change is too sudden. The addict needs time to change perspective and not get scared by the challenge of entering the normal life. Talking about possible problems, once upon a while happen unexpected things. Usually ibogaine doesn't touch mental capabilities. At most one can get lightly confused during the peak. But what happened: once a client of mine went mentally insane for several days, talking complete nonsense and not being able to divide reality from fantasies. It was rather scary. Never ever happened something like this to me. Suddenly he fully got back to normality. For ibogaine, that's a very exceptional reaction, but sometimes things like this may happen. Paradoxically ibogaine usually enhances one's awareness. One gets aware of so many things he wasn't aware for years, even in the case one doesn't get any explicit visions or insights during the treatment itself.

    I hope that in the near future I'll have the possibility to dedicate myself fully to the promotion of the ibogaine, offer medical ibogaine treatments with appropriately designed inpatient programs. Leave the treatments to the medical staff. In other words, to do things right.

    The reasons of my involvement with ibogaine are related to my following beliefs: I believe that in our life not many things are really so meaningful compared to helping others. But I believe that true help is given only when we help others to change from the inside. Ibogaine has got the potential to help people to change from the inside. I never encountered in my life a substance that was be so insight-oriented [like ibogaine]. The combination of ibogaine's anti-addictive property with its insights-giving property makes of ibogaine a tremendous healing substance. Despite this nobody knows about it, and only few people on Earth work with it.
    Last edited by mr peabody; 31-12-2018 at 00:24.
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    Frostbite Falls, MN

    Journey into the realm of ibogaine

    by Nick Sand

    In 1964, when psychedelics were still legal, I obtained three doses of ibogaine. I had been doing extensive exploration with LSD, peyote, DMT, and mescaline, both in my laboratory as chief alchemist for the League of Spiritual Discovery, and internally on my own quest for illumination. Always on the lookout for new and effective ways to access God-consciousness, I was eager to try ibogaine. I'd heard fascinating stories about ibogaine from older friends who had turned me on to my first psychedelic experience with mescaline. One told of a parade of cosmic proportions. Another described a pageant of incredible detail and completely realistic visions, like watching a movie. These were some of the tantalizing descriptions presented to me about ibogaine.

    LSD tends to magnify, intensify and empower the vision of a timeless moment. DMT, on the other end of the tryptamine spectrum, tends to transport one into a totally “other” realm, replete with elaborate and intensely colorful designs, strange guardian creatures, and visitations from divine messengers. Having retrieved rich treasures of spiritual secrets from the DMT realms, I am intrigued by the descriptions of ibogaine.

    Looking through my anthropology books, I found passages describing members of the Bwiti cult in central Africa using Tabernanthe iboga, a traditional plant source for ibogaine, in ceremonies to visit their ancestors and receive instructions. In lower doses, ibogaine is said to give hunters the ability to stay motionless for many hours while they became one with the jungle.

    My two intrepid cosmic companions, Alan and Raymond, and myself are all enthusiastic about trying it. We decide to take it at their flat in Brooklyn Heights—a brownstone building that had fallen into disrepair—that lay on the boundary between the black and Puerto Rican neighborhoods. They had fixed the fireplace and transformed the flat into a psychedelic temple. Now assembled, we discuss the preparations. We fast for two days and spend the day before quietly reading, meditating, and doing yoga to ensure the best possible experience. We disconnected the phone and put a “do not disturb, meditation in progress” sign up on the door.

    We each take about 800 mg of ibogaine hydrochloride, a chalky white powder with a bitter, earthy taste. We sit on mattresses arranged on a carpet around the fire. We wait one, two, three hours, and nothing happens. The fire burns low, but no one moves to build it up. The shadows grew long and night fell. Simultaneously, we all lay down, as the lethargy that had subtly been coming on grows more intense. I have no desire to move. Everything is silent and still. I feel that I am in a soft, humming, electric cocoon that gives me little “funny bone” shocks if I touch it.

    I am in the middle, centered between euphoria and depression. I feel balanced. My sense perceptions are heightened. The little glow from the fire brightens the whole room. My eyes focus in a different way—clear, but taking everything in. And then the room starts to spin. It is similar to an alcohol drunkenness, but with no feeling of vertigo or nausea at all. I am glad that I fasted! The whirling increases and I feel like I am in the center of a pinwheel. Faster and faster it spins, and then I am rising like a projectile through the room—with great chunks of wall and brick peeling back and falling away in slow motion. I shoot up into the stars: a pair of disembodied eyes wandering, searching. I am an essence - a solo awareness flying through the universe, exploring, seeking.

    After an immense journey, I come to a planet. It is a sandy yellow color. I am able to project my vision down to it, and I look around the surface of the planet. It is an inhospitable looking place; with winds strong enough to blow rocks and sand past me. It looks lethally hot and dry. I move on. Next, I come to a dark green planet. No clouds. No seas. No mountains. It looks as though it is covered with a poisonous mold. I do not want to go any closer. I continue on through the galaxies until I arrive above a whirling vortex that is coalescing into a solar system. I watched a sun and its planets form, and come closer to observe. I am drawn to one of the middle planets. The fiery liquid surface is cooling and turning from yellow and red to black solids, broken by red rivers of lava emitting flames. Slowly, the planet cools until fumes and vapors veil the entire surface. As I circle the planet, I sense a long epoch of torrential rains, as water vapor forms and condenses in the upper atmosphere and falls toward the burning surface, only to evaporate again long before reaching the ground. Eventually, the planet cools and the rains arrive on the lands below. After what seems like a long time, the clouds begin to clear. I scan the planet now, seeing and being everything that I come across. I watch mountain chains rise and volcanoes burst, and everything subside again and again into flat plains and meandering rivers. Time and time again, mountains rise and dissolve and continents appear and disappear. Then this slows down, and I watch the seas and plains. All is sterile—a tan land with smoking volcanoes and no life, yet fecund and ready.

    As I watch, I see life appear. I observe spots of green forming along the seashores. They shoot along the banks, forming a green margin, and then run up the rivers and tributaries like the veins in a leaf. The barren spaces between these branches are filled with proliferating plant life. The oceans seem to be teeming with life, and then the first bug-like creatures start to crawl out on land. They spread all over, rapidly changing into a variety of insects and strange lobster-like creatures. Fern-like plants appear. Vast varieties of life appear and then disappear. Elaborate life experiments succeed one another with awesome complexity.

    Then suddenly I am in a steaming swamp-like environment that looked familiar. With awe and amazement, I realize that I am watching the age of the dinosaur, and it slowly dawns on me that I am witness to the history of life evolving on the planet Earth! With a speed that defies accurate recall, life forms change again and again, spreading and multiplying in a dizzying array of shapes and colors. Humanoid creatures appear and soon after are hunting, then farming and building. Civilizations bloom, spread, and subside, like bubbles on a fermenting pond. Ages of war and conquest express the speed of civilization and technology. I witness slaughter and mayhem, torture and mutilation, rape and castration. Man’s inhumanity to man is illustrated in myriad forms. I am there, “in” it, feeling it as both the doer and the done to. For what seems an interminably long time, civilizations rise and fall in inter-folding waves of creation, and brilliant innovations in arts and sciences, only to fall in smoking ruins followed by ages of darkness.

    Then, points of light appear in the dark, interconnecting in new waves of discovery and renaissance. Undulating waves of humanity are crashing and washing over the planet in a succession of expansion and contraction. As I live through this flux and change, there arises in me an awareness of the noble and brave potential of humanity and its duty as the intelligent species to protect the forests and life forms and water of the planet. I experience a feeling of the sacred unity with all life. I see the whole planet’s surface as one organism, inhabited by one spirit, growing its forests to protect its surface and provide even moisture and temperature for all its creatures. I see one species, humanity, as the natural intelligent guardian of all life. I realize that it is humanity’s intelligence that must understand, preserve, and care for the earth’s surface—and life that is its nutrient substrate, its womb, and its mother. I feel how all life was precious, interconnecting, and supportive of all other life. I dedicate my spirit not to destroy any part of this puzzle of divine mystery that is the milk of creation. Throughout, there is this balance, and an acknowledgment of the intertwining of opposites, the negative and positive, the base and noble. This feeling flows through me as a dual aspect of one energy - total, deep... sweeping me away on this immense journey of life’s history. It was like falling in love, so entrancing was this vision.

    Hours had elapsed. The fire was long gone, yet this movie continued with fantastic detail, one pageant coming on the heels of another. An example of the incredible detail that ibogaine shows: through my constantly available “zoom lens,” I am observing a French king and his retinue during a formal promenade in the gardens of Versailles. Of this large group of people in courtly splendor, one woman’s dress catches my eye. I can see from a great distance the hem of her dress, an intricate and tiny embroidery of inter-linked fleur-de-lis. Simultaneously, I see both immense and complicated scenes and vistas as well as small details with great precision. On and on it goes, and I never move. This peak experience goes on for at least 14 hours. I am watching scenes from the industrial revolution when the sun shows through the window. The movie continues in stronger and weaker waves, dimming in the light and finally fading out, although I know it is still going on at some internal level. Although I can move around now, I am still high, and it is still going on 24 hours later. This is a long trip!

    By afternoon, we are all getting pretty hungry. I decide to brave the world and pick up some food at the corner store. I exit the house, which was located on the black side of the street, and head for a Puerto Rican store on the opposite corner. This is New York, a place where people don’t usually greet strangers on the street. I walk past this old man who glances up and says, “Hello.” Down at the corner I meet a black woman; we also greet each other and smile. I cross the street and enter the store. Pretty soon I am chatting and joking with the owners, and they are putting extra fruit in my bag as gifts. As I exit the store and cross the street, on my return I have to pass through a group of young black gang members who had just arrived. To my surprise they let me pass with no incident. What was going on? As I walk back it hits me. I know where we all came from. We all came from the same source—the same mother. There is no difference between us. I see it, I feel it... I AM it, and that is recognizable instantly by others. I am transformed into a being at one with all other life. Racism and prejudice are incomprehensible to me. I know where we all come from, from the same universe: we are all one.

    What I learned from this trip is that there is a new paradigm arising for humankind. Transcending mind, one finds the spirit or soul. Rejecting the bias of politics and the destructiveness of fear, one finds that life and unity and harmony are served by love. Humanity’s role as guardian of the planet becomes all too urgent as we go beyond the carrying capacity of the planet’s surface. This is the dream we must realize: to bring back the health of life and nature on this planet. Protect the womb that has borne us and still serves us. Bring back the forests, let the waters run clean, and live in love and harmony with each other. It is time to understand the roots of fear and deal with them. Let us join in a dance to celebrate life and love and rediscover the beauty of inner sacredness.

    What is this stuff called ibogaine that tastes like earth and lets you see your ancestors? Is it a DNA-designed communication link to our origins? How far back are these origins? Are we visitors from space, planted here on the wings of the God-DNA? Is this cosmic panorama it reveals created to give humanity a real look at our history to understand who we are and how we are connected to the universe? One thing is certain: ibogaine is one of the true, deep psychedelics. It is flesh of the Gods. Use it with preparation, respect, and care, and you may grant yourself a taste of truth, a vision into the nature of reality and an inspiration to enter into the path of unity and knowing.

    One of richest uses of psychedelics is giving them enough time and attention to allow the sacred messages to filter through and become meaningful. A day before for preparation and one afterwards for contemplation is ideal. The peyote people would spend the morning after, for a traditional breakfast and sharing the visions they had had and finding meanings in these messages from beyond. In like manner, we can also find new meanings for these visions as the years deepen our perspectives.

    As time passed, I wondered who it could have been that was seeing the evolution of life on our planet. Many years later I came across two ideas that gave new meaning and depth to these ibogaine visions. The first idea came when I read about an explorer in the Amazon questioning the chief of the Mayoruna about the purpose of all the intense psychedelic journeys that the entire tribe participated in. He said that the purpose was "to go back to the beginning." The second idea came after reading Jeremy Narby’s book The Cosmic Serpent. I realized that it is quite possible the DNA molecule has an extraterrestrial origin. In fact, due to its complexity, and the relatively short window it has had to evolve on this earth, DNA’s evolution here is likely just another geocentric earthling myth.

    Putting these two ideas together started a process that gave a whole new meaning to my ibogaine vision. I was going back to the beginning... to the beginning of life on this planet. Certainly, it was not my persona that was going back, so what or who WAS going back, and WHO was the “I”... observing and so intensely participating in all these lives and journeys? Suddenly I realize the common denominator and the origin of life is the DNA that we all carry, whether it be the simplest bacteria... or modern man. Now my vision takes on a whole new meaning—our consciousness predates this solar system. I've gone back to the beginning, to where I (and all of us) are space-borne DNA... looking for a new home to create life. I'd been traveling... searching one solar system after another until coming to the nascent solar system we now call home. I rush down to the surface, after waiting eons for conditions to be right for the formation of life. Down I go, creating new life... evolving from the beginning... into the vast mystery...

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    How one ibogaine clinic has learned from its mistakes

    by Jeremy Weate

    In this guest post by experienced ibogaine facilitator Jeremy Weate, we hear about the challenges and risks of ibogaine therapy, and the measures that all ibogaine clinics need to take in order to ensure the safe integration of ibogaine therapy into mainstream society.

    After first hearing about iboga around ten years ago (from a friend, on a London bus!), I knew that I would get drawn in. I’d spent 12 years living in Nigeria: and finding out there was an African entheogenic spirit tradition – Bwiti – from the next-door region of the continent – the Congo basin – was seismically interesting. Fast forward to 2017, and I first met Alvaro de Ferranti at an ibogaine forum in Vienna I co-organized. Jump again to July 2018, and we found ourselves opening an iboga retreat centre in Portugal.

    Alvaro’s route to ibogaine had been somewhat different to mine. He had tried both hypnosis and luxury rehabs, only for a visionary flood dose of iboga to finally blast away the remnants of a cocaine addiction that had threatened to implode his life as a successful London-based businessman and father. After an intensive period attempting to bring clinical trials of ibogaine to Portugal, developing a research protocol, hiring a highly qualified team and engaging senior government officials only to fall at the last insurmountable financial hurdle, Alvaro became an ibogaine provider. He initially went the Airbnb route to ibogaine treatment before deciding that opening a fully fledged ibogaine clinic was the best use of his time.

    Both of us shared the same vision: offering ibogaine treatments, mainly to addicts, in a holistic setting with a strong focus of pre- and aftercare, avoiding the “drive thru ibogaine” that is all too often found elsewhere. Instead of the four or five day reset that these retreats typically offer, we would take a two week visit as the absolute minimum, meaning that repeat visits are less likely and long-term recovery is improved.

    Alvaro had bought a nine-hectare property in a gloriously tranquil and beautiful part of rural Portugal – the Alentejo, up country from the Algarve – complete with ancient rocks, an olive grove and its own stream. A strong motivation was to bring the best of his luxury rehab experience to an ibogaine facility. While many ibogaine clinics shy away from traditional rehab methods, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, the 12-Step method, and counselling; Alvaro saw the benefits of mainstream addiction treatment – so as not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Things fell into place remarkably quickly on the HR front: miraculously, we found a spiritually-attuned Portuguese doctor who was willing to take a punt in an unlicensed field of medicine. Holistic therapists gravitated towards us as if gliding along freshly constructed ley lines. Our therapy offering now includes holotropic breathwork, kundalini yoga, meditation, massage, equine therapy, vocal toning, light therapy, and drumming/sound therapy, as well as access to other plant medicines including kambo and psilocybin. Again, with traditional rehab best practice in mind, we also hired a fitness coach as well as a counsellor: talk-therapy to complement our holistic healing offering.

    In terms of the medical side, we flew the fabulous Jamie Mac of Iboga Safe – the only ibogaine safety training outfit out there – to train the team. Joining Jamie was veteran ibogaine provider Anwar Jeewa, who flew up from Durban to lend a calming hand.

    It was at this point that we realised that ibogaine treatment can be really tough. Dosing is not the simplistic matter of keeping under a mg/kg ceiling; each person’s body metabolizes ibogaine (and its sister alkaloids) differently, based on previous drug use, the presence of a key enzyme, and a host of other factors. There is not enough scientific research or shared practitioner wisdom on dosing. Providers can swing either side of an unpleasant dilemma: play it safe, underdose, and undersatisfy; or be bold, knock out the addiction but risk an adverse event? Jamie helped us understand the importance of measuring QT intervals pre- and during treatment, and how to stay safe at all times.

    We also teamed up with an Ibogaine counselling service that offered excellent pre- and post-ibogaine treatment counselling, ensuring our clients arrived highly motivated to change their life.

    We felt prepared and ready. And then we had our first clients.

    A – our very first client and from the UK – suffered from both a nasty spice addiction (going quickly into withdrawal if he didn’t smoke every hour) and a cocaine habit. There is precious little information available on treating spice addiction with ibogaine (or any other treatment modality for that matter). To make matters worse, “spice” is the generic name for a motley crew of research chemicals. We were shooting blind. A nice way to start!

    A was a tough client. Child abandonment issues came to the fore as we spent the first week weaning him off the drugs with holistic treatments and counselling in advance of ibogaine treatment. Witnessing surfacing rage was a little scary. In the end, A made it through over three weeks with us, and is now starting a new life in California. Our baptism included fire.

    Our second client, M, was another story. A decade long opium habit had reduced his body to a shambling husk. Again, we spent a few days putting him through our holistic treatments, such as breathwork and kundalini yoga. Then it was time for his treatment. Alongside our doctor, I was one of the sitters. I witnessed M going into a cardiogenic seizure, with jaws clamping shut and body shaking as his heart stopped. Luckily our medical team defibbed M within a few seconds and he came back to life. Our emergency plan kicked in and M was taken in an ambulance to the cardiology ward in the nearby hospital.

    It was only later that we discovered that M had been taking the Kava Kava supplement – which interacts very poorly with ibogaine. From that moment on, we learnt not to trust what clients tell us they have been ingesting as the whole story.

    Since then, with each client we have treated, we have learnt some tough lessons. Ibogaine treatment for addiction is bloody hard work requiring a committed and balanced team. Staffs need to regularly take time out to avoid burnout. Even in a medical setting, it is not possible to guarantee against adverse events, even if this setting reduces the risk of a fatality to close to zero.

    Here are the main things we have learned:

    - Safety is the number one priority. While we would love all our clients to have incredible visionary experiences that take them to the root of their trauma and enable them to transcend suffering through ibogaine, this is in fact an impossible dream. Conservative dosing is of paramount importance.

    - Emergency planning is vital. If an adverse event happens and it is heart-related, you have just a few seconds to avoid a fatality. Before each client treatment, we go through the emergency plan so that it is fresh in everyone’s mind. It’s never a good feeling to have to call the ambulance, but the most important thing is that all our clients stay safe, all the time.

    - Flood doses are not for everyone. While some bodies can withstand a heavy (20mg/kg+) dose of ibogaine, many people cannot. A brain reset through ibogaine does not require such heavy doses in any case.

    - Ibogaine doesn’t work in isolation. While we knew all along that ibogaine is not a miracle cure, we were guilty (along with many others in the community) of ibogaine evangelism. We’ve learnt that ibogaine is a powerful addiction interrupting tool, but its only one tool in a much larger box in terms of long-term recovery. Working with ibogaine makes you less evangelistic and more realistic about its limited (but powerful) benefits.

    - Conventional addiction counselling and holistic treatments are the best combination together with iboga. Clients need to talk and release what’s on their mind, but they also need energetic healing (via holistic therapy). In combination with ibogaine, this triumvirate of treatment modalities delivers a powerful restart to a life free of addiction

    - Pre-treatment therapy is vital, including the lever of postponing treatment if the client is deemed not ready. Pre-treatment therapy – especially the narrative approach which emphasises dissociation from the addicted self and the hero’s journey of taking ibogaine – breaks open the head and can push the client to deepen their intention and resolve to be substance-free.

    - Aftercare is also vital. One of the best aspects of conventional addiction treatment is the fellowship – the fellowships of the 12 Step movement and buddying-up mentoring. We’ve learnt that ibogaine therapy for addiction does not replace these conventional treatment modalities; rather it complements them. Offering weekly therapy meetings with clients online is recommended for as long as is required. The vision is that all those who have recovered through ibogaine treatment will join this self-supporting movement.

    Unfortunately, there is a culture of secrecy around adverse events in the ibogaine community (for obvious reasons: no one wants to lose their reputation, lose business to other clinics or be forced to close down). In the journey towards medicalization of the medicine, we must not shy away from acknowledging our own adverse events, eating humble pie, and learning from our mistakes.
    Last edited by mr peabody; 14-01-2019 at 12:44.
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    Ibogaine: A Call to Action and a Demand for Integrity

    An inside look at the history, myths and reality of ibogaine.

    If you want to trace the more recent history of ibogaine, look at its evolution from relative obscurity to a source of popular discussion.

    We are in fact witnesses to a worldwide revolution in the use of ibogaine, a shift from 1,000 treatment episodes to over 100 self-styled “ibogaine clinics” that treat 1,000 drug-dependent individuals each year.

    Aside from its use in Gabon and Cameroon, aside from its consumption among the indigenous people of West Africa to reduce fatigue, hunger and thirst, the exoticism of ibogaine – including its use in spiritual initiation ceremonies – is a thing of the past.

    Ibogaine is now a substance at the forefront of medical treatment and media coverage, as well as a source of study and serious scholarship.

    The Origins of Ibogaine: Know the Facts

    The pharmacology of ibogaine is extensive, the subject of medical research in 1901 and a topic for publication in scientific literature amid the early part of the 20th century.

    From its introduction in France during the 1930s, where it would become a commercial drug (with 5-8 mg of ibogaine per tablet), to its removal from the marketplace in 1968, ibogaine is not some mysterious substance for which there is scant information and even less laboratory testing.

    Indeed, the use of ibogaine to treat heroin addiction is the product of science: Its validation by Howard S. Lotsof, by way of his own attempt to treat his addiction to heroin, is a seminal moment in the history of ibogaine; a milestone in which a single dose of ibogaine would end this man's craving, both physical and psychological, for heroin; an occasion for inspiration – a catalyst for further experimentation – where Lotsof would earn a series of patents relating to the use of ibogaine, thereby impressing the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to investigate ibogaine as a potential treatment for drug dependence among humans.

    This backstory is important because, despite attempts to delegitimize ibogaine and/or depict it as too dangerous to use, there is a lot of credible science – and plenty of support from mainstream scientific institutions – involving ibogaine.

    For example: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would later permit Dr. Deborah C. Mash, Professor of Neurology and Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, to conduct pharmacokinetic and safety trials using ibogaine on human subjects within the United States.

    While a professional triumph, and a testament to Dr. Mash's tenacity in the face of several bureaucratic hurdles, clinical trials of ibogaine would nonetheless stop in 1995 because of NIDA's refusal to provide additional funding.

    The First Medically-Based Ibogaine Clinic: Formalizing the Process

    Despite the conflict between the go-ahead from the FDA and the withdrawal of financial assistance from NIDA, Dr. Mash would prove to be true to her mission; which is to say, she would continue her research of ibogaine through an offshore, patient-funded, experimental medical facility on the island of Saint Kitts.

    This fact is no mere footnote to history because, in contrast to the prior administration of ibogaine among a small group of friends and paid “sitters,” Dr. Mash would launch her Healing Visions program and collect data concerning over 300 treatment episodes.

    The clinic would later move to Canc?n, Mexico, to decrease costs and increase availability to patients worldwide.

    Instead of running an expensive series of treatment “rounds,” where researchers, clinicians and support personnel would have to fly to the Caribbean to attend to patients, there would be a safe, affordable and medically based facility to deliver treatment year-round.

    The Ibogaine Treatment Scene Today: A Study in Contrasts

    Despite the achievements of the past, and with all due praise and credit to the scientists responsible for championing ibogaine, misinformation continues to be a plague unto itself: It distorts what ibogaine can do, while at the same time leaving an enormous void involving safety protocols and treatment methods.

    Again, despite the efforts of a valiant community of amateur enthusiasts, the current situation is cause for anxiety, not acclaim or adulation, because of the challenges that confront a prospective patient.

    A simple online search for Ibogaine Treatment Options yields results more in keeping with a theater of the absurd than a forum of medical legitimacy and patient safety.

    Please recognize, too, that ibogaine is an unlicensed and unregulated experimental medication: There is little or no oversight of this substance.

    Nor is there a regulatory body with the resources necessary to act as a watchdog to ensure safety among a multitude of clinics worldwide, where national boundaries conflict with the notion of a universal agency – an international organization – with the ability to enforce common standards of care.

    To make matters worse, there are so-called “ibogaine experts,” who claim that ibogaine can cure cancer and diabetes, reverse aging, act as a “smart drug” (with no side effects, of course) and solve any other condition.

    By resorting to the tactics of a purveyor of snake oil, by emulating the ethics (or lack thereof) of a used car salesman, by operating without fear of consequences, by putting up a website and outsourcing the writing of copy for that site to some content mill, by posting plagiarized material and enveloping everything in the language of pseudoscience –– by doing all of these things, and by preying upon the sick and the innocent, these unsavory individuals undermine the very real advantages of ibogaine.

    A Way Forward: Safety and Transparency

    Without a set of fundamental safety protocols, and without a demonstrable record of experience, expertise and compassion, prospective patients should avoid those places that lack these features; they should not contact the owners or operators of those “clinics,” where the emphasis is on money, not medicine or morals.

    To be clear: Ibogaine can be dangerous and even fatal, when administered by an untrained provider. (Dosing patients, many of whom are not in good health to begin with, is an invitation for disaster. Giving them ibogaine, Ayahuasca, ketamine and 5-MeO-DMT – bombarding them with chemicals – is reprehensible.)

    What potential patients should demand, and what I seek to emphasize, is trust through verification.

    In other words, there must be total transparency about a center's treatment methodologies, in-house staff and medical personnel, physical accommodations and irrefutable evidence of that facility's integrity, from the academic credentials of its physicians to the diligence of its nurses and assistants.

    That clarity will benefit patients and professionals alike.

    It represents the professionalism we should highlight, the accountability we must possess and the integrity we must protect.

    Now is the time to make true the promise of safety and transparency.

    Arnold Hesnod has a background in cellular biology, molecular pharmacology and #1ESS. When he's not busy writing about addiction, the internet, nutraceuticals and machine intelligence, he still tries to maintain the MindVox servers.

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    Many ex-opioid addicts credit ibogaine with cure

    America’s worsening opioid epidemic is prompting calls for a serious look at a form of therapy some people say helped them overcome their addiction when all else failed.

    The treatment revolves around ibogaine, a plant-derived substance that long has been used in African shamanistic rituals but which is not recognized as bona fide medicine in most of the world.

    With ibogaine illegal in the U.S., a number of Americans with opioid addictions travel to other countries, often Canada or Mexico, where it is legal and unregulated, for ibogaine.

    Many who have received ibogaine treatment say they stopped feeling a desire for opioids and, in some cases, even drinking or smoking.

    Also noticeably different from other anti-addiction treatments is the fact that ibogaine usually causes an intense psychedelic experience that can last from a few hours to a couple of days.

    That, many experts agree, is what has made the substance so controversial.

    “There is tremendous reaction against any drug that affects perception or behavior,” said Gary Rudnick, a professor of pharmacology at Yale University, who has studied ibogaine and serotonin. “It was classified by the DEA as a Schedule I drug, which means it has no medical use. It had a huge stigma.”

    “A lot of serious psychiatrists who wanted to use drugs — like ecstasy — to augment psychiatric treatment were shot down brutally. They could not get support or funding.”

    To be sure, ibogaine has triggered seizures and heart-related complications. Reports that mention those side effects link them to possible underlying heart conditions or taking an excessive amount of the substance.

    “All drugs have targets that they’re designed for,” Rudnick said. “The best drugs don’t interact with other molecules in the cell that they’re not designed for. Ibogaine is on the other end of the scale — it interacts with lots of other proteins, some of them are pretty important ones. It’s a really dirty drug, it’s not very selective. It’s hard to tease apart how it’s working.”

    Some ibogaine treatment facilities outside the United States screen prospective patients for cardiac problems or other variables that would make them high-risk.

    "U.S. citizens who attribute their successful battle against opioid addiction to ibogaine, and medical and pharmacology experts who have seen or heard enough instances of its unparalleled effects on combating cravings for the drugs," say the U.S. government, "and drug industry should take a serious look at the substance through clinical trials."

    “It’s seen as counterculture,” said Dr. Kenneth Alper, professor of psychiatry and neurology at the New York University School of Medicine, and an expert on ibogaine. “True innovation is sometimes opposed by people who have a stake in the status quo. There’s pressure toward intellectual conformity.”

    Alper, who in 1999 organized the first conference on ibogaine to be held in the United States, said he is not advocating for the use of the substance, but — echoing many experts — feels that it should undergo serious controlled studies to at least understand why it seems so effective.

    Trevor Millar, who founded an ibogaine treatment center, Liberty Root, four years ago in Canada and has treated more than 250 people under medical supervision, says he plans to devote more of his time to pushing assertively for clinical trials.

    Millar said that "between half to three-quarters of his clients see a 100 percent detox from opioids.”

    He’s ready for battle, he said.

    “Pharmaceutical companies aren’t going to make a lot of money on something you give people once and they don’t need again,” Millar said.

    “They’re not lining up to fund clinical trials. My life mission is to make sure clinical trials get done in Canada.”

    The National Institutes of Health, which funds research, looked into ibogaine in the early 1990s because of its promising qualities, but decided against clinical trials on the suggestion of a team of advisors it assembled.

    In a statement, the agency said: “Anecdotal evidence suggested that ibogaine might be a potential ‘interrupter’ for opiate, cocaine, and other types of drug addiction. ... While some members of the consultant group endorsed supporting the development project, most of the members did not endorse the idea. Based on this recommendation, [NIH] decided not to pursue the ibogaine development program.”

    Several years ago, NIH funded a preclinical study of a chemical that is derived from ibogaine and, thus far, seems to have its anti-addiction components without the risky ones. The chemical, known as 18-MC, may stand a better chance of overriding the resistance that ibogaine has met with because it does not appear to have the psychedelic effect that many say has stigmatized the plant-based substance.

    “As a candidate for drug development, in the United States, for sure, 18-MC is preferential,” Alper said, adding that nonetheless, “as with ibogaine, [NIH] has not funded further work.”

    And so, “further development of 18-MC is stalled by lack of funding.”

    In a Wall Street Journal editorial last year, Alper noted: “The NIH ... supports the development of medications to treat addiction with less than $100 million annually, while the cost of developing a single drug to final FDA approval can exceed $1 billion.”

    At no time, experts say, has it been more pressing than now — when the opioid epidemic is claiming tens of thousands of lives each year — to move with urgency toward substances that hold promise.

    “It’s astounding to me that given what’s happening in this country, we’re not close to a clinical trial or the development of new drugs,” Alper said.

    Liberty Root has seen its share of U.S. citizens who have turned to it, desperate to fight their opioid addiction after failed attempts through conventional means. One-third of the 250 people who have been treated there are U.S. citizens.

    One of those U.S. clients, a businessman who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had six hip replacements, and surgeries for 12 herniated discs after a 1993 accident involving a truck. One doctor told him he had never before seen his degree of spinal cord damage.

    Like many doctors did before the scale of addiction risks of painkillers was better understood, his physicians liberally prescribed opioids, telling him that they simply would be a lifelong companion.

    He tried tapering off the painkillers, he said, but went through hellish withdrawals. He tried rehabilitation centers, but experienced withdrawals that he said the staffs did not respond to adequately, and began opioids again after a short while.

    Desperate, he embarked on an exhaustive search, with the help of a sympathetic U.S. physician, and learned about ibogaine. He went to Liberty Root, in Vancouver, where he stayed for 10 days. For the first time, he tapered off opioids without withdrawals, he said, and stayed off them.

    “It’s been an amazing experience,” he said. “It was very uplifting. It gives people a great opportunity to start their life over again. I haven’t had a desire for painkillers since.”

    He said he also no longer has needed antidepression or anti-anxiety medication for conditions that arose from the stresses and pain after the accident.

    “After being treated with ibogaine, it was really miraculous and depression lifted,” he said.

    Another Liberty Root patient, a young woman from the state of Washington who had been on opioids and then heroin, using every day for four years, had a hard time in treatment, and for a few months afterward.

    The woman, who asked not to be identified, said she and her husband — who was not on drugs and supported her as she struggled with her addiction — looked into ibogaine in the spring of 2014 after several unsuccessful rehabilitation facility stays.

    “They said it would be easier than it was,” she said. “The withdrawals I had were so bad, they thought it was because the heroin I’d taken was laced with something like fentanyl.”

    For several months after she left treatment, she experienced insomnia, which she handled with melatonin.

    "But even with all that, she said, the most significant part of her ibogaine treatment is that she has stayed clean since then.

    “Once you get through the withdrawal, you’re completely fine,” she said. “I’m enjoying my life now. I enjoy vacations. I have a healthy baby son. I want to make sure he never goes through what I did.”

    Millar, like others who are heartened by ibogaine's impact on addicts, says it is not a magic wand, nor does it work the same way for everyone.

    "Some people," he said, "find they can sustain being clean without any formal assistance. "Others," he said, "might benefit from attending support group meetings after they stop using."

    And as with any effort to fight addiction, it is crucial to get away from the toxic environment, notably sources of temptation.

    Another U.S. citizen addicted to opioids who treated himself and his wife with ibogaine, which they obtained in Canada, and said it eliminated their dependence on the drugs, said even with the concerning factors, he hopes that what gave him a new lease on life gets studied and — in some safer form — developed for mass distribution.

    “It’s better than certain death from opioid overdoses,” he said.

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    One man's journey to mexico for ibogaine addiction treatment

    By the time Dustin Dextraze decides to travel outside of the United States to get psychedelic addiction treatment, he's desperate.

    "I tried to overdose about a week ago," he says. "And I just woke up like five hours later and the needle was in my arm, and I just woke up and was like, 'well, I didn't die, so ... Now what?' "

    It's taken about three years for Dextraze to get to this point. He started using prescription painkillers recreationally, then switched to heroin because it was less expensive and easier to get. He lost his car, his job. He left his wife, his three kids.

    At 36 years old he's shuffling between staying with his father in Massachusetts and his mother in New Hampshire. Every day he focuses on panhandling to get money to buy drugs so he won't be sick from withdrawing from opioid use.

    Walking the streets of Dover, New Hampshire, in July, Dextraze is so dope sick he can barely focus.

    "I'm gonna be alright. I have to be until I go find someone to find something for me," he says, often groaning, chain-smoking cigarettes, and frequently stopping strangers to ask for money or drugs.

    "It's not like Massachusetts where I can just walk down the street and get it from anybody," Dextraze says. "Five bucks and I wouldn't be sick."

    'My Whole Life Is Riding On This'

    Dextraze says he hates this cycle of panhandling to get drugs. For years, he's tried to quit. He's been to several detoxes and rehabs, taken addiction medications, attended 12-step meetings ? but nothing has worked. His drug use has landed him in the hospital with a severe blood infection, and he now has hepatitis C. He's been jailed for possession.

    "The day I got out of jail I used," Dextraze says. "It's just a constant cycle, and it becomes such a vicious cycle, you can't get out of it."

    What's giving Dextraze some hope that he can break the cycle, though, is an alternative psychedelic treatment called ibogaine. But it's illegal in the U.S.

    Ibogaine is a substance from the iboga plant that's primarily found in Africa. It's believed to be used in coming-of-age ceremonies by the Bwiti religion.

    For decades people have reported it eliminates withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with various drugs. And many say it's most effective for opioid users.

    "I've tried everything they've offered me to try, and this is the last thing that I know of is the ibogaine," Dextraze says. "My whole life is riding on this ibogaine."

    A drug mired in controversy

    Claims about ibogaine have been controversial, and the subject of several studies.

    Dr. Kenneth Alper, an associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at NYU, has studied the psychedelic drug and its history. He found ibogaine was first tested in the U.S. in the 1950s, but it became better known in '60s when scientist Howard Lotsof claimed ibogaine eliminated his heroin withdrawals. So he began treating others with it. Less than 10 years later, ibogaine was declared a Schedule 1 drug in the U.S. because of its psychoactive effects. The World Health Assembly classified ibogaine as a "substance likely to cause dependency or endanger human health."

    But still, ibogaine advocates have pushed for more testing in the U.S. amid reports in other countries that it was effective in addressing addiction to heroin and cocaine. At one point in the '90s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved testing it, but that was never completed, reportedly because of health risks.

    "Ibogaine is apparently telling us something that is pertinent to either drug discovery or understanding the neurobiology of opiate dependence," NYU's Alper says. "The fact that we cannot readily explain it means that it's probably going to teach us something that we do not already know about addiction."

    But many researchers are reluctant to do more research because of the reported risks. One of Alper's studies found that 19 people died after using ibogaine between 1990 and 2008. Most of the deaths were attributed to heart problems. Some researchers say that's largely because of ibogaine's underground status, which means patients are not properly screened and medical professionals are not administering it.

    Dr. Martin Polanco, the founder of an addiction treatment center in northern Mexico, has studied ibogaine and says the drug is safe if it is properly administered.

    "Ibogaine has known cardiac risks in that it reduces heart rate," Polanco says. "When combined with other medications, it can cause arrhythmias. It's important to be under continuous cardiac supervision while on the medication."

    But it is also risky to find a reputable medical provider of ibogaine outside the U.S., where dozens of clinics are operating. In Mexico, the psychedelic treatment is not illegal ? but it's not exactly sanctioned medicine, either.

    Polanco used to run an ibogaine clinic in Mexico but moved it to the Bahamas because of concerns about the safety of his patients and staff there.

    Polanco warns people should research their provider, saying "the quality of treatment and medical oversight can vary from one clinic to another."

    To Mexico, to 'take this chance'

    Dextraze believes he's found a reputable provider through someone he knows from Massachusetts who works at a clinic in Mexico. Friends offer to pay the $5,000 for a week of treatment, and his mother buys his plane ticket. He says any potential risks don't scare him; he says his drug use has already put him in a dangerous place.

    "I was ready to die anyways," he says. "So I'd rather take this chance and be able to live a normal life than not take this chance and die a horrible death on dope."

    Before arriving at the clinic, he landed in San Diego and immediately left to look for drugs. He went missing for a few days, but then got in touch with the clinic. They came to bring him to treatment.

    For the first few days at the Experience Ibogaine Treatment Center in Mexico, Dextraze goes through medical tests of his heart and liver and takes short-acting opioids so he doesn't get sick. He's advised to rest and do light exercise while learning about what to expect from the treatment.

    The clinic is actually two well-appointed homes next door to each other that the clinic owners rent in a gated residential community. The homes are private, perched high on a hill just south of Tijuana, with views of the Pacific Ocean. One home has treatment rooms and staff offices. The other is where patients stay for about a week after taking ibogaine. On the grounds are a sauna, a hot tub and hammocks. A chef prepares meals and clinic staffers oversee the patients.

    Once Dextraze is medically cleared, he can take ibogaine. It will be given at night, when the short-acting opiates wear off and Dextraze starts to go into withdrawal. The clinic staff have been warned Dextraze that he may see visions that aren't pleasant. Still, Dextraze is eager.

    "I was a little nervous, but I'm just going to remind myself that this is in my head and none of it's real ? nothing can hurt me," Dextraze says.

    The day Dextraze is due to take ibogaine, he fasts after breakfast. Two nurses and a doctor monitor Dextraze and the other patient there at the time. Aeden Smith-Ahearn, the treatment coordinator, is also on hand to help.

    "It's absolutely crucial to have medical staff here, because it is a dangerous substance," Smith-Ahearn says. "It's cardiotoxic."

    A Massachusetts native, Smith-Ahearn knew Dextraze before he came to Mexico. Six years ago, Smith-Ahearn came to Mexico to get ibogaine treatment for his own addiction to opioids. He's been an ibogaine enthusiast ever since.

    Smith-Ahearn estimates his clinic has treated more than 1,000 people in the past five years, and that more than 95 percent of them are from the U.S. He says most patients seek ibogaine after several tries at conventional treatment -- when they reach a point where they believe ibogaine is less risky than continuing to use drugs.

    "Just having gone through the hell that most of these people have gone through, and because of how the American health system is set up, I just feel that there is not a lot of hope for people over there," Smith-Ahearn says.

    Dr. Paul Castillo, who will administer the ibogaine, also works in a hospital emergency room in Mexico. He became a supporter of ibogaine after a friend who owned another clinic asked him to help monitor patients.

    "When they arrive, there are like clouds in their eyes. After ibogaine, shining eyes, smiling," Castillo says. "They're alive, basically."

    Castillo follows treatment guidelines from the Global Ibogaine Therapy Alliance, a Canadian nonprofit that developed the guidelines in 2015 and updated them last year. They recommend continuously monitoring patients, especially their hearts. The clinic says it gets the ibogaine from a lab it trusts in Africa.

    Right before he gives Dextraze the medication, Castillo hooks him up to a heart monitor and puts in an IV. He checks Dextraze's blood pressure and temperature. Then he gives him a capsule containing a small "test dose" to make sure Dextraze doesn't have an adverse reaction. After about an hour, he administers a full dose based on Dextraze's weight and drug history.

    "The treatment is partly spiritual," Castillo says, so he and the nurses speak softly, dim the lights, and put on soft flute music. "Smith-Ahearn burns sage in the treatment rooms," he says, "for cleansing." Dextraze lies on a double bed, hooked up to the medical monitors with a sleeping mask over his eyes.

    "I feel a little warm," he says. "I feel something, but I'm just relaxed. Normally, in withdrawal, I wouldn't be this relaxed."

    For about the next 10 hours Dextraze lies in the darkened room, mostly quiet. The medical staffers stay with him most of the night. The next morning Dextraze describes sometimes feeling as if his body was vibrating. He also says he saw visions, like someone was showing him photos of the negative things he has done.

    "I saw my kids when I left them," Dextraze says, "and I knew that they were sad and afraid that I wasn't coming back, so I kept saying, 'I didn't really leave them.' "

    "It also showed me other embarrassing things I've done ... I don't want to go into detail about a lot of it. But once I said, 'OK, I did those things,' it got better. At first it seemed like it was not the greatest experience, because it wasn't, but it was exactly what I needed."

    And Dextraze says for the first time in three years, he doesn't have any withdrawal symptoms.

    "Even when I was in detox I would feel some withdrawal," he says. "But now, nothing, absolutely nothing."

    The psychedelic experience

    It's not clear exactly how ibogaine eliminates withdrawal, but most studies describe it as affecting the brain's receptors in a way that resets them back to their pre-addictive state.

    Dr. Alan Davis, a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University, has been a leader in studying psychedelic treatments. One of Davis' research papers surveyed 88 ibogaine patients, and 80 percent reported fewer or less intense withdrawal symptoms.

    "There seems to be, especially for people who have an opioid use disorder, some critical piece that often gets in the way of success in treatments that are currently available in the United States," Davis says. "You know, most people drop out of detox or treatment because of their withdrawal symptoms or cravings."

    "I wouldn't say this is a magic bullet. I think there are a lot of unknowns about why it works for some people."

    Davis' research also found that many of those who reported success from ibogaine attributed it in large part to the psychedelic experience. Essentially, they said they benefited as much from the psychedelic trip as they did from the removal of the physical withdrawal symptoms.

    Davis is studying this in other psychedelics, too ? namely the substance 5 MEO-DMT, which is said to cause an intense mystical experience. Many ibogaine clinics offer other psychedelics, like 5 MEO-DMT, as complementary treatments.

    Dextraze's psychedelic experience under ibogaine was considered somewhat minimal. So three days after taking the ibogaine, the clinic gives him 5 MEO-DMT.

    A short but intense trip

    Smith-Ahearn puts a sand-like substance into a small glass pipe and lights it.

    "It's life-changing," Smith-Ahearn says, "and what you're about to see with Dustin, it's mind-blowing."

    Dextraze inhales from the glass pipe, holds it in for a few seconds, and lays back on a bed in the treatment room. Almost immediately, he starts intensely tripping.

    He's smiling and yells out while staring at the ceiling, addressing people or things unseen: "Yeah dude ... I knew it, man. ... I don't have to hang onto anything anymore. ... I don't ever want to come back from this. ... Please don't ever go away."

    After about 20 minutes Dextraze becomes coherent again. When he's able to describe the experience, he calls it one of the most positive, intense things he's ever been through.

    "I was surrounded by love," Dextraze says. "I just feel completely at peace. It's like I understand the world, and I know now that I will never be a slave to drugs again."

    Psychedelics are increasingly being used and tested for a variety of disorders such as PTSD and depression.

    Another addiction clinic in Mexico, the Baja Ibogaine Center, offers the anesthetic ketamine to patients struggling with depression. The center's owner, Jose Cerva, says these medications should be further researched and might help with the opioid epidemic.

    "I don't know why it is this way," Cerva says. "The U.S. has the funds to start doing studies on ibogaine and other psychedelics. America has to be more open about it. There is a lot of potential, and the U.S. addiction treatment system is obviously failing."

    Will ibogaine work in the long-term?

    The long-term success rate of ibogaine is not known. Both clinics in Mexico say no one in their care has died from taking ibogaine, and both estimate about 40 percent of their patients stay off drugs long-term.

    But the clinics acknowledge that information comes from those patients they stay in contact with. They add that the key to success for patients is ongoing support, and many times that means conventional treatment after they leave the clinic.

    Davis, from John Hopkins, says this is where his research found a significant problem.

    "Largely absent in his ibogaine study was any followup aftercare," Davis says. "So people who return home may not have the support they need to continue making changes in their lives."

    For Dextraze, the clinic staff works with him on an aftercare plan. They review several options: inpatient treatment, outpatient counseling, different types of social support meetings like AA, Smart Recovery or Refuge Recovery.

    Smith-Ahearn tells Dextraze the most successful patients are the ones who seek additional support.

    "Now you have to work at it," he says. "You definitely need more support. You can't just leave here and expect that that part of your life is magically over."

    He and Dextraze look online and call treatment providers. Some won't take public insurance, and others have long wait lists. With Dextraze's flight leaving in a few days, the pair agree that when Dextraze returns to New Hampshire, he'll start with counseling and join support groups while looking into how long it might take to get into inpatient treatment.

    Back home and 'Not trying to escape life anymore'

    A few days after returning to his mother's home in New Hampshire, Dextraze maintains ibogaine is a miracle.

    "Not just 100 percent - I'm 110 percent. Like I am totally OK with myself. I'm not trying to escape life anymore. I've never felt this way in my whole entire life," Dextraze says. "It's not just that it gets you off the heroin, it's like, it hits the reset button - that's the only way to really explain it. It's like a new brain."

    Dextraze is reuniting with his children, he got a part-time job, and he's going to counseling and attending support meetings. At this point, he feels he needs only minimal support.

    "I think now it's to help other people, that's why I'm going to the meetings," he says. "And by helping them, I'm helping myself, because we are all one."

    Dextraze also has family support. His mother, Pamela Stack, gets emotional when she says she has her son back.

    "Look at his eyes, you know, it's just a big difference. He's not trying to steal something. You know, you don't have to watch him, that he's going to walk out of here with whatever he feels like, because he has done that many times," Stack says, wiping away tears. "There is still a trust issue. I just don't know if this is going to last."

    Several studies suggest that ibogaine stays in the body for weeks. NYU professor and psychiatrist Alper says that his research over the course of 20 years suggests that after taking it, people appear able to refrain from drugs, at least at first.

    "My best representative guess would be that it's usually in the range of about one to three months of diminished drug use," Alper says. "People need to use this opportunity to restructure their lives."

    Alper says ibogaine's success rate also depends on properly screening those who take it. He says before someone is given ibogaine, they should not be taking other drugs and should not have certain co-occurring psychiatric disorders.

    'People think there is going to be a magic pill'

    That was a problem for Kathleen Cochran, who sent her daughter to Mexico for ibogaine treatment three years ago.

    "I understand that it works for some people, but it ended up not working for my daughter," Cochran says. She says the psychoactive experience caused her daughter to have visions of unresolved childhood trauma, and there was no support to help deal with it. Her 27-year-old daughter is now stable on methadone.

    Cochran says people should be wary of alternative medicine in foreign countries.

    "My advice would be to wait until ibogaine is legal in the U.S. and surround yourself with experts who are able to deal with the aftermath of the trauma," she says.

    Ibogaine opponents often point to stories like Cochran's as a reason why people shouldn't use psychedelics.

    Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Bertha Madras, a member of the White House Opioid Commission, says there haven't been solid scientific studies on these substances, especially on how they affect those with mental health conditions, which is a large percentage of those with addiction. Madras says she understands that the opioid epidemic has made many people feel desperate, but, she says, "there is already treatment in this country that's backed by strong scientific research."

    "People think there is going to be a magic pill that's going to erase addiction, and that's just not reality," Madras says. "What they should not be desperate for is a quick fix. High-quality treatment centers do exist in this country, and that's where they should be flocking to, as opposed to places that have undocumented data and anecdotal evidence. I just think it's fraught with hazard."

    Ibogaine proponents acknowledge the risks and say that's why the U.S. should do more research.

    Rick Doblin, founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, says the nonprofit organization published research last year showing that ibogaine significantly reduced drug use ? in some cases by as long as 12 months.

    "The risk of untreated addiction is terrible as well, more terrible than the risks of ibogaine administered under medical supervision," Doblin says.

    Doblin wrote to the White House Opioid Commission last year asking for more research and pointing out that three states brought forward bills seeking to establish pilot ibogaine programs. None of those bills has passed though.

    The pharmaceutical company Savant HWP has received a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to do human testing of a substance called 18 MC, which is said to mimic the withdrawal-eliminating properties of ibogaine without the psychoactive effects. Some researchers estimate it will likely be eight to 10 years before ibogaine might be available in this country.

    Dustin Dextraze says he's glad he didn't have to wait.

    "Remember that person I was when we first met in New Hampshire?" he asks. "All I cared about was finding drugs. I could make the choice to go out and use right now, but I don't want to. I don't need to. I'm where I want to be right now."
    Last edited by mr peabody; 10-02-2019 at 00:22.
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