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Addiction Cocaine

mr peabody

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Brazilian ibogaine researcher, Bruno Rasmussen, on treating crack addiction with ibogaine

Interesting interview segment with a Brazilian Iboga researcher Bruno Rasmussen. The article is translated into English.

The Sao Paulo government is actively investigating the anti addiction properties of ibogaine over 1,200 treatments in Sao Paul have been performed to date. Dr. Rasmussen has been involved in a lot of these treatments. He goes on to speak about the high percentage of crack cocaine users that have remained clean after their ibogaine treatment.

Dr. Rasmussen is definitely one of the medical leaders producing research studies showing the amazing results that the treatment is providing. There is quite a bit of research on ibogaine on rats, but not so much in humans. The research will go a long way into bringing more interest from the scientific community to iboga and ibogaine.

It is important to note this quote from Dr. Rasmussen:

"In addition, we observed that ibogaine, applied within the appropriate clinical safety standards, in a hospital environment, is effective and safe, with no significant adverse events."

The R7 interviewed the physician and researcher Bruno Rasmussen on the advances in research and details of the treatment with ibogaine. Ramussen also gives an overview of psychedelic medicine.

How long have you been researching and participating in research groups for a chemical dependency treatment?

For 23 years, but independently. Together with other researchers, since 2012.

When did you start your studies with psychedelic medicine?

The most important academic studies, related to ibogaine, began in 2012, through a team composed by psychiatrist Dartiu Xavier, from PROAD of UNIFESP; Eduardo Schenberg, neuroscientist; Maria Angelica Comis, psychologist; And I, a clinical doctor. This study was published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

What are the results?

At that time patients who had taken ibogaine for chemical dependence from 2005 to 2013 were interviewed and followed up, and a result of 62% of abstinent patients after treatment was reached. In addition, we observed that ibogaine, applied within the appropriate clinical safety standards, in a hospital environment, is effective and safe, with no significant adverse events.

These results also led to the publication of statements from the Coned-SP (State Council on Drug Policies of the State of Sao Paulo text below) that stipulated that treatment with ibogaine must necessarily be performed in a hospital environment, with medical, psychiatric and psychological follow-up.

Have there been other advances?

After that, we did another research, a qualitative study, with the participation of the psychiatrist Luis Fernando Tofoli, from Unicamp, and Joao Felipe Alexandre, from UFABC, who showed a great improvement in the quality of life After treatment with ibogaine, even in patients who came to relapse, with shorter and less profound episodes of relapse. This second study was published now in April 2017 in the Journal of Psychedelic Studies. We also have a third study, from the same team, on the same subject, which is in the process of being published, which shows similar results.

Regarding MDMA, I participate in another group that is undergoing training to conduct research on substance use in people with PTSD. This research is occurring in a coordinated way in other parts of the world, especially in the United States, and should begin here in Brazil in the coming months.

Other studies, with Ayahuasca, have been conducted at USP in Ribeirao Preto and UFRN, for depression, and have occurred in recent years as well. But I have no connection with the latter.

Which substances are already under study in Brazil?

In terms of psychedelic medicine, Ayahuasca, for depression; Ibogaine, for chemical dependence; And MDMA, for posttraumatic stress disorder. Brazil has been strong in this type of research, as was clear at the MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) conference held last April in Oakland, attended by more than 3,000 people, where several lectures were from Brazilians, including me.

How do you evaluate the outcome in the volunteer group?

Regarding ibogaine, I evaluate the results as excellent. No current approach offers comparable results and, interestingly, in such a short time, since most patients taking ibogaine require only one dose, which is applied during a 24-hour hospital stay.

As for Ayahuasca and depression, great results too, and with the same characteristic, very fast results. Regarding MDMA, in Brazil the research is still in the initial phase, but I was able to follow some patients who did this treatment in the USA, for post-traumatic stress (in this case, veterans), and the results were also very good. In 82% of cases, after 3 sessions the patients no longer met the criteria for the disorder.

How long does conventional chemotherapy treatment take without ibogaine?

A few months, most often about 9 months, with a relapse rate greater than 70%.

In the case of Ibogaine, specifically, how is the procedure in Anvisa to allow the medicinal use of the plant?

Well, in the case of ibogaine, the use of the plant in nature, although it is the traditional way of using it, is not so interesting, since innumerable variables (plant type, soil, climate, mode and time of Influence purity and result.

Therefore, it is safer and with more predictable results if the extracted and purified substance, which is called ibogaine HCL, is used. This substance, although not yet registered with Anvisa, may be imported for personal, non-commercial use, by the patient's own initiative, according to Decree 8.077 of August 2013 and Anvisa Resolution 28/2011.

In order to avoid the bureaucracy of this importation process, it would be important for the medication to be registered in Brazil, which is a long and bureaucratic process, but I am confident that this will happen in the medium term, since this process is already under way.

How does Ibogaine work in the treatment of chemical dependence?

Ibogaine increases the manufacture, by brain cells called glial cells, of a factor called GDNF (Glial Cell-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). It is considered a neuronal growth factor, which causes the neurons to proliferate and connect or reconnect with each other. This effect apparently rebalances the neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin) and brings a sense of sustained well-being, which decreases the patient's need for drug use.

In addition, during the effect of ibogaine, the patient enters a state called onirophrenia, which is the daydream, a moment of expansion of consciousness in which the person can re-evaluate attitudes, feelings, where he has insights related to his problems.

This ends up functioning as an intensive, concentrated, drug-induced "psychotherapy" and is very effective in increasing the patient's understanding of the problem he is facing.

Is the patient at risk of becoming a chemical dependent of ibogaine?

No, the experience with ibogaine is not pleasant, it does not give pleasure, there is no reported case of use of ibogaine for recreation purposes.

Are there different levels of crack dependents? In your research have you already detected any profile of controlled use of crack or in all cases the user ends up falling into a severe dependency after a period of crack use?

In relation to any drug, including alcohol, there are always patients who abuse more than others, and also always have people who can make a use less harmful or more controlled. This also happens in relation to crack. But it is less common than with regard to cocaine or alcohol for example. But it's not all crack users who have seen zombies as is believed.

There are many cases of relapse and multiple hospitalizations of dependents. With psychedelic medicine, is the risk of relapse lower? Is a long period of hospitalization necessary for treatment with psychedelic medicine having the necessary effect?

That's the great advantage of psychedelic medicine, it's the response time. Always very fast, in one or at most a few sessions, you can already see the result. In the case of ibogaine, as I have said, most of the time, it is a single dose. And the hospitalization is necessary for a very short period, only during the application of the medicine.

Some patients may require a 30-day hospitalization period prior to application to better prepare for withdrawal of certain medications that should be discontinued prior to taking ibogaine and other Undesirable drug interactions. But this hospitalization period will always be much shorter than in traditional treatments. And that is what makes the industry of clinical dependence not like ibogaine, and spreads misrepresented information, because commercially it does not interest a drug that decreases the length of stay.

In addition, as the second study shows, relapses after ibogaine are shorter, deeper and with a faster recovery from normal life.

The Spanish psychologist Genis On, who also studies psychedelic medicine, talks about the importance of a psychotherapeutic process to accompany the treatment and that the use of psychedelic substances act as a coadjuvant and not as a main treatment. What do you think this is and what should be the preparation and evaluation of the patient before starting treatment.

I agree with him 100%. Ibogaine and other substances can be considered as facilitators of psychotherapy and, without it, there is nothing to be facilitated, so efficacy drops a lot. Ibogaine is not a miracle, it is a tool that along with other procedures, increases the chance of the patient returning to a normal life. But there is no point in reaching and taking ibogaine without proper monitoring, the result will be frustrating.

How would this adequate monitoring be?

The preparation should consist of some consultations with a psychotherapist, to explain to the patient what will happen during the experience, to adjust the person's expectations to reality, and to diagnose any comorbidities (diseases that the person may present, of dependence), which may be contraindications to treatment (e.g. schizophrenia). And after the shot, a follow-up is also important, to help one digest the experience and prepare to resume normal life.

In addition, a medical evaluation is also important to make sure that the patient has no heart, kidney, liver disease, which could compromise the safety or efficacy of the medication.

http://iboga.io/brasileiros-estudam-...ontra-o-crack/

Dr. Chaves has performed over 1200 treatments with ibogaine in hospital without a single adverse event. 62% of those treated remain abstinent long term. Dr. Chaves is currently accepting new patients for treatment in hospital in São Paulo, Brazil. For more information, contact Dr. Chaves directly : [email protected] -pb
 
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rahul33

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I want to share about the rehabilitation center in India which I had recently visited due to my alcohol addiction. this place was cost effective and I had a great experience. this place is in bhopal India and it cost me less than 800$ for two months stay... which covers all room+therapies+food+medicines.

You can find details on the web @ www.shrigksdeaddiction.org.
 
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mr peabody

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What I learned from treating 400+ patients with ibogaine

by Bruno Gomes, M.A. | March 13, 2017

Since the middle of the 90s, there has been a renewed interest in the possible positive effects of many different plants and substances such as LSD, “magic” mushrooms and psilocybin, ayahuasca or iboga. Many new and rigorous scientific studies have been showing promising evidence that those substances are suitable for the treatment of many diseases and disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse or even depression. With so many possibilities, we could easily assume that psychedelics are the new panacea capable of curing any ailment. But, what is this cure? How does it happen? How similar are those curing processes to those of conventional medicine?

I’m a psychologist in Brazil and, after more than ten years working with homeless crack-cocaine users, I got involved with ayahuasca and ibogaine treatments, curious about what they could offer. Could these substances help my patients, who I have been struggling so hard to take care of? Since then, I have studied and assisted a group of recovering homeless individuals using ayahuasca, a brew made with Amazonian plants, most commonly Psychotria viridis and Banisteriopsis caapi. I’ve also treated around 400 patients with problematic drug use by using ibogaine. Ibogaine is a substance derived from the root bark of the African plant iboga (Tabernanthe iboga). Both ayahuasca and ibogaine have intense effects on the user’s perception of the world and oneself.

These substances are classified as entheogens, hallucinogens and plant teachers, depending on how they are used. The ayahuasca treatment I studied integrated the rituals of 2 traditional ayahuasca cultures - vegetalismo, with its purges and diets, and the musical healing rituals of Santo Daime. In this context, the brew is considered a plant teacher: a substance with a spirit that communicates with humanity through its effects. The ibogaine treatment, on the other hand, is much more similar to regular medicine. Ibogaine is extracted from the plant, processed by a pharmaceutical laboratory, and then prescribed by a medical doctor in a hospital.

These contexts affect the use and understanding of the substances, therefore changing what is experienced by the patient. This is even more evident when comparing different ayahuasca rituals. The same ayahuasca decoction in the context of a Santo Daime ritual, with bright light and everyone singing together—and then in a Shipibo indigenous ritual, in complete darkness, guided only by the curandero’s voice—will elicit a very different experience.

Especially interesting in this complex relationship between setting and experience is the element of mystery. Within a medical context, and never having heard about the African traditional cults with iboga, many patients that I’ve given ibogaine to still reported seeing or being visited by the “iboga spirit”; usually an old African woman or ancestral healer.

The reports and testimonials about these 2 substances are very impressive: the intensity of the experiences, as well as the sudden and deep transformations gained through them, attract more users every day; either looking for something new or different, or a spiritual or healing experience. Together with these reports, new scientific research on ayahuasca and iboga shows promising new and effective treatments for problematic drug use and alcoholism. There’s also constantly new data to show psychedelic substances use in treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder, tobacco dependence and PTSD.

In the context of these reports, patients interested in ibogaine treatment often expect a new and powerful medicine. As aspirin reduces fever, they expect ibogaine to take their drug dependency away; something fast and effective that solves the problem for good. It would be perfect if ibogaine or ayahuasca could cure with the speed of aspirin, no matter the setting. With aspirin, it doesn’t matter where one takes it or if one believes in it, it will still reduce fever. With psychedelics, it’s not like that: the patient’s expectancy, his trust in those responsible for the experience, as well as what happens in the surrounding environment, will exert an intense influence on the experience.

These factors not only affect the experience, but also the outcome. The experience with the substance needs to be part of a process in which certain things happen before and after the experience itself. A recent study at Johns Hopkins' showed the impressive effects of psilocybin sessions in stopping cigarette smoking in patients for more than 6 months. But, psilocybin has this effect when inserted in a process like the one on the study, with sessions of cognitive-behavioral therapy. It’s not as simple as eating psilocybin “magic” mushrooms and then losing the craving to smoke, although it would be wonderful if it were that easy!

How can an intense psychedelic experience lead to important changes in daily life? We need to desire them, and make a determined effort to change. Usually, those kinds of changes are supported in a relationship, be it with a therapist, a doctor, a healer, a shaman, a religious leader, or a group. Each one of the psychedelic substances tested exist within a context: specific ways of understanding the substance use and different ways of dealing with them; sometimes, in a religious, modern or traditional ritual. Those relationships are important for the patient when going through the process, and also to give meaning to the experience.

Many patients arrive expecting a “magic pill,” a new medicine that would solve everything for them, and that has a negative effect on their process. I receive patients in my office before, and after they take ibogaine. Most of the time I can clearly see a difference: they are calmer, it’s easier to face daily challenges and focus on what is important in their lives, and there’s a lack of craving. But it doesn’t mean that the addiction is cured, and not all of them can take advantage of these effects to really overcome their problem.

After ibogaine, many patients are aware of all they need to change in their lives; but really changing their habits is usually harder, as it depends on the patients. If the substance had solved everything for them, why change anything else in their routine? Many of them can’t get out of their established routines, and after, they just go on living in the same way: going to the same bars, meeting the same friends, looking for the same types of pleasures, and one day or another they’ll return to problematic drug use. When we need to change, it will always require effort from ourselves, but if we expect for someone or something to solve our problems for us, it may not be possible.

So, despite the increasing interest in ayahuasca, iboga, ibogaine, psilocybin, and other psychedelics in general, those substances, and the experiences they trigger, are still a new and vast continent to be explored. We are only now beginning to understand the complex interactions between psychedelic substances, psychology, and the setting in which people consume the psychedelic substances. It seems that psychedelics function differently from the traditional Western medicine remedies, and may be better understood as a therapeutic tool.

https://chacruna.net/treating-patients-with-ibogaine-ayahuasca/
 
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mr peabody

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Causes of cocaine and crack cocaine addiction

The suspected and alleged causes of addiction vary considerably, are not easily defined and are not fully understood. They are generally thought to be caused by a combination of genetic, physical, mental, circumstantial and emotional factors.

One problem is that addiction often leads to tolerance – the addict needs larger and more frequent amounts of whatever they are addicted to in order to receive the same effect. Often, the initial reward diminishes or is no longer felt, and the addiction continues in the hopes of somehow recapturing the reward or because the symptoms of withdrawal are so unpleasant.

Another problem is that substances that are inherently addictive because of their psychoactive affects are often if not usually illegal. So, not only is the person who is addicted to a substance unable to control or stop drug seeking and using behavior, they also must suffer from the ramifications of being addicted to an illegal substance. These ramifications are impure and variable substance potency, the necessity of having to associate with criminals that supply the illegal substance and subjection to a criminal justice system that seeks to protect the public principally through incarceration and other punishments.

Treatment with ibogaine

There are no restrictions of the use of Ibogaine in Mexico, Canada, Australia, Israel, New Zealand. In most countries, the use of this root for treatment of drug addictions and psychological disorders has seen exponential growth.

The 85-95% success rate of Ibogaine in helping patients to be addiction free has prompted a movement. There is an entire subculture of people that are aware of the positive and healing effects of Ibogaine for addictions and psychological disorders. They do not let the prohibition of Ibogaine in their own countries stop them from getting the help they need.

Treatment centers in Mexico and Canada have become very popular. Treatment in these countries consists of both regulated and non-regulated entities. It is up to the individual as to what kind of center and treatment they desire. Many people from the United States take advantage of Ibogaine services that are offered usually very close to both Mexican and Canadian borders.

Ibogaine is best known in the West for it’s use in “addiction interruption”. It is especially effective for opiates, heroin and alcohol, but, it also works for crack/cocaine, methamphetamine, nicotine and many other drugs. Ibogaine is an incredibly effective treatment for alcohol addiction. Sobriety can be achieved after a single dose, without the need for boosters.

Ibogaine counteracts a person’s addictions through powerful disruptive effects on the brain and addictive behavior. It causes them to regain control of their lives by effecting at least three types of major brain receptors.

Researchers have made some interesting findings. It is known that Ibogaine and Noribogaine bond with Opioid receptors, the same receptors that opiates like Heroin and Morphine bond with. Ibogaine also seems to ease the transmission of information along Opiod addiction. It bonds with the same receptors as Opiates while improving the function of Opioid Neurotransmitters. In doing so, Ibogaine prevents withdrawals, while the Opiates flush out of the system. It prevents cravings from re-emerging.

Essentially, Ibogaine hits a reset button. You come back down fundamentally rearranged. Things are not the same; there is an entire spectrum of changes taking place, Ibogaine brings your body and mental health back to a pre-addiction state. Anecdotal reports show immediate reduction in drug cravings, no withdrawal symptoms, and greater self-control.

While studies are still preliminary, the results to date offer tremendous hope. Patients maintained on methadone have been able to abruptly stop their methadone intake after only a single dose of Ibogaine with only minor symptoms. Many people also take Ibogaine for psychological and spiritual growth. It can take a person deep into their psyche and help them cope with unconscious issues. It can also make a person feel more connected to the universal Being that pervades everything.

Today more and more people are recognizing that psychedelics like Ibogaine are an excellent addition to psychotherapy, meditation and contemplation. Ibogaine has a miraculous quality about it, for both addiction interruption and psycho-spiritual purposes.

https://www.bajaibogainecenter.com/ibogaine-treatment-crack-cocaine/
 
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mr peabody

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Can a psychedelic from Africa cure addiction?

Since the 1960s a disparate group of scientists and former drug addicts have been advocating a radical treatment for addiction - a psychedelic called ibogaine, derived from an African plant, that in some cases seems to obliterate withdrawal symptoms from heroin, cocaine and alcohol. So why isn't it widely used?

For nearly 15 years, Thillen Naidoo's life was ruled by crack cocaine. Growing up in Chatsworth, a township on the outskirts of Durban in South Africa, he was surrounded by drugs.

After a troubled childhood and the death of his father, he turned to cocaine.

Though he held down a job as a carpenter and could go for days or even weeks without a hit, his wild drug binges often ended in arguments with his wife Saloshna and sometimes even physical abuse.

By the time he met Dr Anwar Jeewa at the Minds Alive Rehab Centre in Chatsworth, Naidoo had tried to quit several times and failed. "Those were dark, dark days," he says.

Jeewa offered a radical solution, a psychedelic drug used in tribal ceremonies in central Africa that would obliterate his cravings.

But Naidoo was anxious. "I didn't know what this ibogaine thing was," he says. "I never expected it to work."

After several medical tests he was given the pill.

A few hours later he lay in bed, watching flying fish swarm above his head. He felt the room move around him and a constant buzz rang in his ears. Scenes from his childhood flashed up briefly before his eyes and each time someone approached to check he was OK he felt a rush of fear.

The psychedelic effect wore off overnight but for the next few days Thillen was in a haze. When he returned home a week later, he realised he no longer craved cocaine. Six months later, he is still clean.

He attends a therapy group two days a week, where he learns the skills necessary to maintain a lifestyle without drugs.

"My mind has shifted now from what I used to be," he says. "I can look back at my childhood and deal with those issues without sobbing and feeling sorry for myself."

Jeewa estimates he has treated around 1,000 people with ibogaine but it remains largely unacknowledged by the medical mainstream.

The drug, derived from the root of a central African plant called iboga, had been used for centuries by the Bwiti people of Gabon and Cameroon, as part of a tribal initiation ceremony.

But it wasn't until 1962, when a young heroin addict called Howard Lotsof stumbled upon ibogaine, that its value as an addiction treatment was uncovered.

Lotsof took it to get high but when the psychedelic effects wore off, he realised he no longer had the compulsion to take heroin. He became convinced that he had found the solution to addiction and dedicated much of his life to promoting ibogaine as a treatment.

As far as scientists understand, ibogaine affects the brain in two distinct ways. The first is metabolic. It creates a protein that blocks receptors in the brain that trigger cravings, stopping the symptoms of withdrawal.

"Ibogaine tends to remove the withdrawals immediately and brings people back to their pre-addiction stage," says Jeewa. With normal detox this process can take months.

Its second effect is much less understood. It seems to inspire a dream-like state that is intensely introspective, allowing addicts to address issues in their life that they use alcohol or drugs to suppress.

Howard Lotsof's early campaign had little success and ibogaine was banned in the US, along with LSD and psilocybin mushrooms, in 1967.

In most other countries it remains unregulated and unlicensed. Lotsof set up a private clinic in the Netherlands in the 1980s and since then similar clinics have emerged in Canada, Mexico and South Africa.

These clinics operate in a legal grey area. But a small group of scientists is still working to bring ibogaine into the mainstream.

In the early 1990s, Deborah Mash, a neuroscientist and addiction specialist at the University of Miami, came upon the work of Dr Stanley Glick, a scientist who had researched the effect of ibogaine on rats.

Glick hooked rats on morphine, an opiate painkiller, by allowing them to self-administer it through a tube. He then gave them ibogaine and found they voluntarily stopped taking morphine.

Around the same time, Mash was contacted by Howard Lotsof. They began working together and in 1995 secured full approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate its potential in humans.

But these tests cost millions of dollars, and Mash applied for five separate public grants but each one was declined.

Usually, this money would come from big pharmaceutical companies but drugs like ibogaine offer little potential for profit.

It only has to be taken once, unlike conventional treatments for heroin addiction such as methadone which is a substitute and addictive itself.

"One very cynical reason they are not being developed is that there is no patent on these drugs anymore so there is no pharmaceutical company involvement," says Ben Sessa.

Pharmaceutical companies make money by patenting new chemicals but ibogaine is a naturally occurring substance and is difficult to secure a patent on.

It also comes with some risks. Ibogaine slows the heart rate and when administered to rats in very high doses, it has been proved to damage the cerebellum, a part of the brain associated with motor function.

There are 10 deaths known to be associated with the drug and its unregulated use has prompted some horror stories. Online forums are littered with stories of unscrupulous practitioners administering ibogaine in hotel rooms or in the patient's home with no medical support.

One alcoholic says he paid $10,000, and it didn't work at all. His respiration was not monitored and he didn't have any physical or psychological check-ups beforehand.

"The 'visions/trip' were so excruciating I never wanted to be altered again. I felt I was near death during the trip because I was having trouble breathing."

Ibogaine also has something of an image problem, says Glick.

"It has too much political baggage associated with it. By the time everybody became aware of it there was already scepticism because this was not something that came from a drug development programme."

After failing to get funding, Mash opened a private clinical research centre on the island of St Kitts in the Caribbean in 1996. There she collected data on 300 addicts detoxed through ibogaine.

She says all patients showed an effect on their addiction, 70% went into remission for several months and many for years. The clinic's first two patients are still drug-free 16 years later.

"Cocaine addiction is a terrible addiction," she says. "Getting people off crack? Good luck. We did it, we were able to break out intractable addicts."

Determined to bring the treatment to more people, Mash is now working with the private sector to create a version of the drug that will be more attractive to pharmaceutical companies.

She is working to isolate noribogaine, a substance created by ibogaine in the liver, which she believes is responsible for inhibiting cravings, taking away the psychedelic effect. But she continues to push for research into the whole drug.

Glick doesn't believe noribogaine will ever be approved in the US. "If for no other reason than that it is too closely related to ibogaine," he says.

He is developing an alternative but he regrets that significant testing into ibogaine has never been done.

According to a psychiatrist and addiction specialist, Dr Ben Sessa, the timing for this research could finally be right.

The past two years have seen the first scientific study published into the use of MDMA on trauma victims and psilocybin for psychotherapy, and a similar study into LSD is expected this year.

"Radical options are needed," says David Nutt, head of the UK's Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, but he maintains some scepticism about so-called wonder cures.

"The history of medicine is littered with people doing interesting, challenging things, but when you do proper control tests they reveal a massive placebo effect," he says.

What is needed, he says, is a single blind study in which one group of addicts takes a standardised dose of the drug and another group takes a placebo, both followed by a full 12-step detox treatment plan. He estimates that would cost about $2.37 million.

Clinicians like Jeewa would like to see the drug licensed but says people need to understand its limits.

"Once you have a patient that is drug free and whose brain is back to its full potential then you can help them change their lifestyle," says Jeewa.

"Ibogaine helps to interrupt addiction but it's not a cure or a magic bullet," he says. "It has to be taken in the right setting and treatment has to be followed up with psychosocial care."

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-17666589
 
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mr peabody

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A psych major’s experience with ibogaine treatment

by April Smith | April 19, 2018

Jason had been addicted to heroin from age 17 to age 21. He was a psychology major at a prominent university and on the verge of losing everything due to his addiction. Then he discovered a radical treatment, illegal in the United States, that changed his life.

The treatment – a psychedelic that produces hallucinations and apparent expansion of consciousness – was a naturally occurring plant-derived substance known as ibogaine.

Jason’s ibogaine story

"I was addicted to heroin for four years. I think it was largely due to childhood trauma. I went to rehab and got clean, but I still wasn’t happy. I didn’t feel like I had much of a direction or purpose, and I felt really disenfranchised by the system."

"I got kicked out of a sober house because I wouldn’t take antidepressants and Suboxone. I didn’t identify with Narcotics Anonymous at all, and I didn’t want to label myself as an addict. Then I discovered ibogaine."

My girlfriend, who had also been addicted to heroin, took it in Costa Rica. When she came back, she felt like a new person and was shining bright. I always had positive experiences with psychedelics – they were nothing like heroin or cocaine. Psilocybin (magic mushrooms) cleared up my suicidal thoughts as a teenager. I was a strict atheist at that time, but the first time I took mushrooms I had epiphany: I saw that there was something beyond this material world.

I raised money (with help from my parents) to go to Costa Rica, took ibogaine, and my life turned around. I completely lost the desire to use drugs. Suddenly, all these feelings I had – feelings that seemed automatic or robotic – became very malleable and changeable.

In my experience, ibogaine enabled me to go milestones from physical addiction in hours. I go back to Mexico now to a community where we treat people with ibogaine on my summer breaks. When I help treat people in Mexico for two or three days, they come in with serious addiction. In a normal rehab or program, they would suffer with withdrawal for a long time. With ibogaine, however, they take the treatment, then go to the beach where they can walk around for a while, then they sleep. No dope sickness. Not just the week when you’re kicking on the ground and your skin’s crawling, but the months when all your insecurities and emotions come up. The psychedelic aspects of ibogaine take care of that.

Visions help you contextualize the problems that people have, why they’re there, and what you can do to change. Even when people don’t have visions, the physical healing from the addiction is not the end of the recovery process. Ibogaine causes the brain to become neuroplastic, so it enables people to rapidly rebuild patterns in their life. Still, it’s so important to have aftercare. People shouldn’t go rapidly back to the same environment where they became addicted.

Where I work with ibogaine now, people generally stay in town for about three months after taking the treatment. It’s not just about the psychedelic; it’s about community. There’s this whole element of addicts treating other addicts. Being together with group of people with a common problem, or just being a part of a community, is what combats those insecurities and doubts. The spirit of this medicine is community. We get people into yoga or into sessions where they talk to a therapist, and we try to have patients come back to the center when someone else is being treated to support them. You’re initiated into a family. Community gives people a sense of meaning and purpose. Being in a place where you have community is so important.

There are ceremonies around the medicine that are about starting new life, letting go of things you don’t want to hold anymore and grabbing things you want. You see people become the people that they really are. A lot of times in life, people wear masks. When you watch people take ibogaine, you see them take off their masks. Someone who was anti-social is suddenly making friends. It’s amazing to watch."


https://www.rehabs.com/pro-talk-articles/a-psychology-majors-experience-with-addiction-and-ibogaine-treatment/

Dr. Bruno Chaves has performed over 1200 treatments with ibogaine in hospital without a single adverse event. 62% of those treated remain abstinent long term. Dr. Chaves is currently accepting patients for ibogaine treatment in São Paulo, Brazil. For more information, contact Dr. Chaves directly at : [email protected] -ed
 
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mr peabody

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Inside the São Paulo neighborhood known as Cracolândia


Inside Cracolândia: the open-air drug market that São Paulo just can’t kick

by Sam Cowie | The Guardian

The brazen drug scene of Cracolândia is unlike nearly anything in any city in the world – hundreds and sometimes thousands of addicts, congregating openly in the city’s bustling downtown core. Every mayor thinks they have a solution.

“It’s a horrible life. You don’t eat. You don’t sleep. Any money you can get goes on crack,” says Felipa Drumont.

Drumont is 26, trans, homeless and addicted to crack. For the last four years, she has lived on the streets of an area of central São Paulo that has become infamous: Cracolândia, literally “Crackland”.

Here, hundreds of people sit in the middle of the street, wrapped in blankets, and smoke crack openly. Others wander, wild eyed, looking for tin cans and other recyclables to sell. Most are skinny and gaunt, faces contorted from years of drug abuse. There is garbage everywhere and a thick smell of body odour.

Police patrol the perimeter, just metres away. They keep an eye on things but don’t intervene with the drug-taking or dealing. Instead, they mostly watch for other crimes, such as robbery. Municipal officers and NGO workers hover nearby.

Even more surprisingly, on weekdays, there are also workers with backpacks and suited office types, who scurry past on the opposite side of the street. Despite being a scene of intense urban degradation, Cracolândia in fact sits on prime real estate.

It is next to Luz, the city’s biggest and busiest train station. Less than 100m away is a neoclassical style concert hall that last year hosted a performance by American jazz legend Herbie Hancock. There are private technical colleges nearby, and a leisure centre. The office of South America’s biggest newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, known sometimes as the New York Times of Brazil, is a few blocks away.

None of it makes much difference to the addicts. Some exchange jokes or handshakes with each other, but most just look bewildered and lost.

It is unlike nearly anything in any city in the world. To some, including the current mayor, João Doria, that makes it an embarrassment.

After taking office in January, the business mogul declared war on Cracolândia. Early on a drizzly Sunday morning in May, Drumont watched as helicopters appeared overhead, and a veritable battalion of 900 armed police and security agents descended on the addicts. She says the police used rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the crowd.

“The police turned up throwing bombs at everyone,” she recalls. “Thank god I wasn’t injured, but I was terrified.”

Drumont and hundreds of other addicts scattered. Many took refuge in a nearby gas station; others checked themselves in for treatment at government programmes, or were accompanied by city social services to packed homeless shelters.

After breaking up the crack market, police raided local properties, seized drugs and guns, and arrested dozens of suspected traffickers.

Local government officials heralded the operation a success. Doria, triumphant, declared: “Cracolândia is over and won’t come back.”

Six months later, Cracolândia continues, just metres away from where it was cleared.

For readers familiar with the American TV series The Wire, Cracolândia looks like “Hamsterdam” – a section of vacant city blocks where, in an attempt to bring down street crime, Baltimore police set up a “free zone” for drug dealers and addicts.

There are, however, two key differences. First, Cracolândia isn’t located in vacant land, but right in the middle of the bustling downtown core. The area has been gentrifying, and an ambitious revitalisation is planned for 2018, including 1,200 new apartments.

The second difference is that this brazen drug scene has been a stubborn fixture of downtown São Paulo for more than two decades.

After Cracolândia first appeared in the 1990s, when the highly addictive smoked form of cocaine entered the city’s narcotics market, a succession of governments have tried – and failed – to end it, mostly via repressive policing.

Since then, the fluxo (“flow”), as the concentration of users is known, has moved around the neighbourhood, chased from street to street by heavy-handed police operations.

In 2008, mayor Gilberto Kassab sent police to disperse the addicts, just as his successor Fernando Haddad would nine years later. Kassab, as Doria did, declared: “Cracolândia no longer exists.”

In 2012, the city’s then-justice secretary said the same thing, this time in relation to a crackdown dubbed “Operation Pain and Suffering”.

Both times, the addicts simply regrouped down the street.

After the raid in May, Cracolândia re-formed just 400m away, in a park. Drumont followed: the raid didn’t dissuade her from taking crack. “I used even more drugs because I was nervous and scared,” she says.

Nevertheless, for those who say Cracolândia must go, the tactics enjoy broad approval. Supporters consider Cracolândia a menace, arguing that it gives power to organised crime, degrades the city and perpetuates a cycle of drug addiction and misery.

Exact data is scarce, but it is thought Brazil is home to the highest number of crack users in the world. According to the last national crack survey in 2014 by the Fiocruz medical institute, there are around 370,000 regular users in 27 city state capitals and the federal district.

Brazil shares porous borders with all of the main cocaine-producing nations: Bolivia, Colombia and Peru.

São Paulo is also the base of Brazil’s most powerful drug trafficking gang, the PCC (“First Command of the Capital”). Authorities say the PCC plays a controlling role in supplying Cracolândia.

According to them, the crackdown was necessary to break the hold of drug trafficking in the neighbourhood.

“With the May operation, the state retook territory that was dominated by drug traffic, facilitating the work of health and social workers,” says Floriano Pesaro, social development secretary for São Paulo state government.

As evidence for the success of their strategy, they point to a study – commissioned by the state government – showing that Cracolândia has got smaller: from 1,861 users before the operation in May to 414 in July, a reduction of 77%.

Clarice Sandi Madruga, coordinator of the survey, says there are many reasons for the drop. Some addicts have sought help, she says; others used the opportunity of the operation to flee from debts with drug dealers.

"What’s more," she says, "as many as one third of current Cracolândia residents are new arrivals who come for the services, such as health treatment and meals provided by City Hall), and the relative safety." Drumont corroborates that claim: "For junkies," she says, "there is certainly a safety in numbers, providing you don’t break the rules, such as stealing from others."

For Madruga, notwithstanding the fact that Cracolândia still exists, the combination of a bit of carrot and a lot of stick has worked. “Something needed to be done,” she said.

Addicted and abandoned

But if many Paulistanos supported the raid – 60%, according to a poll by Datafolha – many others did not.

They argue that Cracolândia is symptomatic of the city’s wider problems: of poverty, homelessness and inequality. They say Cracolândia, for all its problems, acts as a refuge for the city’s addicted, downtrodden and abandoned.

“The effort by the São Paulo government is a classic example of the ‘war on drugs’ approach that for decades has failed to reduce drug use, driven people who use drugs away from essential health services, and given rise to widespread human rights violations,” says Cesar Munoz, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Even inside government, some officials are irate, seeing in the raid the same old discredited tactics.

“The traffickers they arrested are just small-time dealers,” says Arthur Pinto Filho, a senior official of the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Human Rights in Public Health of the state of Sao Paulo.

“The traffic continues,” he adds. “It was a huge waste of public money: they are in the same spot. It was a step backwards. This is the same thing that has been done for years and never worked.”

Although everyone agrees Cracolândia is smaller than it was at its peak, many are sceptical of the government’s explanation, and say it’s probably due to a simple fact: police violence.

“Even if there was a reduction of this size, it’s not because of treatment, stopping to use or quality of life,” says Thiago Calil of the NGO É de Lei, who has worked in the region for 13 years. “Addicts are leaving the centre because there is huge police repression.”

City Hall employs more than 150 health workers in the Cracolândia area. Two of them, not authorised to speak on record, said that the police raids had increased mistrust and made it more difficult to approach addicts to help.

Yet another criticism is that raids merely disperse users into “mini-Cracklands”, of dozens rather than hundreds of addicts. At least 22 of these have been identified across the city.

“We understand from our teams that users have gone from the centre, and are using crack in other scenes, more on the outskirts of the city,” said Calil.

Better 22 mini-Cracklands than one big Cracolândia, argues Felipe Sabara, secretary of social assistance at São Paulo city government. He claims it’s easier to provide social assistance to users if they are less concentrated.

“The more people there are, the bigger density the crowd, the harder the approach,” Sabara says, blaming organised crime and the connection that users establish with their turf.

Sabara says his team is "expanding outreach services across the city to deal with the dispersal, and disputed the accusation that City Hall merely wants to sweep Cracolândia under the rug in order to help gentrify the neighbourhood."

“We are doing the opposite,”
he says. “We are resolving the problem.”

Still, Pesaro is under no illusions that Cracolândia has easy solutions. “We know that it will be a difficult and long process,” he adds.

Even Doria has backpedalled, now noting that Cracolândia is a historic problem, and saying the focus should be “to reduce it sensibly and end the 24-hour drug shopping mall.”




Redemption

Six months since the raid, Drumont is now two months clean. She lives in Tent 2, a structure set up by City Hall in the heart of Cracolândia, where she gets a bed and meals as part of a programme, called Redemption.

The beds are in portable shipping containers; there are more than 300 spaces, and warm showers.

She says it was the raid that got her off the streets: the escalation of police operations prompted her to get clean and seek assistance.

“Things were always bad here, but they’re getting worse,” she says.

She wants to find a job, and is waiting for a space in a city shelter for LGBT people; but her first priority is to sort out her ID and other documents, which she lost while sleeping rough.

She faces two huge barriers to employment, however: lack of education and her identity as a trans woman. At least in Cracolândia, she says, no one judged her.

“We need more opportunity,” she says. “Not just meals and handouts.”

Sabara says the government recognises this ultimate need, and points to the New Job programme, which he says has created more than 1,500 jobs for people living on the streets. Twenty-two are from Cracolândia.

But for Cleizer Alves de Paulo, 31, who continues to smoke crack each day, such opportunities seem far off. Cleizer lives in one of the local hotels and makes money tattooing drug dealers in the heart of Cracolândia. He has been imprisoned five times, the first time for armed robbery.

“No one wants to employ someone who is addicted to drugs,” he says.

The previous administration, led by the left-leaning Haddad, instituted a programme called Bracos Abertos (“Of Open Arms”), in which some 450 addicts were given a cash stipend and shelter in exchange for sweeping the streets and other small custodial tasks.

The programme was praised by international drug reform agencies, including the Open Society Foundation; but after critics said that the hotels where the addicts were housed had become dominated by drug traffickers, Doria promised to end it. Today, it scrapes by on a skeleton staff, and is expected to shut for good in December.

It is precisely this pendulum swinging between two political approaches – to inflict or reduce harm – that Francisco Inacio Bastos, who led the last national crack survey in 2014, blames for Cracolândia’s disturbing longevity.

São Paulo has changed mayor every four years, he notes, and at the heart of the Crackland problem is an ideological debate in Brazil of how drug addiction should be treated.

“What we see is change of project every administration, without any continuation. It’s all political. We need a minimum of a consensus, nationwide,” he argues. “Not right or left, but based on scientific arguments worldwide. Without this, it will continue as it is.”

For Drumont, despite her two months of sobriety, the allure of Cracolândia remains strong. She abandoned her apartment after taking up crack, and like many addicts, most of whom have little contact with their families, she says Cracolândia’s main appeal is its community feel, however dysfunctional.

“We are like a family of the excluded,” she says.


Brazilian Dr. Bruno Chaves has performed over 1200 treatments with ibogaine in hospital without a single adverse event. 62% of those treated have remained abstinent long term. Dr. Chaves is currently accepting new patients for treatment in hospital in São Paulo, Brazil. For more information, contact Dr. Chaves directly at : [email protected] -pb
 
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mr peabody

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What happens on ibogaine

by German Lopez

A large dose of ibogaine can prevent opioid withdrawal, and eliminate craving for painkillers and heroin for up to months at a time, making it a potent tool for detox. And the psychedelic experience can cause what users describe as a profound shift in perspective, allowing them to see their life more clearly and make important adjustments for the better.

I spoke to two recovering opioid addicts, Steve and Kevin, who took ibogaine at a medical clinic where the drug is administered to treat drug abuse.

Steve's description of his hallucinogenic trip captures just how intense it can be :

"I felt like I was flying around outer space in my soul. I later realized that it was the infinite universe. I'm floating around in this place, hearing this buzzing noise in the background, but experiencing nothing but pure joy and happiness. It made me realize what our purpose is here, that we're all spiritual beings on a spiritual experience, the ride is whats important, and how to be a good person."

Kevin explained a similar intense phenomenon: "It corresponded with this intense visual experience in which I had my eyes closed, and my vision was just catapulted outside my mind into this abstract vision that looked like being in space. It was very, very exotic, and came on very strongly and powerfully, but none of it was scary. I felt very safe."

The closed eyes are an important detail: Unlike LSD and magic mushrooms, ibogaine doesn't tend to cause visual hallucinations in a person's surroundings. It invokes something closer to a dreamlike trance, which produces astonishing visuals when a user's eyes are shut. People describe anything from traveling through space, like Kevin, to seeing dead relatives who relay important wisdom.

"The hallucination is really important, Steve said. It lets you unplug, where there's no cellphones, no anxiety, money has no meaning, all possessions in your life have zero meaning. So you're sitting in a dark room, and you can sit there and talk to your inner self and figure out what's truly important in your life."

Kevin said ibogaine allowed him to pursue traditional, abstinence-focused treatments he previously rejected. Those were, he said, crucial to getting clean, but he wasn't open to them before ibogaine.

"Ibogaine changed my relationship with addictive drugs, he said. It opened the window for me to actually embrace life without drugs. I feel like it provided me with an opportunity to face my everyday living without feeling like I needed to be high."

Ibogaine's detox effects and hallucinogenic experience make it easier for addicts to find that good environment: With fresh perspective and no cravings calling them back to heroin, addicts stand a much better chance of recovery. It worked for Steve and Kevin.

• • •

Ibogaine was more powerful than anything I had ever imagined, even with extensive experience with psychedelics. It was as if I was part of an all-knowing universe, one that knew me and loved me absolutely. It took me all the way to the bottom of myself, showed me everything about my life, all the stuff about my addiction, my relationships, my family, my ancestors, my lineage, everything and everyone like, intertwined. I saw that it was all right, and I was able to just let go of trying to control, impress, fix, judge, condemn. I was able, at last, to simply surrender.

I felt as though I was being restructured from the ground up, at the very cellular level, renewed, restored, reborn. Even telling it now, I'm not even close to how powerful and intense it was. At a point I found myself in my bed, which was burning with a magenta fire, a flame of purification. All around my bed, and within the fire, were these tiny brown ladies chanting and singing and praying and meditating over me. I recognized them as my ancient ancestors, saw myself at the center of a timeless transdimensional healing ritual. I knew it was time to for me to receive this, that it was something like a karmic unfolding, a very important moment in my life. It was like coming home after being gone for a very long time.

My aftercare and early recovery were extremely challenging. My body was in an extreme detox for several months, night sweats, nausea, dehydration, manic restless legs, long sleepless nights. It got a little better every day, but it was a really tough time. There were times when I literally begged Martin to put me back on suboxone. He and the Clinic staff stayed in close touch with me throughout the entire process. At one point, I actually had a pill in my hand. I was right on the edge, just about to take it when the phone rang. It was Deanne, my counselor, and she's like, "What're you doing right now?" That call was an absolute miracle. I swear it saved my life.

I've been clean for a year and a half now. There were still some challenging times, but I was so much clearer, and I got so much better. The Clinic supported me all the way. I still talk to Deanne all the time. I've got a job that I love, an amazing new boyfriend, my relationships with my family are healed; my life is totally different than it was. Im healthier and happier than I can ever remember being. I have no craving or desire for the drugs that used to control my life. It is as if they have simply been removed from my life. Ive been given a chance to hit the reset button, to begin my life again.

Ibogaine is not a miracle drug. You have to really want it, and you have to be willing to do the work, and it is some of the most challenging work I've ever done in my life. You also want to make sure you're doing it safely, with people you know you can trust. But if you are ready, then ibogaine will definitely change your life.

-Amanda

• • •

My ibogaine treatment was the most intense, scary, overwhelming, powerful and profoundly beneficial experience of my life. There's just no way to put it into words, especially if you don't have extensive experience with psychedelics. It goes way beyond anything I ever experienced before. I could talk for hours about it, but to be honest, it's not the trip itself that matters. It's what happens after, in how you take the things ibogaine teaches you and put them to work in your life. The bottom line is that ibogaine did what it promised, did what I was praying for: it took me through opiate detox with no withdrawals or cravings. But I also recognized that my freedom depended on my willingness to leverage to it to change my life in a radical way.

I dove into action through the window ibogaine opened for me. I got very involved in 12-step recovery, worked the steps relentlessly; I sponsor other guys. I'm doing work that I love. I help people make money, and that combines with a sense of service both in my personal life and in my work. It's an amazing way to live!

I was terrified before I went for treatment, like this was my last hope, my last shot on planet earth. It's important to realize this is not a magic bullet or a quick fix. It is a profoundly powerful medicine that has the capacity to completely transform your life. Be true to yourself before you go, know what you're going for, and be willing to do the work.

-Zack

• • •

I'm a therapist, a caretaker. The toughest thing I ever had to do was let go. Our daughter's heroin addiction had taken us to the edge of the abyss. There were jails, hospitals, rehabs. We sent her for four months to one of those high-end places, in Malibu. We spent almost a quarter of a million dollars on that one. Vanja came home 40 pounds heavier, with multiple pathological 'diagnoses' and addicted to 13 prescription medications. She relapsed on her first day out of rehab. It was so painful. We'd put all our hopes into that, and we were sure it was her last chance. When she relapsed on day one, it was like hearing a death sentence for both of us. I knew I couldn't live like that anymore. I didn't want to live at all anymore.

I came to see the roots of my own co-dependency with my daughters addiction, how if either of us was to have a chance, I had to let go and pray that she would find her way. It was the most difficult thing I've ever had to do as a parent, but I knew I had to do it. It wasn't long before my daughter was full-on in her addiction, homeless on the streets of Toronto in January.

When my daughter contacted me about ibogaine, there was no money for treatment. Wed already spent everything many times over. Still, my own research convinced me this might be the very thing Vanja needed. So I sprung for her treatment with a credit card. I remember thinking, I'm putting my daughters life on my American Express card. Vanja was an absolute wreck. I didn't think she would ever make it to Mexico for treatment, but I took my hands off the wheel and let Vanja handle it herself.

She came home about a week later. She was totally transformed, like shed been clean for a year. I knew right away something major had happened when the first words out of her lips were, "How are you, mom?" She actually cared about someone besides herself. I never worried about her after that, like she would relapse or something. This was like a wholly different person, a different kind of clean than Id ever seen before.

Vanja's been clean for a year and a half, and continues to be loving, radiant, accountable, dependable. Relationships with the whole family are greatly improved. Vanja's been able to grieve the shattering loss of her fiance in a car accident some years back, and has found new love and nurturing work with kids. Finding that 12-step meetings just didn't work, Vanja chose not to seek out any formal aftercare management, treatment or therapy. Despite this, Vanja has no cravings. It's like someone's returned the daughter they stole from me 15 years ago.

The moment I let go, the teachers came. I had to accept their lessons and learn to trust. In this way, I empowered my daughter to find the help she needed. Enabling is disabling! Yes, I recommend ibogaine, especially if you've already tried and failed with other approaches. It is something else entirely. My daughter believed she could never get clean, never get free, but here she is! Ibogaine is by no means a magic potion. You have to be ready to dig deep and do the work. Yes, you want to have your treatment supervised by someone whose medical expertise and professional ethics you can trust. You know, you hear a lot about the so-called risks. Compared to the risks of heroin addiction, which is like 100% certainty of death if you don't get clean - the risks of ibogaine, properly managed, are like a walk in the park.

-Tara
 
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mr peabody

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"I think your in a position... where you're gonna have to decide whether you're hanging on the cross,
or banging in the nails."



Global cocaine production reaches all-time high

by Andy Gregory | The Independent | July 1, 2019

Drug consumed by 18 million people worldwide, report finds.

Global cocaine production hit record levels in 2017 after surging by 25 percent in just a single year, a United Nations report has found.

Of the 1,976 tonnes of 100 per cent pure cocaine produced, a record 1,275 were seized by authorities, but researchers at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated the drug was still consumed by 18.1 million people worldwide in 2017.

The report also found that recreational drug use is increasing, and suggested that 35 million people currently suffer from drug use disorders worldwide, with only one in seven people receiving treatment.

“The findings of this year’s World Drug Report fill in and further complicate the global picture of drug challenges, underscoring the need for broader international cooperation to advance balanced and integrated health and criminal justice responses to supply and demand,” said Yury Fedotov, UNODC’s executive director.

Researchers attributed the drastic rise in cocaine production to criminal groups affecting coca bush cultivation in Colombia, which accounts for 70 percent of global cocaine production and saw a 31 percent rise in output.

Peru and Bolivia also saw increases in coca cultivation, and together accounted for the remaining 30 per cent of global output.

Colombia’s role in the global supply of cocaine was long exacerbated by a bloody civil war lasting 52 years. However, production has continued to rise after 2016’s peace deal, struck between the government and guerilla movement Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc).

Measures encouraging poor farmers to swap coca for other crops were introduced under the peace accord, but political divisions still hinder these efforts.

In order to fund its army, the rebel organisation previously taxed coca farmers living in areas under its control and trafficked the drug.

Since the peace deal was struck, a stream of smaller armed groups are stepping in to take its place, often forcing farmers not to abandon coca with threats and brute force.

Shortly after taking office in August 2018, President Iván Duque ambitiously pledged to reduce the land mass used for coca bush cultivation by 140,000 hectares by the end of his four years in power.

The United States has joined Colombia in its battle with cocaine production, and on Tuesday the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) reported a minor drop in the land area used for cultivating coca of 208,000 hectares in 2018, down by 1,000 from the year before.

Earlier this month, President Duque told CNBC that his administration had put an end to coca cultivation in 60,000 hectares since he took office last August.

Colombia’s efforts to crack down on trafficking of the drug have also been increasingly successful, and it was responsible for intercepting 38 percent of the global total seized in 2017.

“In working closely with President Duque, we are seeing Colombia make progress in accomplishing our shared goal of significantly reducing coca cultivation and cocaine production,” ONDCP director Jim Carroll said.

The number of cocaine users in the US is estimated to have risen 40 percent between 2014 and 2017, with deaths involving the drug rising by nearly 160 percent.

 
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mr peabody

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The psychedelic tree that cures addiction in one dose

In West Africa, the roots of a native shrub contain a psychoactive substance called ibogaine. In small doses, ibogaine produces a mild euphoric effect somewhat comparable to other stimulant plants, like khat in the Horn of Africa or piri piri in the Amazon. But in large doses, its psychedelic effects are extraordinary.

Ibogaine's closest analog is ayahuasca, a drug used for shamanic purposes in South America and increasingly appropriated by foreigners chasing its promise of fantastical hallucinations and inner clarity. Ibogaine takes all that and doubles down. With the exception of the colorful visual patterns associated with ayahuasca, pretty much everything about ibogaine is more extreme, more profound. An ayahuasca trip lasts around four hours; a trip on ibogaine can last more than a day. Ayahuasca facilitates lucid dreaming; ibogaine facilitates way more intense lucid dreaming. The effects are so literally flooring that people typically remain horizontal for the duration, trying not to move, lest they vomit. They see God. They talk to the dead. Paralyzing forks in the road of their personal lives melt smoothly into a single path forward.

"With ibogaine, it's much more intense," Bruno Gomes, a Brazil-based psychologist who's been working with ibogaine for drug dependency since 2010, tells Inverse by phone. "People have a lot of memories about deceased parents, about moments in their lives, meaningful moments or sometimes not meaningful."

With ayahuasca, it's common to feel calmer, less depressed, and more present and engaged with life for a week or so after the initial trip. The afterglow from ibogaine, however, can last for months. Substance addiction simply vanishes, according to some, with no symptoms of withdrawal.

Why, in an age when nearly every party drug is being pushed into federal trials for addiction and mental illness, when drug tourists who fetishize the mysticism associated with indigenous psychedelics are in the market for ever-bigger thrills, and when the opioid epidemic is killing tens of thousands each year, have so few Americans heard of ibogaine?

Ibogaine is an active substance derived from the bark of the iboga tree. It's commonly used for religious purposes by people indigenous to Cameroon and Gabon, who ingest it by stripping the root bark and eating it. Unlike the traditionally ritualistic use of ayahuasca, it's traditional for a person to take a high dose of ibogaine just once in their life.

In 1962, a teenage heroin addict from The Bronx named Howard Lotsof happened upon an extract of the substance in powder form. He took it searching for a high, found one, and also found that when it wore off, it took his desire for heroin with it. Six friends who were also junkies tried it; five went clean immediately, with none of the painful withdrawal for which heroin is notorious.

Lotsof became a lifelong activist for the research of ibogaine for drug dependency.

Ibogaine had been studied at low doses for its stimulant effect in western cultures before, including by the CIA in the 1950s. But Lotsoff was the first to realize its high-dose potential for addiction recovery, and in the wake of his discovery a subculture of heroin and cocaine users seeking it to help with cravings and withdrawal spread across the United States, as well as other countries like the Netherlands.

It's most common for Americans seeking ibogaine these days to try Mexico or the Bahamas. A few will make the trip to Gabon, but it's not exactly the most time- or cost-effective way to indulge a curiosity, even a potentially life-saving one. (Gomes also says that, from what he's heard, people in Gabon aren't thrilled with the arrival of strangers at their door, bringing some combination of heroin addiction and/or misguided expectation of mysticism.) The most important thing is to just make sure the practitioner overseeing its administration is a legit one. Taken properly, ibogaine is generally very safe. Taken improperly, without clearing any number of pre-existing medical issues, you can die.

Other countries like New Zealand and Canada have recently begun to legislate therapeutic uses, and it's a de facto national treasure in Gabon, where members of the Bwiti religion use it in coming-of-age ceremonies. But the sparse body of controlled research, coupled with the very real risk of death, has kept it from making any real headway in the States. MAPS has had some success introducing clinical trials in other countries, but FDA regulation still seems a ways off for any U.S.-based research. It remains Schedule I, even as the opioid crisis continues to grow.

In Brazil, which has no such crisis, Gomes and his colleagues work with patients addicted to (predominately) crack cocaine. Though they'll meet with their patients a number of times, they'll administer ibogaine to each person only once. Speaking at the MAPS Psychedelic Science Conference in California late last month, Gomes said most people he sees are addicts for whom traditional therapy and the various Anonymous programs have failed. They tend to be impatient with the precursor meetings and adherence to controlled settings, wanting mostly to get the drug, take it, and leave cured.

Ibogaine's place in the global consciousness is such that most people in most cultures still haven't heard of it, but that the ones who have tend to view it as sort of no-strings-attached miracle drug. Part of Gomes' work is to install a more comprehensive and less reductive understanding of ibogaine's usage; it's a tool, possibly a singular one, but it's not magic. The effects might not wear off for months, but they do wear off, and so addicts seeking treatment will still need to implement some lifestyle changes going forward.

The reason ibogaine remains comparatively anonymous in the West despite its potential as a psychedelic powerhouse probably have something to do with the geographical distance to its traditional usage compared to, for instance, peyote in the Southwest, and the fact that it's also just a hard substance to physically procure. Ibogaine may be lesser-known outside Gabon than its peers, but that doesn't mean that increased demand hasn't hiked the prices dramatically over the last decade or so. Iboga trees also need eight years to mature before the bark is ripe, so to speak, for harvesting, and in order to harvest the plants you do need to kill them. Labs have begun to produce a sort of synthetic ibogaine from the plant Voacanga africana in an effort to make the drug more environmentally and economically sustainable, but it's still very much a nascent field.

Gomes took ibogaine four years ago. He'd already been treating patients with it for another four years before that and admitted that seeing them before and after, coupled with their descriptions of extraordinary experiences, led him to some preconceived expectations that didn't end up bearing out. But what he did experience changed him profoundly; his description of it is also pretty close to what hordes of drug tourists and New Agers will be chasing when they decide they want, the next time, something beyond peyote or ayahuasca.

"It didn't even seem to be my thinking, you know?" Gomes recalls. "It was like a very intense flood of thoughts, a river of thoughts from my head, and with this river, I got three very important things that I needed to deal with, in three situations in my life, concerning my job, concerning my studies, and concerning my personal life with my girlfriend, and I got a way to go forward, and since the last four years I have been taking this trail. And it helped all of those things to make sense."

https://www.inverse.com/article/31461-ibogaine-cure-addiction
 
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What does cocaine do to the heart?

VICE | 14 Jul 2019

Hate to be the one to tell you this, but: cocaine is not good for you. Let that bombshell sink in for a moment. As well as being bad for the soul, coke is also terrible for your heart, which is easily one of the top five most important organs... of all time. How can you expect to live, laugh or love without a heart? Consider the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, the most famous heartless man of all. What is the Tin Man? He's a pathetic oddball. A weird, sexless, freak. Hopefully this gives you some food for thought re: your gear intake.

It's a bit of a buzzkill having to consider your own mortality while hoovering up a line, which means that if you're a regular user it can be tempting to respond to information about the risks by putting your fingers in your ears. But it's worth knowing. Ignorance is bliss, but only up to the point you find yourself having a cardiac arrest at the age of 34.

So what does using cocaine actually do to your heart?

THE BIOLOGY

Nick Hickmott, Team Leader at drug and alcohol charity Addaction, explains: "Cocaine constricts the blood vessels around the heart, reducing the blood flow. It raises blood pressure, making it beat faster. It puts pressure on the heart and makes it work harder than it usually needs do." The result is that regular cocaine use can increase your risk of heart disease.

But it's pointless considering the risk posed by cocaine use in isolation – because who ever takes coke by itself? As Vod in the Channel 4 sitcom Fresh Meat says, "Coke is not a drug. It's a facilitator for consuming other substances. Think of coke as your mate – poking you awake with a pointy stick at 4 in the morning, reminding you to pour more and more dirt into your system."

MIXING COCAINE AND ALCOHOL

Cocaine and alcohol are the two most notorious bedfellows: the Alfie Deyes and Zoella of poly-drug use. It's estimated that three-quarters of cocaine users drink while doing gak. Unfortunately, this combination is even more dangerous, elevating your heart rate and blood pressure more than cocaine would on its own.

In the short term, this could literally kill you: a recent study showed that emergency department patients who used a combination of alcohol and cocaine died more often than those who had just taken coke.

SOME TIPS

When taking cocaine, you should try to keep your alcohol intake as low as possible. And if you really don't enjoy doing cocaine without drinking, maybe you just... don't enjoy it? Being really pissed yet wide awake can be fun, yes, but is it enjoyable enough to worth risking death, either immediately or after a drawn out bout of heart disease?

If you are fully committed to the sesh, or have regularly used cocaine in the past, is there any way of fortifying your heart? Is the damage reversible?

Guy Jones, a harm reduction specialist, tells VICE, "Long-term regular cocaine use can lead to heart tissue swelling and scarring, and while the swelling is reversible via exercise and not doing loads of gear all the time, the scarring – which results in permanent damage to the heart and a potential early death – is not."

It's possible, and generally a good idea, to strengthen your heart by living an otherwise healthy lifestyle, with regular exercise and a healthy diet (a professional athlete, Guy says, would "probably be less likely to die" from coke). But you can neither reverse nor avoid the damage it causes entirely. As annoying as it is having to think about death, it’s important to understand and acknowledge the risks you’re taking. That way, at least you're well within your rights to say, "Fuck it, I’m gonna do it anyway – heart disease be damned!"

 
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Fentanyl is linked to thousands of urban overdose deaths.


Surge in cocaine mixed with fentanyl has communities on edge

by Marc Nathanson | ABC News | Jun 28, 2019

The fear was the worst part for Ryan Fowler.

The New Hampshire native spent 10 years addicted to heroin, which has been increasingly mixed with the synthetic opioid fentanyl to boost its potency.

"I was full of a lot of fear, doubt and insecurity, and I didn't know how to cope with it, so when I found drugs it was my solution," Fowler told ABC News. "The anxiety I didn't have language for went away. So drugs were my solution -- until they really turned on me."

Three times, Fowler said he nearly died from overdoses, only to be revived each time by emergency responders. Authorities say fentanyl has been driving opioid overdose rates for years, and now they're facing a new challenge as fentanyl shows up more and more in another popular drug: cocaine.

"Cocaine, New York's nemesis of the 90s, is back -- indicating traffickers' push to build an emerging customer base of users mixing cocaine with fentanyl," DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan told ABC News in March, after officials seized $77 million worth of cocaine at the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Officials say they're seeing more fentanyl in cocaine because drug traffickers are looking for ways to make cocaine more attractive, which they need to do because a surplus of coca plants in Colombia has resulted in an overabundance in the marketplace.

The cocaine seizure in New York in March, the biggest there in 25 years, was dwarfed last week by the seizure of more than $1 billion worth of cocaine on a cargo ship passing through Philadelphia on its way from Chile to Europe. The historic bust, one of the largest in U.S. history, comes amid a series of large drug seizures in the Northeast.

Some 38,000 pounds of cocaine had been seized from Oct. 1 to May 31, 2019, compared with nearly 52,000 pounds over the entire previous fiscal year, according to Customs and Border Protection.

And in April, for instance, the DEA confiscated more than 100 pounds of suspected cocaine and fentanyl in a truckload of Tupperware in New Jersey.

The increasing presence of fentanyl in cocaine is the latest twist in a public health crisis that's pushed U.S. overdose rates to record levels. Whether consumed alone or in combination with other drugs, fentanyl has topped the list of the nation's deadliest drugs for the third year in a row, causing the rate of drug overdose deaths to more than quadruple since 1999.

Since 2014, synthetic opioids like fentanyl in combination with cocaine have caused an even greater surge in overdose deaths, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Today, Fowler, who's been drug-free for four years, helps others combat addiction as a community engagement specialist for the Doorway program at New Hampshire's Granite Pathways, a social services organization located in the state that many see as ground zero in the opioid epidemic. But the 29-year-old knows that the popularity of fentanyl means he's facing an uphill battle.

"It's a really acute opioid," he said of the synthetic drug, which scientists say is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine. "You can spend a couple hundred dollars on the internet and order a gram of pure fentanyl and turn that into tens of thousands of dollars really quickly -- and in the process, kill people unknowingly."

That's because a tiny amount of fentanyl can boost a drug's potency to deadly levels, according to authorities.

In a 2018 bulletin, the DEA noted a 112% increase in the presence of cocaine and fentanyl together in drug samples and a decrease in fentanyl/heroin combination. And of those cocaine samples, 59% also contained heroin.




"This determination supports the theory that increased cocaine supply without corresponding consumer demand may result in cocaine being used as an adulterant to the existing heroin supply, with or without the knowledge of the seller or buyer," the report said.

A DEA report from Florida in the same year said that "deadly" contaminated cocaine was "widespread" in the state.

"The widespread seizures of contaminated cocaine indicate that drug dealers are commonly mixing fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances into the drug (cocaine)," the report said. "In some cases, this is done purposefully to increase the drug's potency or profitability (and customer base). In other cases, fentanyl is inadvertently mixed into cocaine by drug dealers using the same blending equipment to cut various types of drugs, such as heroin."

The biggest risk comes to those who use cocaine only occasionally, the DEA report said.

"Sometimes, if people who occasionally use cocaine are not opioid users, they're really at increased risk for an overdose because they're what we call 'opioid naive' -- they have no tolerance," Dr. Denise Paone, of the New York City Department of Health, told ABC News.

In 2017, fentanyl was New York City's deadliest drug, identified in 57% of the city's overdose deaths, Health Department figures show.




As a result, this month the department is running the latest in a series of public health campaigns to warn drug users of the dangers of mixing fentanyl with other drugs. The $730,000 campaign is using outdoor media and online ads to encourage users to avoid mixing drugs and avoid using drugs without others present. It also encourages users to carry the opioid-blocking drug naloxone, which could reverse a potentially fatal overdose.

"We're providing messaging about the presence of fentanyl cut into various substances, including cocaine," Paone said of the campaign, which follows similar efforts in 2017 and 2018. The city also distributed more than 100,000 naloxone kits last year.

The greatest danger, Paone said, often comes when fentanyl is present without the user's knowledge.

"Fentanyl is so potent, and it's really hard for someone to tell if it's in the substance they intend to use," Paone added. "This really is a crisis."

That's why last year Fowler spearheaded a campaign through Safe Harbor Recovery Center to provide free fentanyl testing strips to users around Seacoast, New Hampshire. When a user mixes a tiny amount of their drug with water, then dips a test strip into the mixture, the strip will indicate whether fentanyl is present.

"The cool part about providing people with the ability to test their drugs for what's in them is that it regulates the drug market really, really quickly," Fowler said. "If you can go back to the person who's selling to you and say 'Hey, this has fentanyl in it, and I don't want that stuff,' it kind of sorts itself out like any economy would. It's like you and I would go to a store and look at a label and say, 'I don't want high fructose corn syrup, so I'm not going to buy this product, I'm going to buy this other product.'"

For Fowler, education is part of a wider approach to combating drug addiction that includes treatment and counseling. "With more than 50,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. each of the last three years, the fight," Fowler said, "has never been more important."

"I'm sitting here watching friends die preventable deaths,"
he added. "It's really frustrating."

 
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My experience with ibogaine

I had quite a bit of anxiety leading up to this experience. Frankly I was very scared, but I was determined to go through with it. After taking the drug I went to my bedroom and sat on the bed to await the onset. As soon as I had gotten to my bedroom I began to notice some strange flashing in the corners of my eyes, but I at first dismissed it. It had been 5 minutes since I had taken the dose, so I did not even consider it possible that it was the ibogaine. But in another 5 minutes it was obvious to me that something strange was happening to my vision, and although I still thought there was no way the ibogaine could be taking effect so quickly, I started to have doubts that it wasn't.

Another 5 minutes removed all doubt. I was definitely starting to feel it come on. And I panicked. My senses were completely unreliable. I had by this time started to feel as if I was dissolving. It felt as if my insides had turned into acid and I was slowly coming apart molecule by molecule. I also had the sensation of sinking, of moving downward, backwards, as I was lying on my back. So I prayed. I prayed without reservation, I just said to whatever there might be that could hear my prayer, that I needed help, that I was terrified. And I immediately felt relief. I felt an overwhelming feeling of love just completely envelope me. It was like a wind to which I was completely transparent that blew straight through me and filled every square inch.

I encountered that force, or being, or whatever it is that day. When that overwhelming love filled my being I sensed it. I simply knew it was there. Although I had visualizations of various aspects of what was happening, I did not really see anything. The visualization I had was of myself as a small child, perhaps two or three, at the feet of this being. I could more or less make out the outlines of the feet and ankles. And I could feel the love beaming down on me from where the face should be, somewhere above my head and it almost felt like sunshine shining down on me, except that as I said it totally penetrated me and shown straight through as if I were completely transparent.

And I wanted to look up at that face, but I could not. I knew, and I knew that this being knew, that I was wretched beyond belief. I looked at myself with total crystal clear honesty for the first time ever, and I was horrendous to behold. I had lied and stolen from everyone who had ever shown me kindness and love. I'd betrayed people to their very core. I had used and abused every human being that had crossed my path for years, decades even. I was pathetic. And I began to cry, not just cry. I wept as I had never wept before. I wailed, even. I thought maybe I should just die, maybe everyone would be better off if the ibogaine just killed me.

Then I felt as though God offered me death. I saw this place of filth and stink and rotten decay, and it was incredibly lonely and isolated, hopeless, and very sorrowful. And although I did not hear words, I experienced it as if I was told "If you want death, here it is. You can have it, just don't take another breath." And the conclusion was obvious to me at that point, I had to change. I had to re-evaluate my priorities. If I was to live, then my life had to be much, much different then it had been.

Some people claim not to understand this, but I had always had morals, I just couldn't live up to them. I hated what I did to get drugs. I hated the lying and the stealing, especially from my Mother. I felt like shit for it, but the drugs could cover that up. There is a sick cycle wherein you need to use drugs to cover the guilt you feel for doing the things you have to do in order to get drugs. I had lived in that cycle for a long time. But it was about to be broken.

I asked a few questions of that being that day and received a few answers I felt. I am probably just as unclear about the meaning of life and existence as ever, but I feel like one piece of understanding is in place. I don't know what God wants from me or expects of me. I simply have no idea. But I do feel I know a couple of important things. I believe that I know that that it is real. Did it make this universe, or come along with it? Who knows? But I also believe that I know that thing loves me, in fact all of us, immensely. Even when I was coming to very clear terms with the fact, the cold hard fact, that I was despicable, the love that I felt, never wavered at all.

Once I had started crying, I literally could not stop for 3 days. And I cried most of the 4th day as well. I may have slept 2 hours total in the first 3 days. After that I slept 2 or 3 hours a night for a week or so with it gradually increasing. After a week I started exercising by bike riding which I found very tiring at first. I had some slight chills that would come over me every 4 or 5 hours or so which lasted almost 6 months. But that was pretty much it. I had no other symptoms of withdrawal, and perhaps most importantly, no depression, in fact I felt good. I felt connected to that love for close to a year following this experience. Although it did eventually fade, at least my experience of feeling connected to it faded, I have found new ways of connecting to God now. The 4th day after taking the ibogaine I decided that it really had worked and poured the rest of my methadone take-homes down the drain. I was a free man!

-Matt S. (Bluelight)

Dr. Bruno Chaves has performed over 1200 treatments with ibogaine in hospital without a single adverse event. 62% of those treated remain abstinent long term. Dr. Chaves is currently accepting new patients for treatment in hospital in São Paulo, Brazil. For more information, contact Dr. Chaves directly at : [email protected] -pb
 
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CBD shows promise for treating stimulant addiction

by Kimberly Lawson | Jul 23 2019

New research suggests that CBD can benefit those addicted to cocaine and methamphetamine.

Currently, there are no pharmaceutical treatment options for people dependent on cocaine and meth. Between 2015 and 2019, however, scientists ramped up their investigations into how CBD may impact addiction to these stimulants. Researchers at the University of Valencia and University of Zaragoza in Spain reviewed the current literature and determined that some preliminary studies suggest CBD is “a promising candidate” for these stimulant abuse disorders, though more research is necessary.

“A limited number of preclinical studies indicate that CBD could have therapeutic properties on cocaine and METH addiction and some preliminary data suggest that CBD may be beneficial in cocaine-crack addiction in humans,” the study states. “CBD has shown promising results in reducing the inflammation and seizures induced by cocaine and in several preclinical models of addiction to amphetamine, cocaine and METH. Importantly, a brief treatment of CBD induces a long-lasting prevention of reinstatement of cocaine and METH seeking behaviours.”

The review, published last week in the journal Molecules, reveals how limited the current research is and highlights the need for more preclinical and clinical trials involving CBD and stimulant addiction.

“CBD has reversed toxicity and seizures induced by cocaine.”

Among the past research the authors reviewed, studies have found:

- Mice that were given CBD prior to consuming cocaine seemed to be better protected against acute liver inflammation and damage, as well as cocaine-induced seizures.

- Mice that received high doses of CBD were less motivated to continue self-administering cocaine and meth in order to maintain their pleasurable effects.

- When given CBD transdermally and over an extended period of time (versus a lower dose during a short-term treatment), rodents were less likely to relapse after being sober for 14 days.

- People addicted to crack cocaine used cannabis to help them deal with withdrawal symptoms such as craving, impulsivity and paranoia, while another observational study found no difference in craving among cocaine-dependent people who consumed cannabis and those who did not.

Currently, however, there is no clinical evidence that shows how CBD itself affects humans addicted to stimulants. Researchers did find one clinical trial currently in the works, but that study isn’t expected to be completed until December.

“While preliminary, there is some preclinical evidence showing that treatment with CBD might promote resilience to developing cocaine and METH use disorders and might prevent relapse into drug use after a period of abstinence,” the review authors wrote.

They also proposed a number of various mechanisms that may be at play. For example, the team theorized that CBD may block some of the rewarding effects the brain experiences when exposed to certain stimulants. They also pointed out that the therapeutic benefits of CBD may be the result of the way the compound interacts with various receptors, including those in the endocannabinoid system as well as serotonin receptors (which contribute to well-being).

Another possible reason for why the cannabis compound could prove to be effective against stimulant addiction, the review states, is its ability to minimize the cognitive and mental effects associated with substance abuse. For example, the results of one cited study found a “therapeutic potential (of CBD) to attenuate contextual memories associated with drugs of abuse and consequently to reduce the risk of relapse.” Other studies showed that CBD is effective for dealing with anxiety and stress disorders, which are associated with drug addiction.

“Observational studies suggest that CBD may reduce problems related with crack-cocaine addiction, such as withdrawal symptoms, craving, impulsivity and paranoia.”

How effective CBD may be for people dependent on cocaine and other stimulants may rely on a number of factors, the review’s authors write, including the dose, how often it’s taken and the type of substance a person is addicted to, among other things. Though “the effectiveness of CBD for treating addiction to psychostimulant drugs has not yet been proven,” researchers say it should be “a priority of research to demonstrate the usefulness of CBD” as a potential treatment option for people who misuse stimulants.

 
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I hadn't seen my addict father in years — then I ran into him on the street

by Jordan Foisy | VICE | Aug 12 2019

I spotted my dad hanging out in a sketchy alley in my hometown. He didn't even recognize me.

Two weeks ago, I was back in my hometown of Sault Ste. Marie in northern Ontario. I was there for a week that was bookended by two separate weddings of childhood friends. In between the nuptials I spent my time ambling around the recovering steel town, soaking in feelings of nostalgia and The National-style melancholy.

During one of these joint-assisted strolls, I was fantasizing about running into my dad, who still lives in the city. I hadn't seen him in three years. He has a coke problem. I was wondering what running into him would feel like and how it would go, when suddenly I turned a corner and there he was. My father. He was standing there in all his glum glory, smoking a bent cigarette. He looked anxious, as if he were ready to tell someone he doesn't have their money.

"Holy shit. Look at this guy," I called out to him, some casual vulgarity to stem a sudden onset of nerves. He glanced at me puzzled, not sure if it was him I was talking to.

"It's me, man."

He responded, "Look, buddy, I don't know you."

"Dad, it's me… Jordan."


I ran into my father for the first time in three years and he didn't recognize me.

During the past three years, Dad existed more as a rumour. Whenever I visited my hometown, friends would tell me about spotting him, ambling around the margins of Sault Ste. Marie like some sort of urban legend.

These tales would unleash a flood of guilt, regret, and relief in me. The official reason I told myself for not seeing my father was he was impossible to get a hold of. This was a lie. The real reason was that I didn't want to. It hurt too much. The pain of seeing my father continually erode into a pitiful figure—all missing teeth and rummy eyes, dressed in the discordant, used-clothing wardrobe of the perennially downtrodden—was too much.

I loved him, despite everything. My childhood and adolescence was spent being disappointed and attempting to navigate the distance between when he was the "good" dad I idolized and when he would spend days sleeping on the couch. This feeling of helplessness and loss would be matched with frustration. As the good son of an addict, properly trained in the impeccable art of pretending everything is fine even when it so clearly is not, I would fume at myself when I would see him, for my inability to point out that the elephant in the room was trampling the villagers to death.

I didn't want to talk to him because of how much I wanted to talk to him, how much I desired some sort of catharsis, some answers, some resolution. A lifetime of movies had left me with these fantasies of The Great Conversation: If I had enough courage, I could engage my dad in a way that would save him, and by saving him, save myself. It would end in great heaving sobs between the two of us, our arms wrapped around each other; him committing to getting clean and apologizing for all his misdeeds; and myself, born anew, filled with confidence, serenity, and, inexplicably, newfound athletic prowess.

For the past three years, I remained in this stasis: desiring some sort of confrontation and resolution but hindered by fear and the intractable patterns of my past. Then, all of a sudden, there he was.

He told me he was waiting to get picked up for a job. It was 5:30 p.m. but that's one of those observations I've learned to ignore. He asked me some questions about what I was up to, asked about my brothers. It was nice. We made plans to have lunch the next day. A sketchy old man came riding down the alley across the street on a bicycle. My dad said he had to talk to the old guy about supplies for the job. I don't think he had been waiting for a job.

The next day I was nervous. Was he going to show up? Did I want him to show up? He said he would pop by around lunchtime. When I asked what time that was, he responded, "I don't know... lunchtime." So, I was stuck in my mom's house while I waited to discover what time my rambling father thought was lunchtime like I was waiting for a cable guy that fixed childhoods.

There was a knock at the door at 12:30 p.m. My mom's Great Dane started barking wildly. Dad poked his head but said he was going to wait outside, that he had been bitten by a dog before and this one was making him nervous.

I didn't know that he had been bitten before. It would be the first of many stories we exchanged that afternoon. I told him about a friend of mine getting busted for having two pounds of weed and it inspired him. One after another, romantic stories of a debauched life came tumbling out of him. He described driving around without a licence because when he was a kid the fine was only $25; accidentally taking weed over the border and getting tossed in jail; hanging out with car thieves and mobster sons; getting into huge brawls on the beach; skinny-dipping and flirting with housewives on job sites. I was transfixed. He was a character in a Bruce Springsteen song.

We hung out for hours, had lunch on a patio, and tried to shoot a game of pool but the pool halls were closed so we had to settle for another patio and another beer. It was the most fun I could remember having with him. The conversation flowed. We talked politics, and as he complained bitterly about how rough it is for the working poor and about Donald Trump being a Nazi, I was reminded of where many of my beliefs came from (and was super relieved that he had no access to Facebook).

It was fun and easy because he was finally honest with me, not only about his past but about his addiction. It's not like there would be any way to hide it. My dad is truly a solid denizen of my hometown's underbelly. He is missing teeth and is garbed in clothes that look like a donations box sneezed on him. He currently resides in a motel that's The Florida Project but with less cute kids and more electric wheelchairs. He did bizarre cokehead moves. He had to cash a cheque so we stopped at the bank. He grabbed a free mint and then immediately smashed it on the ground. "I don't like to eat the whole mint at once," he nonchalantly explained to me.

None of this shocked or embarrassed me because he seemed comfortable in this life. He talked openly about this "coke thing" that he had, not to brag or excuse his actions, but to simply state reality. After spending a lifetime in the shadows of his mysteries and disappointments, constantly wondering why he did the things he did, I got to see the person I had spent a childhood chasing. It was the first time I wasn't held a silent hostage by the hopes for the man I wanted him to be or the lies of the man he pretended to be. It was him; strange and heartbreaking, but him. It was freeing for me.

Not that it was painless. He complained constantly about not being able to feel his toes and having a constant pain in his swollen stomach. When I implored him to see a doctor, he dismissed the suggestion, telling me, "I've had a good run."

I realized his honesty came from his sense of fatality. He's committed to his drugs, and letting them kill him. He doesn't want to get better because what kind of life is waiting for him on the other side? He's old as fuck and torn every relationship in his life asunder.

We have these big myths of addiction and sobriety, that getting clean is always a brand new start, that it's all it takes. Sometimes all it does it let you have clear-eyed view of how badly you fucked everything up and how there's nowhere else to go. If he doesn't want to see that, I can't really blame him. I'm sure I wouldn't, either.

He said he had a few regrets. He apologized for not always being there for my brothers and me. He wished my mom wasn't still mad at him. Most of all, he said he hated how the people closest to him could only see his addiction, that it outweighed everything else that he's done in his life. Now, admittedly, getting pity is every addict's superpower. But I couldn't help but think how I had avoided the hard work of reaching out and looking at him and justified it by cordoning him off as an addict, a failure.

I thought about the people I do that to constantly, those who I walk by in my day to day and brush off as I go from fancy patio to fancier patio. There was sadness in my dad's life but there was also community, a warmth that occurs when you're down at the bottom and forgotten about by everyone except those down there with you.

Maybe this is what forgiveness looks like. It's not an explosion of sobbing catharsis or a deathbed confession; It's an appraisal, an honest reckoning about what you've lost but also what you have. My dad's life is tragic but I also saw some beauty in it. He's lived outside the boundaries of respectable society his entire life, making the moneyed and mannered uncomfortable whether as a teenage miscreant or a senior citizen dirtbag. He did it by living according to his own code.

While we were hanging out, I watched him open numerous doors for people; we helped women unload boxes of diapers in a daycare centre; he complained about young addicts he knew who never wanted to work for their cash. He was funny, opinionated, hypocritical, charming, strange, and loving. He was my father and I'm so glad that, thanks to a simple twist of fate, I got a chance to finally meet him.

We made plans to have lunch again two days later. He never showed.

 
Last edited:

hyroller

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I think the plausibility of cocaine wreaking havoc on male and female brains differently has left this spectrum open for either one or both of the sexes.

honestly, sounds like the greatest thing on earth but can't possibly conform to that niche. not what you expect from the accounts of it's so-called superpowers. alas, still a class a drug among developed nations. but not one you can seriously stomach once you get your mind around child labour.
 

mr peabody

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The avalanche of cocaine hitting Europe

DER SPEIGEL | 28 Nov 2019

Drug syndicates are flooding Europe with very pure cocaine. Consumers need only send an encrypted text and a dealer will show up at their doorstep. And the authorities are all but powerless to stop them.

Cocaine. Coke. Charlie. An intoxicant for those with disposable income. A party drug. Not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Herzfelde, an otherwise sleepy town, population 1,750, in eastern Germany. The closest thing to nightlife here is a condom dispenser on Main Street.

If the raid earlier this year showed anything, it was how far-reaching cocaine's global supply chain has grown -- and how insatiable demand for the drug has become.

Never before has there been so much cocaine on the market in Germany, in Europe or around the world, investigators say. And the stuff that is available has never been purer. Some estimates put the average level of purity at 70 percent or higher.

It's never been easier to procure the drug, either. Consequently, more people are sniffing it. The question of what cocaine can do to a society already afflicted by a compulsive urge for self-improvement has never been more pressing.

In Lisbon, where the headquarters of the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction is located, there is talk of a "big boom." Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has also recorded a "dramatic increase" since 2016. One Interpol investigator says in his 14 years on the job, he's never experienced anything like this.

Things aren't likely to slow down anytime soon. "The global cocaine glut has yet to reach its peak," warns Kevin Scully, the chief drug hunter at the European headquarters of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. "Quantities will go up again compared to 2018," he says. That goes for Germany as well.

That kind of forecast doesn't require complicated math, just simple logic. In Colombia, the world's No. 1 producer of cocaine, the amount of land used for cultivating coca has skyrocketed, according to the United Nations. The same is true for Peru, No. 2, and Bolivia, No. 3.

And all that cocaine has to go somewhere. In Germany, demand for cocaine has "risen sharply," as Niema Movassat, the Left Party's drug policy spokesman in parliament, points out. What's more: There is hardly a business more worthwhile for criminals. In South America, a kilo of coke goes for $1,000 (906.50 euros). By the time it gets to dealers in Europe, they're paying $25,000 to get it across the Atlantic. On the street here, that same kilo can fetch as much as $70,000. There are few other areas of business that are more lucrative for criminals.

A well-oiled machine

The cocaine trade has become a well-oiled machine. It's almost as if the drug dealers had brought in professional business consultants to analyze their operations. Sure, there's still the usual violence, such as the recent murder of a lawyer in Amsterdam. But the industry has also grown more efficient. It relies on economies of scale and bulk purchases, precise divisions of labor and just-in-time supply chains. And, of course, it's constantly innovating -- on the lookout for the next, even more sophisticated smuggling method. In the end, the cartels can sit back and rely on the sheer power of the masses. The bigger the avalanche, the less important the things are that get in the way.

News reports of customs agents seizing multiple tons of cocaine in a single bust -- 4.5 tons in July in Hamburg, 1.5 tons a few days later -- are merely symbolic victories. In truth, investigators know little about the perpetrators or their operations.

What they do know is that the record amount of cocaine they found in 2018 was a reliable indication of the record amount of the drug they did not find. Interpol estimates that for all its efforts, 95 percent of shipments slip through undetected.

As the volume of cocaine flowing into Europe grows, so do the concerns of politicians, who have long lost sight of the drug problem, of investigators, who openly admit they are powerless, and of doctors, who know just how dangerous cocaine can be.

For this report, DER SPIEGEL and its partners at the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) network spoke to coca farmers in Colombia and consumers in Germany about the reasons behind and consequences of the boom. Documents provided insights into how large-scale drug dealers set up their billion-dollar, B2B-like businesses -- and how small-scale dealers organize their local, B2C operations, distributing product in baggies and tiny vials.

Joao Matias, an analyst with the EU's anti-drug agency, estimates that snorting cocaine will increasingly seem normal. People's inhibition thresholds will become lower and consumption will increase. The effect this will have on Germany cannot be known for another few years. "The effects of the cocaine glut are on the way," warns Karl Lauterbach, a health expert with Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD). But he can say this much: "Cocaine is cheaper, better and therefore much more dangerous than before. In the future, we can expect more deaths."




The consumers

Lisbon is a perfect microcosm of the cocaine trade. During the day, down near the Tagus River, the EU's drug officials pore over the numbers. Come closing time, cocaine can be purchased with ease higher up in the city, in the Bairro Alto bar district -- however much you want, wherever you want.

Europe's anti-drug officials work downtown in a modern office building made of glass and white stone. There, they attempt to understand and explain the cocaine wave. According to the statistics, some 3.9 million Europeans took cocaine in 2017. By last year, that number had jumped to 4 million. That's not a dramatic increase, but the trend is clear.

Just over 2 percent of young people between the ages of 15 and 34 -- the most susceptible age group when it comes to taking drugs -- snorted cocaine in 2017. On a country level, the figures varied slightly. Only 1.2 percent of German youths do coke, for instance. That's considerably less than in Holland (4.5 percent), Denmark (3.9 percent) or France (3.2 percent). At first glance, these figures seem to suggest cocaine is a major problem in other countries but not in Germany. But the German figure is from 2015, before consumption really took off.

One thing alarming EU officials across Europe are waste water samples. "Water doesn't lie," says Laurent Laniel, the anti-drug authority's chief analyst. Of the 38 countries that had their waste water tested in 2017 and 2018, 22 reported increases in traceable levels of cocaine, which enters the water through people's urine. In Berlin, those levels were almost twice as high in 2018 as they were in 2014. In Dortmund too. Spikes were recorded on weekends in particular.

The Berlin police say this is because more people are taking cocaine, but European drug officials aren't so sure. It could also be attributable to the same repeat offenders simply doing more drugs or the fact that the cocaine on the street today is more pure. But one thing is certain: No other drug puts more people in the hospital in Europe. In Berlin, cocaine has overtaken heroin as the drug with the highest death rate. In all of 2018, 35 people died from using cocaine. By the end of July 2019, that number had already hit 25.

'Everything under control'

Back in Bairro Alto, street dealers stand amid throngs of party tourists, tapping their noses and asking unabashedly, "Cocaine, cocaine?" One puts his arm around passers-by, introduces himself as "Pablo Escobar," and boasts about having "the best stuff in town." It's all very casual. A gram costs 50 to 60 euros and you can even test it because, as "Escobar" and the others promise, it's "no shit" that they're selling here.

Bairro Alto was where DER SPEIGEL ran into Lukas, a 27-year-old PhD student who uses an alias to cover up the fact that he does drugs.

He first took cocaine two years ago with some friends from college. Ever since, he has done it around 10 to 15 times a year, and only when there's something to celebrate: a birthday, their friendship -- sometimes just life in general. They do it when they want to feel prosperous and decadent. They only do 0.2 or 0.3 grams each, never more. Lukas describes his high: "You feel clear-headed. You know exactly what you need to say or do. You let it all out. You feel like you have everything under control."

Lukas says he has "no trouble keeping his cocaine consumption under control." He doesn't think he could ever become addicted. He's also aware that the drug doesn't actually make him smarter, that it only feels that way. He has everything under control, so he doesn't understand why cocaine is so much more stigmatized than alcohol or nicotine. "People get downright 'hysterical,' when they talk about cocaine," he says.

Lukas could be the kind of person who can use cocaine recreationally his entire life without becoming addicted. Or maybe not. A lot of a person's susceptibility to addiction has to do with their psyche. The phrase doctors use is "addictive personality."

Lukas might one day be 50-years-old and just fine. Or he might keel over and die. Heart attacks are one of the potential long-term effects of cocaine use. Unlike marijuana or hash, cocaine doesn't calm a person down. It pumps them up. It gets a person's heart racing and it attacks the heart and brain vessels.

Officially, only 93 people died in 2018 in Germany from cocaine use. Their deaths were seldom caused by an overdose but by a collapse of their cardiovascular system. In many cases, no one suspected it was cocaine use that had come back to haunt its victims so many years later.

'Everybody does it'

For experts like the drug critic Rainer Thomasius from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, this is what makes cocaine such a mixed bag: everyone can react to it differently. Thomasius says the drug has a "high potential for psychological dependence." For anyone who wants to escape their dreary everyday life and live in a world in which everything seems to be working for them, cocaine can be a seductive respite. It offers a soothing, get-me-out-of-here experience that a person could crave again, again and again.

Nevertheless, no more than 10 percent of people who do cocaine are considered hardcore users -- the ones who snort the drug more than 50 times a year. Most are recreational users, people who have lives, jobs or families. They are managers, politicians, professors, creatives. You wouldn't notice at first glance that they use cocaine. In fact, you wouldn't even notice at second glance. To be sure, you'd have to examine their nasal septum for holes.

That these people appear to have their cocaine use under control, and not vice versa, may also be due to the fact that cocaine is expensive. Many people can't afford it until they start making money. For some, this isn't until they're 20, maybe as late as 25. By that point, according to Thomasius, a person's personality is more fully developed and their risk of addiction is lower. And yet, time and again, there are new users who become delusional after doing coke for only a short amount of time. People who, after a few years, can't concentrate on anything except the next line of blow.




A life under the influence

It wouldn't take much for Florian, a student from Berlin, to become one of these lost souls. Florian isn't his real name, but he did begin taking drugs when he was 20 and got sucked in by the club scene in Berlin, where dealers often stand in front of the bathroom stalls. For three years, Florian was an intense coke user. Today, he realizes his habit isn't sustainable. Not unless he wants to become a junkie.

"This stuff makes me more self-confident the more I take. I can make me start acting pretty smug," he says. Once he was sitting with friends at a bar in Hamburg. The next table over was occupied by several Englishmen who wanted to talk. Florian kept giving them the runaround and felt better about himself with every rude remark.

"I enjoyed making a show of my arrogance. I was this cool guy who did the cool drug. And I increasingly acted this way even when I wasn't high," Florian says. He was impatient, aloof, contemptuous. "I could hardly stand my own friends sometimes. And strangers? Forget it."

Similar to Lukas, Florian considered himself to be a "fairly circumspect consumer" too at first. Then he noticed how his life gradually began to revolve more and more around cocaine. He remembers the time he was at a family get-together, sitting at a table outside with good food, drinks, good company, a nice atmosphere, "and then I caught myself thinking how nice a line of coke would be right now."

Florian hates the moments in which cocaine takes control of his thoughts and won't let go. He wants to take back control. He's only done coke once since January, he says. But quitting altogether? Why should he? Half the people in his philosophy department do cocaine, he says. Then there's his friend who works in a cafe and says he wouldn't be able to stand in the kitchen so long without a line every now and then. And the mother of one of his friends, who works at a casting agency. And an acquaintance of his father's, a businessman. There's even the young woman who he recently met while playing ping-pong and who seemed so inconspicuous -- even she does coke. Everyone does it, Florian says, and the quality is good. Plus, it's easy to get.

The producers

Colombia is the country where cocaine's global journey begins. From the fields of the province Putumayo, to the clubs of New York, Moscow and Berlin. Overlooking a coca plantation, on a wide porch he built just a few months ago, sits a man with a goatee and a brimmed cap. His name is Sneider, at least that's what everybody calls him. He gazes onto five hectares of green, chest-high coca shrubs. They are his pride and joy, his source of income, his life.

Sneider cleared the area himself. It was hard work not made any easier by the heat and humidity of the jungle. That's why he can hardly believe someone would ask him in all seriousness: Why don't you grow potatoes? Or coffee? Corn? Rice? Anything but coca. You might as well ask Sneider if he wants to hold his breath for 15 minutes to save the world's climate.

"Of course, I have to grow coca here," he says. "It's the only thing that fetches enough money." It takes him between six and seven hours by boat to bring his harvest to the next large town. With potatoes or corn, he would barely make back the money he spends on fuel. And if he makes coca paste, he doesn't even have to leave home. The buyers come to him.


FARC rebels purchasing coca leaves from Colombian farmers.

Sneider looks down a small embankment leading to the river, his only connection to the outside world. Way out here there is no electricity, no phones, no sewage system, no doctor. But also no police, no judges -- strictly speaking, no law. It's Colombia's age-old problem. There's simply too much land for too little government. For Sneider, the coke farmer, this is less of a problem than a solution.

Left-wing FARC guerillas have taken over control of the area again. Whether it's the FARC or the mafia, they all live from cocaine, more or less. For a while, it was less. The government was at war with FARC and since the mid-90s, it sent not only soldiers but also airplanes armed with the plant-killer glyphosate. They figured no coca meant no money. And if there was no money, there could be no guns. Of the 163,000 hectares of coca fields in 2000, only 48,000 were left by 2013.

More land than the government can handle

Then came the peace negotiations, and peace was good for men like Sneider. For one, it no longer rained glyphosat. And after the FARC rebels came the drug gangs, financed by the cartels in Mexico with their ravenous hunger for expansion. A Western intelligence service estimates there are 209,000 hectares of coca fields in Colombia today. "The total area under cultivation has exploded," it says.

Almost 70 percent of the world's cocaine stems from the fields of Colombia. The rest comes from Bolivia and Peru -- two more countries with more land than their governments can handle. A German investigator with the BKA had this to say about Bolivia in an April report that was supposed to remain confidential: "Cocaine combatance is no longer taking place on a notable scale. There is hardly a shred of political will." The rest was bitingly sarcastic: "The statistics with which Bolivia counters any criticism from abroad are not worth the exceedingly patient paper they are printed on."



From the jungles of the major cocaine producers, the drug is transported to the coasts of South America, mostly to the container ports in the east. "Brazil is pushing forward to dizzying heights," the BKA report states, going on to claim that Brazil has been the main hub for shipping cocaine to Europe since 2013. Along the supply route lies a country that doesn't even bother to feign a hypocritical political will in the fight against drugs: Venezuela. Since the U.S. oil embargo was imposed, which removed the main lubricant for the country's economy -- and the corrupt government of the populist Nicolas Maduro -- cocaine has become increasingly important as a substitute.

"Our investigations have shown that both members of the government and high-ranking military personnel are involved in drug trafficking," one U.S. drug hunter says of Venezuela. The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, more commonly known as Europol, has made a similar observation: "More and more cocaine is flowing through Venezuela to Europe." International drug gangs ensure unhindered passage across the Atlantic.


The Port of Antwerp, where an estimated 95 percent of cocaine shipments make it through.

The big dealers

When a police SWAT team smashed in the door to a house at 4 a.m. on Dec. 5, 2018, Gioacchino R., Gino for short, didn't seem particularly fazed. It was not his first encounter with the law. "Mr. R. seemed very calm and said he was familiar with the procedure from a former life," the state criminal police office later noted. Gino R., a resident of the western German city of Solingen, hailed from Palermo in Sicily, Italy. He allegedly had family ties to the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta mafia and a litany of previous convictions back home for drugs, fraud and assault against motorists on the highway. He owed the most recent early morning house call by the police to his alleged role in a cocaine gang.

R.'s was not one of the street gangs slinging coke one gram at a time, but the kind of major dealer that rarely gets ensnared in investigators' nets. The kind that has its own people in South America and its own container transports to Europe. There were 84 arrests on that December day in 2018; 47 of the accused were in Germany alone. The sting, "Operation Pollino," was named after a mountain in Calabria. It offered rare insights into this otherwise opaque, large-scale business.

The public prosecutor's files reveal that for years, Gino R. had adopted the camouflage of a nobody. He came to Germany, lived with a relative in Lüdenscheid, helped out in a restaurant in Düsseldorf and earned less than 1,200 euros a month. Later, he worked on construction sites and his girlfriend had to work as a cleaner so that the two would have enough money to last them until the end of the month. It was a life lived on the edge, like so many others.

But one thing did stand out to investigators. They wondered why a man devoid of any other notable qualities would act so "extremely conspiratorially." And another thing didn't seem to fit the bill: Gino R. had co-founded a company in January 2015 that ostensibly imported charcoal from Colombia and wood from Guyana. Reddish wood of the wamara variety, hardly in demand in Western Europe and practically unsellable. Why would a man with no money, no command of German and no knowledge of specialty timber -- or business in general for that matter -- pack something like this into an overseas container headed to Europe?

Increasingly brazen smugglers

More money is made with cocaine than with any other drug -- 300 billion euros worldwide, according to German intelligence officials. Europe is the second-largest market after North America. A quarter of the world's cocaine users live in Europe, the UN estimates. And where the demand is, the supply must follow. The authorities have seized quantities of the drug on sailing yachts, speedboats and fishing boats. Recently, a private jet with 600 kilos of coke onboard flew from Uruguay to Nice, France, and on to to Basel, Switzerland. Premium shipping. On the lower end of the market, couriers hide the drug in condoms, which they swallow, and stuff it under wigs. They even conceal it in breast implants.

The preferred route to Europe, however, has long been the overseas container. One of the greatest seizures of all time -- 19 tons of blow confiscated in June -- was distributed between multiple containers onboard a freighter in Philadelphia. From there, the containers were supposed to head to Rotterdam. Thousands of containers like this can fit onto a single ship. Millions of them criss-cross the oceans. Each has enough room to hide a few hundred million dollars worth of cocaine, depending on how full the gangs pack the containers and how much they stretch the goods later.

Whereas drug gangs used to go to the trouble of concealing their product in things like pineapples, today they simply stow it in sports bags or boxes. In South America, they break into an already loaded container and toss in the cocaine. Accomplices in Europe will then retrieve it, usually while the container is still in the port. Investigators refer to this method as, "rip-on, rip-off." The companies that dispatched the container generally have no knowledge of what goes on.

Of course, this did not apply to Gino R. and his company. The fact that police busted in his door at 4 a.m. had to do with Giuseppe T., a mafia boss in Italy. The man with the nickname "Principale," or boss, was afraid of being liquidated by other mafiosi. In July 2015, he went to the police and told them everything, including about Gino's small company in western Germany and the 'Ndrangheta's larger operations in Colombia.

During the last coke wave, drug barons like Pablo Escobar and the Ochoa brothers from Colombia dominated the supply chain to North America and Europe. Now the mafia and other European gangs have their own leaders in South America. According to Interpol, Albanians in particular are the new big players in the coke business.

"The groups in Europe want to get their stuff directly from the producers, so that they save on transport and get a bigger piece of the value chain," explains Interpol investigator Andres Bastidas. Sales representatives collect the money of the mafia families or dealer rings at home, put together a shopping list and buy in bulk overseas for everyone. The goods are divvied up later in Europe. The "Principale" said he had already scraped together 2 million euros to procure cocaine, including his own money and that of other mafia figures.

Charcoal, wood, then coke

The Colombians, for their part, have highly specialized gangs that handle coke cultivation, the drug laboratories and transportation to the coast. They, too, have joined forces and formed cooperatives. "This explains why cocaine is always found by the tons today," says Interpol's Bastidas.

The first container of Gino R.'s arrived in Hamburg in early 2015. It contained 640 bags of charcoal emblazoned with the words, "Best Quality." Customs checked the goods and gave the green light. R., for his part, apparently didn't care much about his imported coal. By 2017, those same bags were still lying unsold in front of a warehouse in Hürth. The next container, which arrived in Antwerp in October 2015, had wood inside. This time, the freight was abandoned in Schwalmtal.

This came as no surprise to investigators. These were trial deliveries to see whether the containers would make it through customs and to lull the authorities into a false sense of trust. New companies are regarded as suspicious. The more clean deliveries one has, the less likely future shipments will be searched.

The container with the cocaine arrived in Rotterdam on Dec. 6, 2015, and was inspected. Customs officers found five boxes, a sports bag and a Samsonite suitcase lying on a stack of boards in the back. Sniffer dogs and a forensics test confirmed: cocaine. There were 82.3 kilos with 80 percent purity. This wouldn't pass for a large delivery nowadays, but investigators believe R. and his group intended to eventually smuggle 1.2 tons of the drug to Europe -- at least according to documents in the investigation.

At first, narcotics officials in the Netherlands still assumed the company's founder, Gino R., had nothing to do with the shipment. But by May 2017, when someone using the name, "Toto," called R. on the phone to order 10 "bread rolls," the police believed Gino to be part of the gang. R.'s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment by DER SPIEGEL. The public prosecutor's office intends to file charges within a few weeks.

The small dealers

Florian, the student from Berlin, will never cross paths with dealers in the same league as Gino or Giuseppe. His contacts are at the end of the chain, the guys on the street delivering the "bread rolls." They often deliver via "taxi," as the courier services are known that take orders over the phone and send a driver with the goods within a half hour. A quick drive around the block and the driver asks, "All good, man?" Florian replies, "Yeah, I'm good." Then 50 euros changes hands, and in return Florian receives a tiny plastic vial filled with 0.7 grams of cocaine. "See you next time."

Most of the time, Florian says, the drivers are young and, he assumes, Turkish or Arab rather than Italian. But that's not the kind of thing you ask. "They are incredibly polite, probably because the competition is so fierce," Florian believes. "There is an unbelievable amount of 'taxis' in Berlin. Some friend always has a new number you haven't tried out yet."

By now, the Berlin police have become aware of this fact as well. They have bundled their investigations into drug taxis in a special police department. There are 35 ongoing investigations. The Berlin police's chief drug officer estimates that some "taxi switchboards" handle more than 100 requests a day.

Some even offer their customers discounts to gain an edge over the competition. One text message reads, "Hey, it's me, Toni. I've got some great beer on offer again. Buy four, get one free." Buy four vials of coke, get the fifth one free. And while drug deals used to take place in small, isolated circles, the EU anti-drug authority has observed a "new quality in cocaine trafficking, because social media is used relatively often to advertise cocaine." On the rampant marketplaces on the darknet, customers can rate coke sellers and their product like they would on Google or eBay.

The coke taxi from Herzfelde wasn't as well-established as its competitors, but Rene F. and his family had only just begun. They began selling in September 2018. They got their product, according to prosecutors, from a man believed to be a member of the Rammos clan, an Arab criminal syndicate in Berlin. The fact that the source of the cocaine was so well known to investigators may have explained why police placed Rene F. and his family under observation from the very beginning.

Before becoming a drug dealer, Rene F., like his wife, lived on welfare. Their son was learning to be a car salesman. According to investigators, none had any previous experience in the drug trade. The fact that such amateurs started their nascent careers with cocaine -- the most expensive of all drugs -- says something about the availability and the demand of the substance. In March, their brief stint as drug dealers came to a swift end. Rene was sentenced to four years and three months. The others were given probation. All pleaded guilty.


An X-ray of a container passing through the Port of Hamburg.

The investigators

So was it a victory for investigators to celebrate? Not by a long mile, some say. In the port city of Antwerp, Belgium, they even have a joke for how little headway investigators are making: Did you hear? They found some bananas packed in cocaine crates at the harbor yesterday.

It's a corny attempt at humor, but it says a lot about the situation in Antwerp. The fight against coke is lost, everyone says, whether at the EU in Lisbon or in Antwerp itself. Antwerp is lost.

Though a lot of drugs enter Europe via Africa and Spain, the Belgian port city is considered Europe's main coke hub. It even surpasses Rotterdam and Hamburg. Of the 150 tons of cocaine confiscated in Europe in 2018, 51 were seized by investigators in Antwerp. This year, that figure had already risen to 42 tons -- by the end of October. Any investigator who isn't kidding him- or herself knows this can only mean one thing: Nowhere do the gangs try to smuggle their drugs into Europe more often, and nowhere do they succeed so easily.

The port the smugglers love so much is the largest in the world in terms of surface area. It covers 120 square kilometers and it is designed to process containers as quickly as possible. Some 7 million of them pass through Antwerp every year. Nothing is permitted to tarnish the port's appeal to the rest of the world. Speed, investigators say, is even more important than safety. And a police task force with 40 officials can't do much to change the situation. "Everything in the port that is good for the economy also benefits the criminal gangs," says Manolo Tersago, the task force's ranking officer. Asked what he would need to make a bigger difference, his answer is simple: "more personnel as quickly as possible." He simply doesn't have the resources to search for drugs, money or the people pulling the strings.

"For years, the port has been infiltrated by cartels from Albania and Morocco," laments one narcotics officer. As early as 2017, a confidential report by the Antwerp police described the port as an enclave over which the state had relinquished control to the drug mafia. "They don't shy away from anything," not even making death threats against police officers, chief investigator Tersago says.

Bribing port workers

But things don't even need to escalate that far. The gangs earn so much money "they can buy anyone they want," Tersago says. And they do. Around 60,000 people work directly in the port. The gangs even send recruiters to cafes and gyms. They're always on the lookout for people who can help them get the product out of the containers. Hauling a steel box to a remote location for a couple of hours costs a container stacker mere minutes, but according to Tersago's estimates, it can earn him between 25,000 and 75,000 euros.



The jackpot for gangs is bribing a so-called selector, the customs officer who decides whether a container that has just been unloaded is searched or waved through. A man used to work in the Port of Rotterdam who earned 250,000 euros for every 100 kilos of coke he let slip through. But that was just one side of the coin. After the man was arrested in 2015, he said, "They knew everything about me, even where my children went to school."

A bribed customs officer -- what could be better for crime syndicates? In fact, business isn't all that much worse without them. Without a tip of where to look, investigators can easily get lost in the depths of a ship's holds. Late last September, three customs officers climbed into the belly of a 300 meter-long container ship in Hamburg. They had to use a 30-millimeter percussion drill to loosen 20 bolts to open the hatch to the ballast tank. Five minutes later, they closed it. And that was just one hatch.

The ship had hundreds of hatches like this. Thousands of hollow spaces. And that's in addition to the 14,000 containers when the ship is fully loaded. A few hundred of these ships arrive and unload their cargo every year. The port's annual capacity is 5.4 million containers. If one of them is up on the loading deck, in the second row from the top, boxed in by several other containers, how are customs officials supposed to get at it? "We often don't," a customs official admits.

They could, of course, have it unloaded. Like in all large ports, computer programs flag suspicious containers. They check whether the containers are from South America, what they allegedly contain and which company is importing them to Europe. Customs officials could have a container transported to an X-ray facility, which can process a good 100 units a day. But that takes time, and if nothing is found, as is usually the case, the question arises as to whether it was worth the trouble. The port of Hamburg, too, places a high value on speed.

"You have to be able to lose in this job," the customs officer says. The fact that they made the biggest find of all time in Germany last summer -- 4.5 tons -- certainly raised morale. They used to celebrate when they seized 20 kilos of coke. But did anything happen to the market because 4.5 tons of product didn't materialize? Have prices risen because there is less supply? Not even close.

"Despite record quantities seized, there has been no perceivable change in perpetrators' behavior," the BKA wrote in April. "This only leads to one conclusion, that the pain threshold has not yet been reached." Günther Losse, the head of the Hamburg customs unit, says, "We suspect that the lion's share gets through." The BKA confirms: "This would mean that enormous quantities of cocaine must make it onto the European market." Investigators unanimously agree.

No good solutions

"Many narcotics officials have little hope of winning the fight," says the head of customs in Hamburg, Rene Matschke. "We never stumble upon fixed structures and therefore don't know who's doing the importing. We rarely get close to the bosses." Interpol's Andres Bastidas says, "It has become much harder to catch the big fish." Peter Keller, the chief drug investigator at the customs office in Cologne, says, "There's too much coke on the market and we can only find the tip of the iceberg."

Politicians are also to blame for the seemingly hopeless situation. The German Customs Investigation Bureau says they "aren't terribly interested anymore" in drug smuggling. Europol says the same thing: Drugs have "long disappeared from the agenda." In Antwerp, for instance, police officers were withdrawn from the port after the attacks in Brussels in order to hunt down terrorists. At customs in Hamburg, more than 10 percent of ship inspection jobs are unfilled. The search for undeclared workers seems to be a higher priority.

In its search for answers, DER SPIEGEL approached Daniela Ludwig, Germany's federal drugs commissioner. She sees the root of the problem far away, in Colombia. She has nothing to say about Germany. Karl Lauterbach, the SPD's health expert, is at least willing to accept the criticism: "Investigators simply lack the means. The subject of drugs has not received the attention it deserves."

This has prompted the Green Party's domestic policy spokeswoman, Irene Mihalic, to call for more money to be allocated not only to police, but also to education and therapy. Movassat, the Left Party's drug policy spokesman, proposes a much more radical solution: He's for decriminalization and a government-controlled cocaine trade -- a regulated levy. He says "it's the only way to chip away at the narcos' global power and dry up their billion-dollar business."

That would be the most radical solution. And the most desperate. The fight against cocaine seems long lost, whether in the fields of Colombia, the ports of Europe or the streets of Berlin. The avalanche is here. What can possibly stop it now?

 
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mr peabody

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How do I know if ibogaine is right for my addiction detox?

The first and most important requirement is that you have to be 100% ready to be done with drugs, that you are mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically ready to fully surrender yourself and accept plant medicine healing in your life. You have to know what you want and mean it. Ibogaine will work for you only if you are ready.

If you are not ready to take full responsibility over your life and choices, then ibogaine treatment is not for you.

The second requirement is you have to do this for yourself, not your loved ones, friend or family member. If a loved one is pushing you into treatment or your family has done an intervention but you are not quite ready, you need to wait until you are doing the program for yourself.

The third requirement is that you understand that ibogaine is not a cure for addiction. Instead, it merely interrupts addition. You have to prepare yourself to let go of old patterns, behaviors, and environmental and social factors that have led you to your addiction. If you come into ibogaine treatment expecting that ibogaine will do all the hard work for you, then your sobriety will only be temporary.

You will have to take what you learn during your treatment program and apply it to life once you get home. You will go through an adjustment period afterwards, and that requires making the right decisions and taking action.

At the heart of all addictions, it first began on a spiritual and emotional level. This is also why many rehabilitation programs such as the twelve-step program are unsuccessful in the long term because traditional detox therapies only work to heal the physical level, where the current rate of success is about 1% - 7%. Too many people who have been through these expensive and ineffective programs end up with a sense of despair, and even a sense of personal failure. Most rehabilitation centers and western society in general, are not aware that humans exist in 3 worlds: physical, mental and spiritual. While there are on-going support groups for addicts trying to kick their habit, symptoms of withdrawal can be so overwhelming that attempts to discontinue the drug often end in failure.

Physically ibogaine works to relieve symptoms of withdrawal. Patients who have used ibogaine to treat drug addiction report a complete absence of physical symptoms once treatment is over. Ibogaine works by resetting neurotransmitters in the brain. It also works as a psycho-spiritual tool that helps the patient look deeply into their past to find the root problem of their addiction. Addicts are usually victims of deep emotional traumas who are seeking to find an escape of this through their drug of choice. The key to breaking your addiction is understanding this:

Ibogaine takes you on a deep introspective psychological journey that allows you to forgive others who have hurt you as well as forgive yourself for things you have done that you regret and continue to carry with you.

Ibogaine therapy can provide individuals with critical insights into the origins of their addiction. This is the key to full recovery: digging up and reviewing the roots of addiction. These profound realizations contribute to full recovery and a deep new found appreciation for ones life. Once the iboga has broken your addiction, the next step is to rebuild the body and mind with nutritional medicine and supplements. It is this extra step that can increase the chances of a lifelong recovery from addiction. While ibogaine is not successful 100% of the time, estimates from various clinics range between 60% to 70% in terms of the number of people who successfully use iboga to get off drugs permanently, which, let's face it, is amazing.

Ibogaine is the ONLY substance known to alleviate or eliminate the withdrawal symptoms associated with cocaine and/or crack addiction.

For those people who take ibogaine but return to the same environment they abused stimulents, there is a 90 percent relapse rate.


The difference between success or failure will depend on whether you are

1. Committed to the process of recovery
2. Committed to removing yourself from your previous environment

Dr. Bruno Chaves has performed over 1200 treatments with ibogaine in hospital without a single adverse event. 62% of those treated remain abstinent long term. Dr. Chaves is currently accepting new patients for treatment in hospital in São Paulo, Brazil. For more information, contact Dr. Chaves directly at : [email protected] -pb
 
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mr peabody

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Iboga appeared to me as a black man, an African warrior, and he said he was there to help me. I immediately began thinking about my father, as I have much childhood trauma associated with him. Iboga clapped his hands, and my dad appeared. He looked drunk and had an aggressive, angry expression on his face, with his fists in the air like he was about to beat me. Suddenly, Iboga clapped his hands again, and instantly my father was transformed into a scared little boy, around age eleven, crying about being beaten by his grandfather (his primary caregiver during his childhood). Then I felt the massive resentment I held towards my father uprooted out of me by Iboga.

Next, came my mother. Iboga did something very different this time: he transformed me into my mother, and suddenly I felt all the pain and suffering that I had caused her during my addiction through lying, stealing, manipulating. This vision humbled me to a level I had never felt before, and since then, I cannot bring myself to lie to her without bawling my eyes out, precisely because I was her and I felt all the pain I had caused her. Iboga allowed me to forgive myself for the pain I caused the woman who loved me more than anyone else in the world, but he emphasized that I must never again cause her that type of pain.

I remember my hallucinations. I saw shamans in my closed eye visuals, and a jaguar just staring into my eyes. The worst part was when I saw my mom crying. When I would use drugs, my mom would cry sometimes, but when I was high I didn't care. When I saw my mom crying, I felt so shitty, like I owe her for all her happiness that was lost.

I laid there and I had deep locked thoughts from my childhood, flashbacks of all the negative experiences I had, and realized exactly why I used drugs to begin with. I did also see open eye visuals. There was one moment where I saw a pair of non-human eyes floating above, then all of a sudden a long tongue dropped to my bed where the eyes were, this hallucination was very shocking. It was like the same shock experienced when you hear a loud and unexpected sound. Ibogaine had a lot of those moments. Ibogaine is like a stern teacher or parent teaching you a lesson, it is not fun and games. Towards the end, I felt very peaceful.

I was at peace with everything. I accepted my fate..., that I had died trying to save myself from a lifetime of misery, as well as everyone around me. The ibogaine was working a miracle and saving my life. It totally cleansed my body from every toxin I had put in it for 20 years. It defragmented my brain and allowed me to reboot. I was laying there like a dead man, and all of a sudden the power came back on.


https://thethirdwave.co/ibogaine-treatment/
 
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mr peabody

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Single ketamine infusion shows promise in treating cocaine addiction*

by Eric Dolan | PsyPost | Aug 21 2019

A single infusion of ketamine combined with mindfulness-based addiction treatment shows promise in the treatment of cocaine dependence, according to a new clinical trial published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

Ketamine, an anesthetic also known by its party drug name Special K, has been shown to produce rapid and lasting improvements in patients with treatment-resistant major depression. In March of this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a nasal spray formulation of ketamine — called esketamine.

The researchers were interested in whether ketamine could enhance the effectiveness of mindfulness-based relapse prevention therapy (MBRP) for cocaine addiction.

“Interestingly, mindfulness practices are thought to provide benefit via neural mechanisms similar to those attributed to subanesthetic ketamine, including the regulation of mesolimbic functioning, the promotion of prefrontal neural plasticity and synaptogenesis, and sustained modulation of default-mode network hyperconnectivity,” the researchers explained.

In the study, 55 individuals seeking treatment for cocaine dependence were randomly assigned to receive either an intravenous infusion of ketamine or of the sedative midazolam. The participants then completed about 5 weeks of mindfulness-based relapse prevention therapy.

The researchers found that participants who received ketamine tended to have a lower likelihood of cocaine use and lower levels of cocaine craving. About half of the participants who received ketamine maintained abstinence over the last 2 weeks of therapy, compared to about 10% who received midazolam.

During a 6-month follow-up, 44% of the participants in the ketamine group reported that they were abstinent, while none of the participants who received midazolam reported abstinence.

“Ketamine was effective at providing individuals already engaged in mindfulness-based behavioral modification with significantly greater odds of maintaining abstinence, substantial protection from relapse and craving, and lower likelihood of cocaine use. These sustained benefits, in some cases lasting several months, suggest the potential of ketamine for effecting long-term behavioral changes,” the researchers wrote in their study.

But like all research, the study includes some limitations. For instance, the researchers did not compare the effects of ketamine alone to the effects of ketamine combined with mindfulness-based relapse prevention.

“It is conceivable, although unlikely based on previous work, that ketamine might have led to these results in the absence of any behavioral treatment,” the researchers said. They hope additional research will replicate the findings in a larger study.

*From the article here:

 
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