America has never been more addicted. The rampant use of heroin, prescription painkillers, crystal meth, cocaine, and alcohol has swept the countryside – from Los Angeles to New York and everywhere in between.
In 2017, fatal overdoses claimed the lives of 70,237 people. Once the death toll is tallied for 2018, we are sure to see a significant increase in this number. Some say desperate times call for desperate measures. As the number of overdose deaths continues to skyrocket, more and more addicted people are seeking alternative methods to substance use disorder treatment. This includes the use of ibogaine.
In the wake of the opioid epidemic, there has never been a greater need for effective substance use disorder treatment. We have become especially vulnerable to companies looking to cash in on desperation, promising a quick fix to the complicated problem of addiction. This is especially true of ibogaine treatment centers.
If you’re thinking about undergoing ibogaine treatment, we hope this article will change your mind.
What is Ibogaine?
Ibogaine is a psychedelic substance derived from the iboga tree, which is a native plant of Africa. This hallucinogen has been used in tribal cultures for thousands of years in religious ceremonies. In the last 100 years, the use of this plant has significantly increased in the West – specifically to treat substance use disorders and for recreational use.
There is little research available to show that ibogaine treatment is an effective way to treat drug or alcohol addiction. Nevertheless, people across the United States are flocking to countries like Mexico and Canada for a week-long stay at an ibogaine treatment center. The hope is that their addiction will be “cured” and they can move forward with their lives.
We understand why addicted people and their families are willing to shell out $10,000 or more in cash to take a chance that the stuff might work. After all, addiction is a devastating illness and the addicted person is searching for an end to suffering. However, we strongly discourage people from taking a gamble on ibogaine treatment. It’s just not worth it – and we will tell you why.
Buyer Beware: Ibogaine Treatment Centers Want Your Business
Ibogaine can cause death – which is why it is illegal in the U.S. There have been 19 known deaths from ibogaine treatment in the United States, although some suggest there have been many more that were undocumented.
However, ibogaine is unregulated and available in many other countries. These countries spend big bucks to market to addicted people in the United States, making lofty promises to Americans.
Ibogaine information is readily available on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook. Google and other major advertisers (like Facebook) have banned ibogaine ads because they know the stuff is dangerous. Nevertheless, ibogaine peddlers have found clever ways to get around the rules by posting articles, blogs, videos, and images.
This has sparked a national conversation about this hallucinogen and its ability to cure the disease of addiction.
Is Ibogaine a Cure for Addiction?
So-called ibogaine treatment centers promote this psychedelic medicine as a cure for addiction, telling potential clients that just one session can set them free from the cycle of addiction forever.
If this were true, American scientists would absolutely incorporate the use of this plant in U.S. addiction treatment centers. Some are working on it as we speak. As of yet, though, there have been no significant breakthroughs. Medical experts still agree that ibogaine is dangerous and not fit for human consumption.
Furthermore, as we mentioned, the research is simply not there to validate the effectiveness of ibogaine treatment. Some researchers suggest that this substance shows promise for treating opioid addiction, but modern medicine has a long way to go when it comes to safely administer this substance.
Substance use disorder treatment should always involve safety and minimal risks. This is not the case with ibogaine treatment.
What Happens During an Ibogaine Treatment?
You could say that the typical ibogaine treatment center offers a $10,000 psychedelic drug trip. Clients are usually promised five-star luxury accommodations, although most who travel to Mexico report they were not impressed with their lodging or amenities.
Early in the week, participants should be given a complete medical evaluation to determine if the client has any heart problems, which will greatly increase the likelihood of death.
Once the client is cleared for the treatment, they should be taken to a hospital, where they are attached to machines to monitor heart rate and other functions during their treatment. The client is administered the drug through an IV.
Then, for the next eight to 12 hours, the participant will stay in a relaxed environment and essentially go on a hallucinogenic trip. The idea is that participants will undergo a journey through the mind and resolve past traumas and circumstances that caused the addiction in the first place.
However, many who have taken ibogaine say that they barely felt anything at all and had to suffer through a loud, obnoxious buzzing sound in their ears for hours. This is a side effect of the drug.
Is An Ibogaine Treatment Safe?
One of the many dangers of going to another country for ibogaine treatment is that many centers skip vital steps in the process and administer the drug at their facility without medical oversight. (No doubt to save money and increase profits.) You should NEVER take this hallucinogen without a complete physical and approval from a doctor.
Of course, this begs the question: can you really trust doctors in other countries who have contracts with ibogaine centers? They rent space in their hospital to these facilities to clients have a safe place to undergo treatment. It seems like a real conflict of interest.
Does Ibogaine Treat Addiction?
Those in the ibogaine treatment industry swear that ibogaine effectively “resets” the brain to its pre-addicted state. They assert that one treatment can restore the brain of an addicted person to the neurobiological makeup that existed before they ever took a drug or a drink.
This is simply not possible. It sounds good. We wish it were true – we really do. Imagine the lives that could be saved! The families that could heal! And the beautiful world we could all live in! Spending the money and taking the risk would absolutely be worth it. Heck, we would probably offer it here at New Directions for Women!
Does Ibogaine Treat Opioid Withdrawal?
Ibogaine treatment centers tell clients that ibogaine effectively short-circuits the withdrawal process. They say clients do not need to undergo detox to get off dangerous drugs like heroin or prescription opioids because the drug eliminates painful withdrawal symptoms.
Opioid withdrawal is extremely dangerous and should almost always be managed with a medical detox. To suggest otherwise is irresponsible.
What Happens After an Ibogaine Treatment?
Because ibogaine centers promise clients that treatment will cure their addiction, most do not offer anything beyond the seven-day stay. They may propose a relapse prevention plan, but it is shoddy at best.
Clients feel good after the treatment and they have high hopes that they will return home and stay sober. This “pink cloud” effect may last for several months, but inevitably, ibogaine clients do not have the skills necessary to stay sober in the face of stress, uncomfortable life events, or triggers.
Ultimately, the majority of those who go for ibogaine treatment end up relapsing. Defeated, they believe they have failed. In reality, they bought into the hype of this hallucinogenic “medicine” and wasted their time and energy on something that failed THEM. This is easy to do, of course. When you are addicted, you are desperate. It is easy to fall prey to people promising a cure.
Some Final Thoughts on Ibogaine Treatment
We understand there is a mixed press when it comes to ibogaine. There are some positive testimonials out there, sure. But, the cold hard truth this that an ibogaine treatment can kill you. And, if it doesn’t, you will soon find that you need a lot more support to stay sober than you thought you did. In any case, we understand that individuals and families need help in the face of addiction. That’s why we are here.
If you or someone you love has a substance disorder, we stand ready to offer a proven program of recovery. At New Directions for Women, we have been helping women get sober for more than 40 years at our nonprofit private rehab. We only implement evidence-based treatment methodologies to address all aspects of the recovering person.