So many different substances have been used in the treatment of addiction. Some of these substances are questionable at best. Others have worked very well to get people off of other dangerous drugs. One such substance of much controversy is ibogaine. But what is ibogaine?
At Northpoint Washington, we have experience treating addiction to many different substances, including opioids and psychedelic drugs. Our evidence-based treatment programs are tailored to each person’s unique needs. Find more substance abuse resources or get started today by calling 425.437.3298.
What Is Ibogaine?
Ibogaine is a psychedelic substance that is found in parts of West Africa. It is a substance found inside a shrub called the iboga. Ibogaine has been used ritualistically for years. The people of the Bwiti religion in West Africa call it a holy substance. They regularly use it for healing ceremonies and various initiation rituals.
In the United States, some say that ibogaine can be used to treat opiate addiction. The FDA has not approved ibogaine for this purpose. Some experimental trials are currently happening to check its efficacy for this purpose.
The History of Ibogaine in the United States
French and Belgian explorers first reported ibogaine use in the 19th Century. Between the 1930s and the 1960s, ibogaine was sold in France. It was used as a mental and physical stimulant because of its psychedelic properties.
By the 1960s, the World Health Assembly had classified ibogaine as a dangerous substance. They claimed that it was a danger to human health. They also said that it was a drug that was likely to cause dependency.
Howard Lotsof discovered the drug’s anti-addictive properties in 1962. He was addicted to heroin at the time and discovered a decrease in cravings while using it. Also, his withdrawal symptoms seemed to decrease substantially.
Since then, ibogaine has been studied intensively. However, it still remains an unapproved substance by the FDA.
Why Is Ibogaine Considered to be Illegal?
In the United States, ibogaine is considered a Schedule I controlled substance. This classification is in place for several reasons, namely:
- Because of its hallucinogenic effects
- Because it is considered to be a neurotoxin
- It carries extreme cardiovascular side effects
- There have not been any safe trials in humans done as of yet
- The drug has only ever been tested on animals
In other countries, ibogaine is also illegal. Some governments do not regulate it, but it is considered a non-approved prescription medicine.
What Types of Addictions Does Ibogaine Treat?
Ibogaine is said to be an excellent way to treat addictions to opiate medications or drugs. This includes such drugs as:
Proponents of ibogaine state that the drug does not lead to hallucinations in smaller doses. They say that it is actually quite safe in a controlled environment.
Still, there is so much controversy surrounding this substance. It’s hard to say whether or not the FDA will ever approve ibogaine. If it is approved, using it may even come at quite a cost. The facts on this remain to be seen.
Understanding Opiate Addictions and Why Ibogaine Might be Used to Treat Them
People who use opioid drugs can quickly develop a tolerance to them. This tolerance is what leads to instances of addiction. They may become both physically and psychologically addicted to opiates in a very short amount of time. When this occurs, the drug of choice becomes an obsession. It begins to negatively affect health, work, school, and relationships.
Many people accidentally become addicted to opioids because they’re unaware of how dangerous they are. When prescription opiates cause addiction, these individuals frequently turn to heroin. As a result, the opioid addiction problem in the United States has been called an epidemic.
It seems reasonable to think that some type of treatment must be sought to help this problem. So many people are turning to heroin, and a solution needs to be found. Still, it is unclear whether or not ibogaine is it. It is said that ibogaine can reduce cravings for opioid drugs. Even though a drug like this is needed, the risks might outweigh the benefits in this case.
How Does Ibogaine Work in Treating Addiction to Opioid Drugs?
Scientists are still studying how ibogaine works to help with opiate addiction. So much still needs to be learned. Many believe that the drug will increase how much serotonin is in the brain. This is the chemical that is partly responsible for feeling pleasure and security.
For people struggling with addiction, serotonin levels are depleted. They rely on their drug of choice to increase it for them. There is a chance that ibogaine can help with this.
Ibogaine in Opiate Detox
It is expected that people who use ibogaine for opiate detox might follow through several different phases.
The first phase begins within two hours of taking ibogaine. It may last as long as eight hours. It may include visions and hallucinations. This phase can be very intense, and it may not be pleasant. The second phase will begin by the eighth hour and last as long as 20 hours. It is a time of personal reflection. It is said that a lot of healing occurs during this treatment phase.
The third phase begins within 24 hours and can last as long as 72 hours. Prior to this phase, the individual is mainly responding to internal stimuli. By this time, the focus turns outward. The final phase is recovery, which should result in drug abstinence. During this period, cravings should be dramatically decreased. At this point, counseling is critical.
Ibogaine Use Statistics and Facts
A long-term study was done in Mexico on ibogaine. 30 people were studied during the course of this study. People were monitored carefully from the beginning of treatment, and for a whole year.
What they found was:
- Within the first month, one-third of the patients experienced a relapse back into drug use.
- Within two months, 60% of the patients relapsed.
- Within six months, 80% of the patients had relapsed.
- Only 20% managed to remain abstinent for more than six months without aftercare.
- Only four of the participants remained abstinent for the entire year.
As a result of this study, it was found that ibogaine really wasn’t a good way to treat addiction. Instead, it only served to interrupt it temporarily.
The Risks Associated with Using Ibogaine for Treating Opiate Addiction
There are many risks involved with giving patients ibogaine to treat opiate addictions. Among these risks are:
- Stomach and digestion problems
- Heart problems and complications
There is also a very real risk of becoming addicted to ibogaine. Even if it is used in smaller doses, this risk of addiction cannot be denied. It certainly should not be ignored.
Ibogaine Abuse and the Risk for Secondary Addiction
People who are addicted to opiate drugs already have a tendency toward addiction. This means that they should not take any drug that can lead to addiction.
Secondary addictions happen all the time. They most commonly occur when patients are given addictive drugs during the detoxification process. In the case of a secondary addiction to ibogaine, additional addiction treatment may be needed. Otherwise, the use of this drug becomes nothing more than perpetuating a co-addiction.
Alternate Treatment Options for Opioid Addictions
Opioid addictions can be treated in so many other ways. There really is no need to introduce another addictive drug to the patient. These ways include:
- Holistic detoxification utilizing the body’s own natural processing methods
- Medical opiate detox solution that involves tapering off the drugs
- Providing patients with individual counseling to get to the source of the addiction
- Introducing patients to group therapy as a way to gain support for recovery
- Attending Narcotics Anonymous, or another support group
Opiate Detox and Opiate Rehab Are Available
Now that you know the answer to “what is ibogaine?” you can find the treatment you need. If you are addicted to opioids, an experimental treatment isn’t necessary. You may have heard some good things about ibogaine. It’s possible that you’re even considering giving it a try. This is a highly dangerous drug that should be avoided at all costs.
Here at Northpoint Washington, we offer opiate detox to our patients. Our methods are FDA-approved, and they are effective. In fact, we have a proven track record of success. Get started today by calling 425.437.3298 or contacting us online.