What would you say to people looking into ibogaine clinics? Are there other options?
Currently, the standard of care is detoxification with methadone or buprenorphine, or entry to a three-day hospital detox program.
People seeking ibogaine need to request the credentials and experience of their treatment provider. Addicts are going to do ibogaine wherever they can get it, but I would say that it is “buyer beware.” Do your homework. Make sure that you’re working with a doctor who is a genuine doctor, ideally someone who has trained with me or worked with us in St. Kitts. You want to be sure that you’re really getting ibogaine (some people combine ibogaine with other drugs), and that you’re entrusting yourself to someone who has a lot of experience and is trained in emergency medicine or cardiology and certified in addiction medicine, who can safely administer ibogaine.
How important is the psychedelic “journey,” or do you think that the metabolite of ibogaine is enough?
After twenty-five years of studying ibogaine, I’m still convinced that not only does the “journey” help people gain insight into destructive behaviors, but that it’s also very effective for curbing the compulsive desire and cravings for drugs, especially opiates.
I called the initial ibogaine dose a chemical Bar Mitzvah in an article in Omni Magazine over a decade ago. I stand by that: I think it is important to give a patient the ibogaine “journey” because it does help them develop insights into their self-destructive behaviors.
However, addiction is a brain disease, so the molecule needs to target this aspect. There are organic triggers for continuing to abuse drugs, psychological triggers, and social triggers—and for many people, it’s about finding the brain’s locus of control. In the twelve-step program, you give the control up to a higher power. My clients who did ibogaine under medical supervision said that it’s like doing the fourth step, where you complete a moral inventory. Instead of white-knuckling a detox, the “journey” helps you get over the hump. The body then makes noribogaine, which is the booster to get through the withdrawals. It’s an antidepressant and helps block cravings. The noribogaine stays in the brain for several weeks. If you give noribogaine to a rat, they will stop taking cocaine, stop taking alcohol, stop taking opioids, and stop taking nicotine. These studies help us understand why ibogaine is effective as an addiction interrupter.
“If you give noribogaine to a rat, they will stop taking cocaine, stop taking alcohol, stop taking opioids, and stop taking nicotine.”
My ideal would be to follow the ibogaine treatment with a noribogaine depot injection that lasts 30 days, or a patch, or a pill that you take once or twice a week to help addicts extend that window of addiction interruption to allow the brain chemistry to restore itself back to normal. If an addict feels like they’re going to relapse, they can go to their doctor and get the patch or pill to prevent the drug craving from returning, to help block the desire to get high.
Drugs lead you to bad places, and every addict is going to need some post-ibogaine therapy. But this treatment speeds up the therapeutic process and helps patients make that transition to long-term sobriety.
It seems like a slam dunk: What can we all do to help advance the cause?
I have thought about this question for a very long time. I believe that we really need to create a citizen’s petition to move ibogaine from Schedule I to Schedule II. First, ibogaine is not a recreational drug of abuse. No one wants to take ibogaine to get high. Second, it would be incredible if physicians could use ibogaine in this country under a compassionate use protocol. That’s what I want to work toward. Drug addiction is a life-threatening disorder, and pharmaceutical companies are not stepping up to help by developing effective treatments.
Post-9/11, we’ve been overrun with cheap heroin entering our country. Prescription drug abuse is off the charts. Drug traffickers from Mexico are spiking heroin with fentanyl, causing many more opioid-related deaths. In China, people are synthesizing fentanyl analogs and these designer molecules are coming into the US through Mexico.
We can’t afford the opioid drug epidemic that we have today in America. Everyone is affected, from our health care system to employers, families, and children. Addicts need safe access to help them get off of the drugs—they have a right to have an ibogaine treatment, administered in a safe setting. People want the opportunity to get off drugs and to go back to being functioning, tax-paying citizens. They shouldn’t have to go to back-door, abortion-style clinics, desperate for a chance at recovery.
“People want the opportunity to get off drugs and to go back to being functioning, tax-paying citizens. They shouldn’t have to go to back-door, abortion-style clinics, desperate for a chance at recovery.”
A lot can be done with some seed money—a small group of well-meaning individuals could help us bring this before the right audience. This is something that I’m working toward right now.
The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of goop, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.