Can Ibogaine Cure Addiction?
It was recently reported that Brooke Mueller, Charlie Sheen’s most recent ex-wife, is heading south of the border to kick her drug habit after being booted off a plane. Sources say that Ms. Mueller will be attending an exclusive drug rehab in Cancun that specializes in treating addiction with Ibogaine, a drug that comes from plants.
Although some studies have shown that Ibogaine helps treat alcoholism and addiction to certain narcotics and opiates, the US Food and Drug Administration has not approved the drug for use here in America. During the early 90’s, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) conduced studies into the efficacy of Ibogaine, but the project was abandoned due to the risk of death at high doses. The substance is currently listed on Schedule I of the list of controlled substances – meaning that the US government finds it highly addictive with no medicinal value.
However, Ibogaine has been used for both medicinal and ritual purposes in Africa for many years and was introduced in the US about sixty years ago. In the 1960’s, marketers of the drug claimed that it had anti-addictive properties and patients in France used it for weight loss.
Ibogaine is derived entirely from plants, mainly the iboga. It is a psychoactive substance with hallucinogenic effects; when taken at medium dosages, users report a dream-like state (lasting between 1 and 4 hours), followed by a period of introspection (euphoric feelings and mental clarity). Ibogaine is given in even higher doses for addiction treatment and, during the introspection phase (typically lasts many hours and, possibly, days), users report lack of any cravings or symptoms of withdrawal. However, lower doses tend only to stimulate the user.
A drug as powerful as Ibogaine, however, is not without its unpleasant side effects. These issues can last up to twenty-four hours. Many users will experience trouble standing or walking, which can be followed by dry mouth, nausea and vomiting. The risk of vomiting is so high, in fact, that many administrations of the drug are done via enema to avoid it.
Some countries allow the use of Ibogaine in the treatment of opioid and methamphetamine addiction. Derivative preparations are currently being developed that have none of Ibogaine’s hallucinatory effects.
Research into Ibogaine’s effect on addiction has been ongoing and much is unknown about how it acts on the brain and its neurotransmitters. Yet many in he scientific community suspect that the benefits of the drug derive both from lessening uncomfortable withdrawal and enabling the patient to better identify their own psychological issues and negative behaviors. Many patients report seeing images of past events that lead to drug use (helpful when attempting to address underlying issues) or having visions that aid in relieving the negative feelings that fueled their drug use.
In opioid addiction, practitioners report an over eighty percent success rate and tie this high number to Ibogaine’s ability to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Use of Ibogaine for drug treatment is now accepted in, among other countries, Canada, Mexico, France, and the UK. In many cases, administration of a therapeutic course of Ibogaine is followed by intensive counseling therapy; often more than one round of the drug is needed for lasting sobriety.