While it may seem counterintuitive to leverage the use of one illicit substance for the treatment of another, current studies and clinics across the world have sought Ibogaine as a tool for opioid addiction recovery—and the success has been measurably significant.

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What Is Ibogaine?

Ibogaine is a psychoactive chemical compound that naturally occurs in a variety of different plants. It is classified as a hallucinogen, and carries both psychedelic and dissociative properties that have led to its complete ban in many countries. Previously used as a medicine and ritualistic substance in many African traditions, the drug has reached international availability.

Ibogaine users experience two distinct phases of symptoms in most cases. The first is a very realistic dreamlike series of visual hallucinations, notable for both open-eye and closed-eye effects, and sensations of either euphoria or fear based on those visions. The second phase is a comedown-like introspective phase, which is described as calming and euphoric, with a keen sense of intellectual and emotional clearness. During this phase, individuals have noted revelations through deep thinking and resolutions—abusers of other drugs have noticed a conspicuous absence of both cravings for the drugs and withdrawal symptoms. This effect can last up to several days, prompting researchers to study Ibogaine's potential for addiction recovery treatment.

Status In Addiction Recovery

The countries that have not banned Ibogaine are pursuing the drug as a treatment for addiction to heroin, cocaine, alcohol, methamphetamine and other opioids. Its current usage has been accepted in 12 countries around the world.

Patients using Ibogaine have found the drug to alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal, especially in cases of opioid abuse. Clinicians have leveraged the drug in many treatment programs, ranging from opioid addiction to alcoholism, though the common consensus is that the drug is still in an experimental phase and requires more research before it can be formally released as an effective, safe treatment.

Generally used over the course of 12 to 18 months in current clinics and studies, users have noted revelatory visions, oftentimes unveiling the cause or series of events that led to their original dependency. Some have experienced a full relapse, but the majority have shown visible, verifiable signs of breaking their other addictions.

Long-Term Studies And Future Use

Unfortunately, in its current state, Ibogaine carries a number of side effects, including (by some estimates) a mortality rate of one in 300. Its classification as a Schedule I drug in the United States further complicates its successful adoption. Researchers are currently pursuing several options through long-term studies and pharmaceutical development.

Scientists seek to first determine the long-term viability of Ibogaine, and whether it carries significant long-term side effects. Second, scientists hope to develop a derivative of the drug that eliminates some of the negative effects, including the severity of hallucinations involved.

Ibogaine's hallucinatory effects may cause unpleasant feelings, but the drug has been described as euphoric and revelatory in the vast majority of cases. Further research into side effects and possible derivatives is necessary before the drug gets full approval, but international professionals firmly believe in the positive effects of Ibogaine.