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The Treatment Controversy- Ibogaine: It’s a Drug Not Treatment

The controversy about Ibogaine will eventually titrate down to discussion level. For now, the mention of it as a treatment protocol seems to stir passionate discussion among all disciplines in the addiction treatment field.

Ibogaine has been around for over a century. It has extremely powerful neurological impacts and its current popular use is now touted as a quick and painless 24 – 48 hour Detox. Ibogaine is derived from a plant and has extremely potent hallucinogenic effects in addition to having the potential of eliminating the withdrawal symptoms associated with opiate cessation. A google search will reveal just how little is known about Ibogaine in clinical use.

Clearly not as toxic as the flesh eating cocaine scare, Ibogaine and its current clinical use has to be approached with caution. The United States classifies Ibogaine as a Schedule I drug and prohibits the substance from medical use. However, only four other countries in the world either heavily restrict or prohibit its use.

Based on a couple of decades of very limited research Ibogaine can accomplish a few things. It does show promise as an expedited Detox and does show neurological evidence that it disrupts the circuitry that promotes cravings. Ibogaine has its advocates and there are some facilities that have continually used this drug and there is clearly anecdotal evidence that it does help people break the addiction cycle.

It is critical to note that Ibogaine is not treatment. The deficit of research on this drug despite its growing use during the past decade is evidence that it’s long lasting effects to break addiction are negligible. This is a drug that can produce some extremely powerful psychological reactions and thus requires skilled application by medical and mental health professionals – that level of multi-disciplinary skill is not so common among those who administer this protocol. Detractors of Ibogaine submit that this is a hallucinogenic drug that can easily produce psychological damage and those seeking treatment are not carefully screened or adequately assessed regarding their resilience.

Not the miracle Detox drug that it might have been, with time and certainly more rigorous scientific study, Ibogaine is not another medication to launch into the trash bin. Ibogaine may have great potential to be part of the process that helps addicts get clean; but there is still a critical need for more comprehensive treatment and counseling to increase long term success.

S. Darcy
Vista Taos Renewal Center

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