18th July 2019
Iboga therapy has been rapidly increasing in popularity as an alternative to conventional addiction treatments, such as the use of methadone. Iboga’s powerful, positive effects on the symptoms of withdrawal and cravings for various drugs have changed countless lives, sending many down the path to recovery. But like many powerful substances, its use comes with a number of potential side effects and risks. While we at Iboga Tree Healing House are passionate advocates for Iboga's use in the treatment of addiction, we are equally passionate about educating prospective users about ibogaine risks and the potential dangers that go hand in hand with its benefits, and ensuring that providers and users are forewarned and forearmed against any and all potentially harmful side-effects that could occur.
The Global Ibogaine Therapy Alliance has a laundry list of potential side-effects and ibogaine risks, as well as medical conditions that can be exacerbated by Iboga use. They report that between 1990 and 2008, 19 deaths were associated with the ingestion of Iboga, which were “associated with a number of pre-existing conditions and factors that include pre-existing cardiac conditions and seizures resulting from acute withdrawal from alcohol or benzodiazepines” as well as mixing iboga with other “drugs of abuse.”
It is recommended that people with heart conditions, impaired kidney or liver function, certain psychological conditions, and those experiencing withdrawal from a certain of substances (such as methadone, benzos, alcohol, and others) should avoid using Iboga. Some studies have found that abnormally high doses of the drug may induce seizures, although in smaller doses it acts as an anti-convulsive.
Mitigating the Risks
Any responsible provider should exclude those with pre-existing heart conditions from iboga therapy. Of the 19 Iboga-related deaths which have occurred, six were determined to have resulted from cardiac arrest, and in all but one of those cases, the deceased had a pre-existing heart condition. The one cardiac arrest death which occurred in a user with a healthy heart was the result of self-administration of Iboga along with an unspecified “booster” which he had purchased on the internet.
There is debate on whether patients with HIV and certain psychiatric disorders should use iboga. The main reason offered for excluding these groups is a lack of research into whether iboga use will exacerbate the symptoms of disease. As there is no evidence that the treatment is harmful to patients with HIV, some treatment facilities offer iboga to those suffering from the virus, but at Iboga Tree Healing House we prefer to err on the side of caution, as the data on the ibogaine health risks under these conditions is not conclusive. For a full list of our inclusion and exclusion criteria, follow this link.
Using iboga while drugs of abuse are in your system is extremely dangerous, and must be avoided. Iboga can intensify the effects of opiates, so it’s imperative that they must be completely out of your system before you enter treatment. The intensely reflective state, reduction of cravings, neurological effects, and sense of well-being that iboga can provide have helped many recovering from addiction to alcohol, but withdrawal from this substance must be completed before iboga can be safely administered. It is recommended that patients dealing with alcoholism complete a minimum of 7 days of medically supervised withdrawal, or they risk a host of side-effects including cardiomyopathy, delirium tremens, and seizures.
It should also be noted that iboga reduces substance users to a so-called “novice state.” This means that following treatment, a users tolerance to opioids and other drugs of abuse is dramatically lowered. While addicts clearly intend to stay sober forever, it’s important that they are aware of this in the event of a relapse, as their vulnerability to overdose will be far greater.
Finding a Safe Provider
If you’re dealing with a responsible iboga provider, they will ask you for a great deal of medical information to assess your ibogaine health risks. This “Psychedelic Times” article offers a detailed breakdown of what a clinic needs from you to provide for your safety. At Iboga Tree healing House we go even further, requiring our clients to take an EKG test, be free from stimulants (including coffee), undertake a comprehensive blood count and metabolic panel, and test liver and kidney function. We also check and monitor levels of serum electrolytes and thyroid function for patients over 45 years old.
We cannot over-stress this: if a clinic doesn’t ask you for a detailed medical and psychiatric history, run! This means that either they value your money far more than they value your safety, or that they are ignorant of the significant harm iboga can do if used irresponsibly.
The Iboga Tree Healing House Difference
In spite of all of these dangers, and in spite of the fact that iboga is frequently administered without adequate (and in some cases any) medical supervision, iboga remains safer than methadone! Of the 19 deaths temporally associated with Ibogaine use, 14 have provided adequate post-mortem data. Of those 14, 12 were associated with a pre-existing medical condition or the presence of other drugs of abuse. The other two occurred in situations without adequate medical supervision.
As we’ve written before, there are certain conditions under which iboga is not completely safe, but we feel that every single death resulting from its use has been avoidable. Because we have seen its immense potential to re-shape lives at risk, we have become advocates for educating the public about its risks, as well as its benefits. Irresponsible use has the potential to end lives, as well as making this promising tool for fighting the opioid epidemic away from multitudes who could use it to regain their health and well-being.
16th July 2019
Psychologist Dr. Bruce Alexander published his groundbreaking “Rat Park” study just a hair over 40 years ago. This groundbreaking study changed the way the world thought about the nature of addiction completely. That’s why, a full 40 years after it was originally published, it’s still being discussed, celebrated, and criticized today - maybe more so now than ever before. What was Dr. Alexander’s “Rat Park” study, and why is it still generating debate as it reaches middle age?
What was "Rat Park"?
Since the 1930s, scientists had been using a device called the “Skinner Box”, essentially a small box with a light, a tube for food, and a tube with which rats could self-administer water mixed with various substances. Studies that used the Skinner Box reinforced what scientists already believed about addiction: that the inherent properties in intoxicating substances caused dependence. The Rat Park study upended this easy tautology. Dr. Alexander put his rats in a much larger space. They were given access to toys, exercise equipment, and other rats to fulfill their social and sexual needs. Alexander found that the rats who lived in a happy, communal environment were far less likely to become addicted to substances than were isolated rats.
Why are all of these studies conducted on rats? One reason is that rats have a similar genome to humans. Human genes associated with disease generally have an equivalent in rat genomes. Another is that, like humans, rats are a social species who generally live in close proximity to others of their species and communicate with each other regularly. Other reasons include wide availability, size, fast reproductive rates, low cost, and ease of handling.
Alexander took 4 groups of rats. The first was isolated in Skinner Boxes. The second lived in rat park. The third was placed in isolation for the first half of the study and moved to Rat Park for the second half. The fourth group began in Rat Park and were moved to isolated cages halfway through. All of the rats were given the option of drinking tap water or water infused with a sweetened morphine solution.
The results showed that rats who were in a comfortable, social environment were far less likely to use, or become dependent on, morphine than isolated rats. The caged males drank 19x more morphine than the males in Rat Park. The rats of both sexes housed in Rat Park showed a strong preference for plain water. The most interesting group was the group moved from cages to the Rat Park. They “rejected the morphine solution when it was stronger, but as it became sweeter and more dilute, they began to drink almost as much as the rats that had lived in cages.” This led Alexander to conclude that the rats preferred the sweetened water, but didn’t want it to disrupt their normal social behavior.
Alexander felt that the results of his study disproved theories of drug-induced addiction. He felt that normal humans and animals could ignore, and even use, substances such as opiates without becoming addicted. He believed that addiction was caused by social isolation and environmental stress. Alexander’s pithy conclusion was “Addiction isn’t you- It’s the cage you live in.”
Asserting that drugs weren’t the central problem in addiction was an extremely controversial statement in 1980, as the War on Drugs was at its height. The US government was spending trillions of dollars enforcing draconian drug laws and broadcasting ads like this one. The first two science publications that Alexander took his results to, “Science” and “Nature,” both rejected the study, but Alexander’s results were accepted and published by the journal “Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior.”
Critics of the study have pointed to flaws in methodology and implementation. A malfunctioning electronic device lost 8 days of data on the amounts of liquid the rats consumed. The isolated rats were denied proximity to rats of the opposite sex, and the rats in Rat Park had pups during the study (the effects of pregnancy and childbirth could have influenced the study, and Alexander makes no mention of whether the pups were left in the park or not). Dr. Sam Snodgrass, a Director of the substance abuse support organization “Broken No More”, argues that “You can’t do this. You can’t have one group of subjects mating and with pups and compare it to a group that doesn’t engage in these behaviors and say that the difference between the two groups is caused by environmental differences.”
A new understanding
The study, which was largely dismissed when published, surged into the limelight in the 1990s, as what Alexander referred to as “The Myth of the Demon Drug” fell out of favor, and increasing numbers of doctors, journalists, and scientists began to explore the nature of addiction with open minds. A 1996 study attempted to replicate the experiment, with mixed results. Meanwhile, Dr. Gabor Mate brought public attention to the Rat Park study and statistics from the Vietnam War, which showed that soldiers in combat zones used 20x more heroin than they did pre and post-deployment. Johann Hari’s influential Ted Talk on addiction brought even more attention to the study. It even inspired a re-telling in comic book form! Meanwhile, pieces like this one in “Psychology Today” argue that the study promotes an unrealistic and irresponsibly simplistic view of addiction.
The study remains a hot-button topic for anyone concerned with addiction. It is now controversial because it appears to challenge the “disease model” of addiction, which focuses on genetic and neurological factors, rather than emphasizing the importance of social and psychological factors. Regardless of whether Alexander’s experiment was flawed, it has inspired more thought, research, debate, and insight into the nature of addiction than almost any other experiment. Perhaps most importantly, it has also shown us the importance of emphasizing social re-integration and psychological health in the treatment of addiction.
15th July 2019
During our years of working in recovery, we’ve noticed a simple step in the process of becoming healthy and whole once again. At Iboga Tree Healing House, we’ve seen the power of forgiveness transform lives and free countless individuals from the pain and bitterness of the past. Today we’ll take a deeper look at a wonderful word that has brought light into the lives of those who are strong enough to put the past behind them.
When we think of forgiveness, we usually think of ourselves forgiving others. We let someone’s bad behavior slide, or accept the flaws of a loved one. Forgiveness can mean a lot more than that. It is one of life’s true blessings. Holding onto and nursing all of the wrongs done to us can have a toxic effect on our physical and mental health. Think of your friends, family, and acquaintances. Now think of the person you know who holds grudges the longest, or the person with the largest list of grievances. Ask yourself, is that the person I would like to be?
“When you forgive, you in no way change the past- but you sure do change the future!”
-Radio Host Brad Meltzer
Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting all of your past traumas, and all of the transgressions committed against you. It doesn’t mean that the hurt you have suffered will disappear, leaving you whole and unblemished. As Sarah Montana notes in this powerful Ted Talk, which recounts her journey toward forgiving the man who killed her mother and brother, forgiveness isn’t a shortcut to healing. It’s a path to freedom. It means that you stop telling yourself the same painful story over and over again. You assess the damage done to you (not to others) and let it go. Many people think that withholding forgiveness is a way to punish those who have transgressed against them, but in reality, they are punishing themselves: refusing to move on from a painful memory, and wallowing in it rather than climbing out of the muck.
If you have lived with addiction, embracing forgiveness is a necessary step for moving on with your life. It will help to set you free from the anguish and trauma that caused you to lean so heavily on drugs and alcohol. But more importantly, it will help you learn to live with yourself. In recovery, it’s time to admit that you have not been your best self for the past months, years or even decades. You haven’t been the person you want to see when you look in the mirror and examine the choices you’ve made. What’s truly important now is not who you have been, but who you will become.
We would strongly recommend that you examine your choices and actions before and during addiction. Identify the people you’ve wronged, the pain you’ve caused, and the things that cause you shame and regret. If it’s possible, find a way to make amends to the people you’ve hurt, and do so, without conditions, justifications, or expectations. Ask them to forgive you, don’t try to persuade them.
If it isn’t possible to make personal amends, deal with your desire for forgiveness in another way. Pour your guilt and repentance into a letter you can’t send, make a pledge to do no more harm, donate to a charity the aggrieved person would care about, or perform a random act of kindness. The intention behind the act will help you to move on.
In forgiving, we recognize a sense of inherent worth in others that exists whether or not it is always reflected in behavior. You need to acknowledge your own inherent worth, or risk sliding into self-loathing, a mental prison which is often accompanied by the self-destructive behavior you are attempting to break free of. Self-compassion is a necessary component of recovery and a cornerstone of good mental health.
“Forgiveness is like this: a room can be dank because you have closed the windows, you’ve closed the curtains. But the sun is shining outside, and the air is fresh outside. In order to get that fresh air, you have to get up and open the window and draw the curtains apart.”
-Archbishop Desmond Tutu
In order to forgive, it’s necessary to cultivate the mental strength to open that window. This wonderful article by Robert Enright outlines some key elements for building the mental muscles that will make forgiveness possible in his book, “8 Keys to Forgiveness.”
Forgiveness is the embodiment of empathy, compassion, tolerance, and hope. We recommend becoming fit for forgiveness to anyone trapped in the dark, dank room of addiction.
22nd May 2019
Back in the late 1990s, people began using prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs with increasing frequency. Throughout the past few decades, these potent and dangerous painkillers have become more popular globally, and have caused a massive spike in overdose deaths around the world. In 1999, 4000 Americans died from overdose deaths. By 2017 that number had ballooned to 72000, and over 2/3s of overdose deaths that year were related to opioid use. The opioid epidemic has seen drug overdoses become the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50. Here’s what parents need to know about this horrific threat to their children’s well-being...
Opioids: what are they?
Opioids are a class of moderately to extremely strong painkillers that include oxycodone (marketed as OxyContin and Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin and Norco), and fentanyl, which is synthesized to act as an opiate, similar to morphine and heroin. According to WebMd, opioids work by “binding to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other areas of the body. They reduce the sending of pain messages to the brain and reduce feelings of pain. Opioids are used to treat moderate to severe pain that may not respond well to other pain medications.” Because this class of drug is extremely potent and widely available, opioids have become popular both as a medical treatment and as a recreational drug.
How did the opioid epidemic get started?
Because of morphine abuse in the late 1800s and early 1900s, doctors were initially reluctant to prescribe opioids, and their use in medicine was quite rare until the 1980s. In 1980, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine titled “Addiction Rare in Patients Treated With Narcotics” generated a great deal of attention, and, coupled with lobbying and promotion from the pharmaceutical industry, convinced doctors that opioids could be safely prescribed. In 2017, the NEJM published a rebuttal of the article, stating that the “conclusions were based on hospitalized patients only, and not on patients taking the drugs after they were sent home.” Meanwhile, the study’s author, Dr. Herschel Jick has stated that he never intended to justify widespread opioid use.
Is the opioid epidemic happening only in the USA?
While 80% of global opioid use occurs in the USA, the opioid crisis has spread across the globe, and young people are at a higher risk than others. In Europe, Canada and Australia, prescription drug abuse rates among teenagers are similar to the USA. Studies in Lebanon, China and Saudi Arabia have found that 1 in 10 teenagers had used painkillers for non-medical purposes, and statistics from Europe show that prescription opioids account for 3/4s of overdose deaths among those aged 15 to 39. Meanwhile, in the UK, 3756 people died from drug poisoning in 2017, the highest number on record. Fears exist that the opioid crisis could grow into a global pandemic.
How does the opioid epidemic compare to previous drug scares?
Sadly, the answer to this question is absolutely yes. Opioids have a sedative effect on the parts of the brain which regulate breathing, which causes respiratory depression, respiratory failure, and far too often, death. Mike Stobbe, a medical writer for the Associated Press, writes that “there were fewer than 3,000 overdose deaths in 1979, when a heroin epidemic was raging in U.S. cities. There were fewer than 5,000 recorded in 1988, around the height of the crack epidemic. More than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year , according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
What is fentanyl?
Perhaps the most terrifying part of this whole horrorshow is fentanyl, a new synthetic opioid painkiller that is 50-100 times stronger than morphine, and 30-50 times more potent than heroin. Pure white, odorless and scentless, fentanyl can be lethal in doses of just 2 milligrams! The drug is so potent that police and first responders have overdosed just from touching it or inhaling small amounts. It’s estimated that $800 million worth of fentanyl pills have been shipped to the US from China over the past two years, and AP reporters recently found Chinese manufacturers ready and willing to ship carfentanyl, an elephant tranquilizer so powerful that it has been labeled a chemical weapon.
Deaths from fentanyl have increased by 540% since 2015, and they account for the largest number of opioid overdose deaths. Heroin, cocaine, and other drugs often contain fentanyl, and accidental overdose deaths caused by unknowing consumption of fentanyl are becoming more common. The deaths of Prince and Mac Miller were both fentanyl-related. A US Attorney in Ohio, a region hard hit by the opioid crisis, recently warned that “One of the truly terrifying things is the pills are pressed and dyed to look like oxycodone. If you are using oxycodone and take fentanyl not knowing it is fentanyl, that is an overdose waiting to happen. Each of those pills is a potential overdose death.” The American DEA claims that a kilogram of fentanyl can be bought in China for $3,000 to $5,000, then smuggled into the United States to generate over $1.5 million. The profitability of this drug leads traffickers to adulterate other drugs with fentanyl without the knowledge of the drug user.
What can we do?
While various governments have declared states of emergency and vowed to take measures to address this crisis, drug users and their families can’t afford to wait on legislative solutions. Opioid addiction comes with a ghastly collection of risks, and we would urge anyone suffering from it to look for immediate detox and treatment. Iboga treatment has been proven to be very effective for many addicts who abuse oxycodone and other members of the opioid family of drugs, eliminating many of the withdrawal symptoms and cravings related to opioid dependence.
Abusing opioids is a game of Russian Roulette. It’s time to stop playing and get the help you need!
17th May 2019
If you’re visiting our website, you probably have some experience with addiction, whether it’s personal, through a friend or a loved one, or because you work in the treatment sector. As a matter of fact, almost everyone has been touched by the physical and emotional fallout from this dis-ease. According to the charity Action on Addiction, 1 in 3 people is addicted to something, whether it’s alcohol, caffeine, gambling, the internet, or an illicit drug. But even people who have lived with addiction for years can misunderstand the fundamental nature of the dis-ease. Let’s take a look at the latest literature and scientific findings, and try to define this elusive and crippling ailment.
According to the traditional understanding of addiction, it is basically defined as using, taking or doing something until one loses the ability to stop and the activity or substance becomes harmful. It is commonly used to describe an individual’s relationship with alcohol, drugs, nicotine, or gambling, but as our understanding of the dis-ease has expanded, experts have included work, social media, sex, shopping, food, pornography and even video games in the category of addictions.
As psychologists and neuroscientists have continued to study addiction, they have noticed that it has profound effects on the central nervous system. As Psychology Today’s definition of the disorder notes, there “is scientific evidence that the addictive substances and behaviors share a key neurobiological feature—they intensely activate brain pathways of reward and reinforcement, many of which involve the neurotransmitter dopamine.”
The authors of the Psychology Today piece note that many of the changes to neurological function that addicts experience are similar to other compulsive disorders, and they respond to the same forms of treatment.
Because addiction reshapes the brain’s executive functions, addicts typically are slower to recognize (or perhaps incapable of recognizing) the problems that addiction creates for themselves and those around them. This often leads them to pursue the pleasure they gain from their addiction at the expense of all other areas of their lives, such as family, health, work, and friends.
So, rather than a failure of self-control, or a choice to prioritize opiates or blackjack ahead of a healthy life and happy family, the medical establishment has come to characterize addiction as a neurological problem. As the American National Institute on Drug Abuse defines it, drug abuse is “a brain disorder, because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control, and those changes may last a long time after a person has stopped taking drugs.” They note that, as with heart dis-ease, addiction disrupts the normal functioning of an organ, has profound harmful effects and is often treatable and preventable. However, if left untreated both dis-eases can be fatal.
What this ‘disease model” understanding of addiction fails to take into account, however, are the psycho-spiritual conditions which make some people’s bodies and mind such fertile ground for addiction to take root in the first place. To understand this aspect of addiction fully, it is necessary to dig a little deeper, to the root of the problem.
Unearthing the roots of addiction
Why do people use drugs and alcohol, or partake in other harmful forms of behaviour? There are generally a few reasons, but most would agree that usually, the user wants one of three things: The first is to feel good, to gain the intense pleasure caused by an activity or substance. The second is to feel better, to gain relief from pain, stress, anxiety or depression. The third is to do better, to increase performance in a sport, activity or academic pursuit.
While drugs are generally pleasurable at first, habits are formed quickly. In what most people would see as a fairly harmless example of the birth of an addiction, a student hasn’t slept enough during an exam period and starts drinking coffee to stimulate their mental faculties. They keep drinking coffee in order to study more and soon realize that they need more and more of it to achieve the same effects. When they try to stop, they suffer from headaches, have difficulty concentrating, and are in a funk for a few days. This cycle plays out the same way with far more dangerous substances and problematic behaviours than drinking coffee in other forms of substance misuse.
As substance misuse begins moving further toward addiction, physical changes occur in areas of the brain crucial to judgment, decision-making, learning, memory and behaviour control. While a student who drinks coffee for two weeks may find it fairly easy to break free, most addicts find their self-control seriously impaired by these neurological changes.
Substance Abuse and Addiction: Defining The Terms
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), drug abuse is defined as an individual experiencing either legal problems caused by use, an inability to manage responsibilities, or causing physical harm to others while under the influence and then continuing to use the problematic substance. The criteria for a diagnosis of addiction includes these problems, as well as the onset of withdrawal symptoms, neglect of work, hobbies, family and friends, and patterns of behavior that revolve around getting and staying high.
The key differentiator between abuse and addiction is an inability to stop using. A person who abuses drugs can generally stop for extended periods of time when faced with the catastrophic effects of their habit. An addict recognizes the detrimental effects of their dis-ease, but cannot cut down or stop their use, despite their best efforts and intentions. This is why the American Government defines drug addiction as a “chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences.”
Addiction Treatment: A New Paradigm
After years of study, Canadian doctor and philosopher Gabor Maté has concluded that addiction is, in its simplest terms, a response to pain - a coping mechanism for traumatic events and circumstances. He notes that the same parts of the brain respond in the same ways to physical and mental pain and that addicts are generally seeking relief from physical or mental trauma. Maté feels that, in order to treat addiction, we must ultimately face our pain and learn to live with it.
Swiss-British journalist Johann Hari conducted a years long study of addiction. He concluded that people who are isolated and alienated from loved ones and society at large are at higher risk for addiction than those with loving bonds and healthy relationships with those around them. He posits that addictions are rooted in a desire to create bonds with others and an inability to create those bonds with the people in one’s life. Therefore, the addict turns to a drug, or alcohol, or a behaviour to cope with the psycho-spiritual gap left by one’s lack of connection to others, often to their own detriment.
The Good News
While addiction is a horrible affliction, and even those who make progress frequently relapse, evidence shows that the majority of addicts recover from addiction at some point in their lives. And there are a wider variety of effective treatments now than ever before. Powerful new substances, such as Iboga, have been shown to ease the effects of withdrawal while resetting key neural networks to a pre-addiction state. Meanwhile, holistic and alternative treatments have shown great promise in addressing the roots of addiction, whether trauma, anxiety, or depression. As Psychology Today notes, for addicts who achieve remission of the disorder for 5 years, the risk of relapse is no greater than that experienced by an individual who never suffered from an addiction in the first place!
7th May 2019
Iboga has been proven to help addicts treat the symptoms of their disease, and substantially aid in their recovery. This impressive natural remedy helps to ease withdrawal symptoms and minimize cravings for a variety of addictive substances while restoring receptors in the brain to pre-addiction levels. But with all the promise iboga has shown in treating depression, anxiety, and a host of other ailments, it’s worth exploring Iboga’s other health benefits as well.
Attaining an Ego-Free State
In his insightful book, Ibogaine Explained, Peter Frank details many of the psychological benefits that iboga can confer. Iboga has the effect of temporarily “shattering the ego”, allowing individuals to let go of their petty problems and gain insight on the interconnectedness of the world around them. Frank concludes that these periods of “egolessness” can offer powerful insights into the personal issues that one is facing. As one woman has said of her Iboga treatment, “I wouldn’t recommend it to somebody who is trying to have fun. If you want your body to explode into 1,000 pieces and rebuild itself into something beautiful, then yeah—but don’t expect it to be pleasant.”
This state has been proven to be deeply beneficial to those suffering from depression and anxiety. Researchers have found that many sufferers depict their depression “foremost as a state of disconnection,” whether from other people, their earlier selves, their senses and feelings, their core beliefs and spiritual values, or nature. Several referred to living in “a mental prison,” others to being “stuck” in endless circles of rumination they likened to mental gridlock.”
The testimonials of participants in studies on treating depression with iboga generally report that they feel free from negative cycles of thought and more connected to life around them. Here are a few quotes from a study conducted by the psychologist Rosalind Watts who oversaw the project for the UK’s NHS:
“It was like a holiday away from the prison of my brain. I felt free, carefree, reenergized.”
“I had an experience of tenderness toward myself.”
“At its most basic, I feel like I used to before the depression.”
Iboga’s effects often cause the user to experience past memories in vivid detail, which users describe as akin to being transported into the past. This experience is generally followed by a reflective period, where the user can gain intellectual insight into the causes and effects of trauma. While painful, this process has helped many people suffering from PTSD, as it enabled them to come to terms with the wounds and scars at the root of their depression, addiction, and other problematic areas of their lives.
Ian Roullier, a participant in the NHS study mentioned earlier, was a victim of childhood abuse at the hands of his father, and suffered from depression throughout his adult life. During his experience with iboga, he gained the courage to confront his past. “Normally, when Dad comes up in my head, I just push the thought away. But this time I went the other way… this time I looked him in the eye. That was a really big thing for me, to literally face the demon.”
The experience allowed Roullier to see “that every emotion is as valid as any other… it was okay to have negative thoughts. That’s life. For me, trying to resist emotions just amplified them. Once I was in this state, it was beautiful—a feeling of deep contentment. I had this overwhelming feeling—it wasn’t even a thought—that everything and everyone needs to be approached with love, including myself.”
There are a host of benefits that come from confronting and reflecting on difficult memories while using Iboga. Many people have found that in addition to the mental health benefits, they’ve made progress in battling eating disorders and other problematic relationships with food, addiction to shopping and sex, and other forms of self-destructive behaviour.
There is anecdotal evidence of Iboga being quite helpful in the treatment of fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. All three of these diseases attack the central nervous system, and Iboga’s interactions with cells and receptors in the brain have been theorized to trigger the body to heal itself. In the words of the Global Ibogaine Therapy Alliance: “the theoretical case is based on the fact that both ibogaine and its metabolite noribogaine have been shown to lead to an increase in levels of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) in the brain. It has also been shown to have neuroprotective qualities promoting the survival of both dopaminergic and motor neurons.”
While there isn’t enough clinical research at this point to state with authority that Iboga should be used to treat these diseases, studies on animals have shown that directly administering GDNF significantly lessened the symptoms of those suffering from Parkinson’s. This has led researchers at Columbia University to begin a study on the efficacy of Iboga in treating animals afflicted with Parkinson’s, a study which we hope will confirm the drug’s utility in treating degenerative and autoimmune diseases.
As you can see, Iboga has the potential to offer substantial health benefits to people suffering from a wide variety of ailments. As society becomes more open-minded about the potential of iboga to treat physical and mental illnesses, we are confident that scientific and clinical studies will confirm Ibogaine’s utility as a medical tool. If you’re interested in using Iboga for healing or personal growth, feel free to contact Iboga Tree Healing House for the information you need!
1st May 2019
So you’ve decided to end the waking nightmare of living with addiction. You’ve made a wise choice. You’ve also decided to consider Iboga, a powerful tool to help deal with withdrawals and cravings, which has the added benefit of restoring receptors in the brain to a pre-addicted state. You’re determined to use Iboga to heal yourself, but which iboga treatment program should you choose from the myriad options that are out there?
Let’s explore five key factors that must be considered to select the iboga treatment programme that’s right for you.
1) Your Safety is Paramount
You shouldn’t delude yourself into thinking that Iboga treatment is risk-free. As Clare Wilkins, co-author of the Clinical Guidelines for Ibogaine Assisted Detox notes, asking if Iboga is safe is “like asking if electricity is safe... You can cook a warm meal, light up a room, or electrocute someone with electricity, as they say. It’s similar with iboga. Iboga, in and of itself, is not unsafe. There are both risks and benefits.”
The risks of Iboga treatment include bradycardia (slowing of the heart), liver problems, seizures, and lethal interactions with other substances. We would strongly recommend that anyone seeking the treatment thoroughly research all of the health risks associated with Iboga use, to make an informed decision on whether it’s right for them.
When selecting a treatment option, we urge everyone to choose a center that offers a high degree of medical supervision. At Iboga Tree Healing House we have a medical doctor in-house, rather than on-call or at a nearby hospital. We have a nursing team that is based on a 1:1 nurse per patient ratio. We insist on taking a full medical history prior to treatment, as well as a full set of lab results including a full blood panel, liver function analysis, ECG/EKG and more. We also monitor our patients with an EKG machine during treatment. Furthermore, every member of our medical team is ACLS certified by the American Heart Association.
We feel that Iboga use can be made as safe as possible only under these conditions, and the safety of our clients is our first priority.
2) Legal Issues
While Iboga has powerful medicinal properties, it is still illegal in a number of countries. Why? Presumably because of the risks associated with its use, and its psychedelic properties. We do not recommend using Iboga in a country where its use is illegal, because it will be difficult to obtain proper medical supervision, and because of the risk of arrest and jail time when you are at your most vulnerable. Iboga use is completely illegal in the USA, France, Denmark, Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and the UK. Its legal status is also murky at best in Canada, Israel and Australia. If you’re most comfortable seeking treatment in a “First World” country, international drug policy thought leader Portugal is one of the better options on offer. To date, while iboga is not yet an “approved” therapy for problem alcohol or drug use in Portugal, the fact that it is not the subject of any regulation and is not illegal in Portugal means that it can be administered legally and under the safest possible conditions there. Iboga's status as an experimental natural herbal product in Portugal has opened the door for the forward-thinking country to once again lead the way in maximising iboga’s addiction treatment potential.
3) Location, location, location
While Iboga is a powerful tool for breaking the cycle of addiction, it isn’t a miracle drug which will immediately make the addict whole again. In choosing a treatment center, you should consider what types of support, counseling, and therapy will help you make the transition to a healthy, happy life. If a facility claims that Iboga is all you need, you should be extremely skeptical. At Iboga Tree Healing House we insist upon a course of pre-treatment counseling, which is vital for preparing to manage the details of life after you leave. We also offer a wide range of holistic treatments, which are essential for rebuilding positive patterns of thought and behavior.
Different people have different needs in treatment, so look for a treatment center that will cater to yours. Is the setting comfortable and safe? Do the ancillary treatment options sound like they’ll work for you? Does the center have a history of providing adequate aftercare, and a proven track record for safety? Take the time to find answers to these questions. They can be the difference between life and death.
Hopefully, you’ve already realized that the cheapest options available might not be right for you. You’ll probably need to travel to another country to use Iboga legally. Once again, we cannot stress enough that the cost of guaranteeing adequate medical supervision is essential for your health and safety. While treatment may seem expensive, addiction is incredibly costly for you and your family, and spending a little more to ensure a successful outcome will pay off immeasurably in the future.
At Iboga Tree Healing House, we strive to keep your costs low, but we know that cheaper treatment options do exist. We spend a large part of our revenues on a full team of medical and therapy professionals who are deeply committed to your safety and well-being. We are convinced that it would be irresponsible to do otherwise, and we recommend that when choosing a treatment center, you make sure they do not cut corners in these essential areas. Saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars by getting inadequate treatment in an unsafe setting will almost certainly end up costing you more.
5) Aftercare Options
If you’re reading this, you’re probably yearning to break free from years of negativity and pain. While Iboga is great at freeing you from withdrawals and cravings, it cannot teach you how to live a positive and productive life. Because addiction is so often linked to depression, trauma, and a host of other mental health issues, you should be looking for a course of treatment that offers you tools for personal growth and empowerment, not just detox.
A robust after-care plan should give you tools for building positive patterns of thought, trust, and self-love. It should also teach you how to deal with the stresses of your new life in a positive fashion. At Iboga Tree Healing House we feel that our range of Holistic treatments (including Kundalini Yoga, Equine Assisted therapy, breathwork, meditation, EFT - Emotional Freedom Techniques, acupuncture, massage and more) are extremely helpful in preparing our clients to live happy and healthy lives. In addition to this, we offer all of our former clients free weekly supportive Skype sessions for the rest of their lives Through self-supporting 'fellowship' is known as the IRM - Ibogaine Recovery Movement. we know (and the data has shown) that those who regularly attend meetings such as this fare far better than those who don't.
Make the Smart Choice
We’d be delighted if you chose us to help you start anew. But we also know that different people have different needs, and our program isn’t for everyone. What’s most important is finding a treatment center that is professional and safe, and gives you the tools you need to thrive in your new life. Good luck, and Godspeed!
29th April 2019
If you’re here, you’ve probably heard about Iboga’s remarkable utility in treating all manner of addictions. You’re curious about how this substance works, and concerned about the risks associated with a psychoactive substance that’s illegal in some countries.
If you’re looking to know more about the fascinating history of Iboga, click here, but if you’d like to learn everything you need to know about Ibogaine’s use in treating addiction, keep reading!
How It Works
Iboga’s powerful addiction treatment properties were discovered by an American named Howard Lotsof. As a 19-year-old addict, Mr. Lotsof experimented with psychedelic substances to treat his addiction and discovered that a single dose of Iboga brought an end to the physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal, and dramatically reduced his cravings for drugs. What did it feel like? In the words of one recovered addict:
"As it starts to take effect I feel an intense wave of energy emanating from the center of my chest that permeates my entire body. This euphoric state also brings me instantaneous relief from the discomfort I was feeling after going without heroin for almost 24 hours.
With my withdrawal symptoms completely gone, I am perplexed by the state of clarity I am in while seeing the most profound stream of visual phenomena. I am also filled with a sense of awe at the potential for a life free of heroin. Emotional memories force me to deal with some of the deep subconscious guilt I have repressed for years.
This powerful state persisted for over 12 hours. After remaining at the clinic for a week I was allowed to return home and over the next six months felt almost no cravings whatsoever."
While scientists are not exactly sure how Iboga works, they know it interacts with sigma receptors and 5-HT2A receptors in the brain. Sigma receptors are “opioid receptors” that are activated by drugs like heroin. Researchers theorize that Iboga lightly stimulates them, helping to ease withdrawal symptoms, much like how a nicotine patch helps smokers treat nicotine withdrawal. 5-HT2A receptors are the ones typically activated by psychedelic drugs, and it’s believed that activating them helps to treat depression, while also disrupting thought patterns, allowing the user freedom to break free from negative thoughts and self-destructive patterns of behaviour.
Iboga has been proven to successfully disrupt addiction for a period of 3-6 months for individuals who habitually use opioids, opiates, and stimulants. It resets the brain to a pre-addiction state, and helps cleanse all traces of drugs from your body. However, it is not a magic bullet for treating addiction, and those who hope to lead healthy lives must put in the work to prepare themselves for a life free from addiction. For those addicted to Benzos and alcohol, Iboga therapy can provide substantial benefits, but it cannot help with the withdrawal process.
Iboga use: the risks
Iboga use is not without its risks. We certainly don’t want to sugar-coat the fact that there have been some deaths associated with iboga therapy. Between 1990 and 2008 a total of 19 deaths were associated with Iboga use, and the rate of death during treatment episodes was 1 in 427 (for comparison, the rate of death in Methadone treatment was 1 in 364). Deaths during treatment have mainly been associated with bradycardia (slowing of the heart), liver problems, seizures, and lethal interactions with other substances. Another thing to consider is that Iboga therapy generally restores addicts to a “novice state”, meaning that following treatment their tolerance for substances is significantly lower than it had been, thus increasing the risk of overdose.
So yes, Iboga therapy carries significant risks. But should these risks stop people from seeking it out? The first thing to bear in mind is the dangerous nature of addiction. In the United States, 115 people die every day from the misuse of opiates and opioids. And overdoses are on the rise, in fact, they increased a full 54% in American cities during 2017, according to government studies. Not to mention the fact that drug users suffer from diseases like HIV and Hepatitis at far greater rates than the general population. Individuals suffering from a substance use disorder are 4 times more likely to die from unnatural causes than the average person.
The dangers of heroin addiction are so horrifying that the risk of using Methadone, a treatment associated with a higher rate of death than Iboga, is considered acceptable by doctors and governments the world over. And when comparing the risks of Iboga and Methadone, it should be noted that many of the deaths associated with Iboga use have occurred when the drug was self-administered and used without any degree of medical supervision. Methadone treatment, in spite of being prescribed and administered by medical professionals, is still more dangerous than Iboga!
While risks are inherent in any treatment of addiction, many of them can be minimized, or even eliminated by taking proper precautions. With Iboga, the first step is to find out if it is safe for you.
Individuals suffering from heart defects and other heart problems are at the greatest risk. Those with impaired liver or kidney function, some psychological disorders, and epilepsy should probably avoid using Iboga. You can see our inclusion and exclusion criteria here, and while we are firm believers in the efficacy of Iboga therapy, we recognize that it can’t work for everyone.
At Iboga Tree Healing House, we provide you with the safest possible setting for Iboga therapy. Unlike the vast majority of Iboga clinics, we have a medical doctor in-house, rather than on-call or at a nearby hospital. We have a nursing team that is based on a 1:1 nurse per patient ratio. We insist on taking a full medical history prior to treatment, as well as a full set of lab results including a full blood panel, liver function analysis, ECG/EKG and more. We also monitor our patients with an EKG machine during treatment. Furthermore, every member of our medical team is ACLS certified by the American Heart Association.
The safety of our clients is our number one priority, and we feel that by taking every precaution, we can offer Iboga therapy that minimizes the health problems associated with treatment and eliminates the risk of death.
24th April 2019
There are no quick fixes or shortcuts for "curing" an addiction. Fortunately, though, we have more alternative therapy options available for treating addiction than ever before. For those looking to break the cycle, there are options out there that are far safer than methadone and far more effective than going “cold turkey”. Let’s look at three addiction treatment options which have already helped thousands of individuals overcome addiction.
Iboga (ibogaine) is a psychoactive substance found in Tabernathe Iboga, a West African shrub. It has been used in the healing ceremonies and coming of age rituals of the African Bwiti religion for thousands of years. In small doses, Ibogaine acts as a mild stimulant, and in larger doses, it puts the user into a psychedelic state. Many people have found that when used in large doses it can significantly reduce opiate withdrawal symptoms and help with substance-related cravings.
The substance acts as an “addiction-interrupter”, by taking receptors in an addict’s brain back to pre-addiction levels and significantly reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. A Mexican study found that after a single treatment with Ibogaine, two-thirds of the heroin addicts treated went a month without relapsing, and 4 of the study’s 30 participants were still sober one year later. A Brazilian study which experimented with ibogaine treatment and psychotherapy on 75 individuals addicted to cocaine, crack, alcohol and cannabis found that the “results suggest that the use of ibogaine supervised by a physician and accompanied by psychotherapy can facilitate prolonged periods of abstinence, without the occurrence of fatalities or complications.”
Ibogaine use does have side-effects and risks, including ataxia, seizures, and heart complications such as arrhythmia. It would be irresponsible to recommend its use without the supervision of a medical professional. But as part of a treatment plan that includes psychotherapy and medical supervision, it is a powerful tool for those battling addiction issues.
Kambo is the secretion of an Amazonian frog which has been used in traditional Shamanistic ceremonies and medical procedures in Brazil and Peru. The substance is secreted by the frog to ward off predators, but medical practitioners obtain it by capturing the amphibian, tying it to sticks, tapping its head, and scraping it off the frog’s back with a stick before releasing the animal unharmed. Practitioners traditionally make small surface burns on the patient's arms or back, and apply a drop of the substance with a piece of bark or a stick. Kambo then makes its way into the user’s lymphatic system, resulting in an intense head-rush and, often, a bout of vomiting.
The active ingredients in Kambo are peptides, protein-like molecules that neurons in the brain use to communicate with each other. The peptides found in Kambo have shown potential for treatment of various diseases, including cancer, auto-immune disorders, and inflammation. The peptides in Kambo have been reported to help people suffering from depression, addiction to drugs and alcohol, and various mood disorders. They are extremely helpful with detoxification and are becoming more and more popular around the world. At Tabula Rasa Retreat, we find that Kambo is extremely effective at preparing our patients for addiction treatment and helping them to have the safest, smoothest, and best-integrated experience possible.
Addiction is often linked to an array of mental health problems, ranging from depression to PTSD. Many substance abusers begin down the road to addiction attempting to treat feelings and symptoms of mental illness with alcohol and drugs. A wide variety of holistic treatment options have become popular in recent years, and more and more treatment professionals are becoming convinced of their efficacy.
Meditation and mindfulness are two powerful techniques that recovering addicts can use reconfigure their brains in the aftermath of addiction. By adapting and reshaping neural networks through these forms of therapy, those in recovery can break harmful patterns of thought and behavior, and transition toward healthier modes of living. Mindfulness, meditation, yoga and massage are all proven to reduce levels of cortisol, a harmful stress-related hormone, boost the immune system, and increase levels of energy.
Equine therapy is another holistic practice which is growing in popularity. A recent article in Psych Central lists the benefits of the practice, which include building trust and fostering healthy relationships. Because horses are pack animals who are extremely sensitive to emotional cues, patients can learn to build relationships based on positivity and mutual trust.
Other forms of Holistic Therapy, such as Kundalini Yoga, breath-work, drumming, and light therapy can have extremely helpful impacts on well-being following the detox process. Maintaining a sober and healthy lifestyle requires those in recovery to rebuild themselves emotionally and spiritually, and techniques such as these can help individuals connect with themselves and others, while positively addressing their traumas and the roots of their addiction.
Some in the field, like the author of this piece in Psychology Today, would argue that holistic treatments are not evidence-based, and have not been proven to work on their own. But even the most avowed skeptics would admit that these practices “may be helpful so long as they are used as adjuncts to evidence-based practices.” This approach is the foundation upon which Iboga Tree Healing house is built.
Why alternative therapy is a foundational aspect of addiction treatment at Iboga Tree Healing House
We are firmly convinced that these alternative addiction treatment modalities can have profound beneficial effects on those in recovery. Indeed, we have seen their effects firsthand on countless clients. Iboga Tree Healing house bridges the gap between conventional and holistic therapies like 12-step, Smart recovery, CBT, and counseling. At Iboga Tree healing House, we strongly believe that these therapies can and should be used in tandem with traditional addiction treatment modalities to heal the addicted and prepare them for living healthy, positive and productive lives.
23rd April 2019
With the costs and wait times for addiction treatment skyrocketing in Western countries, many addicts are seeking addiction rehab and treatment overseas. It’s a trend that has been picking up steam over the past few years and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. The question is: Why?
Let’s look at five of the main reasons overseas addiction rehab options are growing increasingly popular with every passing year.
1. Value For Money
Luxury treatment centers with pools, exercise facilities, and comfortable rooms are an ideal setting for adapting to a life free from drugs and alcohol. But high-end rehab centers in the USA charge up to $100,000 for a 30-day inpatient program, while medications that help with withdrawals and detox can add substantially to that already hefty price. In the UK, luxury treatment facilities charge as much as £60,000 per month. Many people seeking treatment find that they can venture abroad to receive a higher standard of care along with more comfortable accommodations for the same price (or significantly cheaper)!
2. A Change of Scenery
Successful treatment for addiction transforms the addict into an entirely different person. Many people find that getting away from the stressors, triggers and routines of their previous life is immensely helpful in developing a positive attitude and healthy habits. A new place far away from past trauma and stress can be ideal for rebuilding one’s identity as a functional and capable individual who can deal with cravings and withdrawals in a positive manner and break free from the negative mind frames of addiction. Furthermore, a beautiful setting and warm weather can be truly therapeutic, allowing those in treatment to feel more relaxed and comfortable than they do at home.
3. Alternative Treatment Options
Many alternative treatments for addiction aren’t legally available in the US and UK. Some medicines, like Ibogaine (a substance which has been found to aid in addiction treatment by independent studies in Mexico, Brazil, and Europe), are illegal in the US and illegal to provide in the UK. Rather than obtaining it illegally and using it on one’s own (a process with profound health risks), people who would like to take advantage of the benefits of Ibogaine or other addiction treatment alternatives can travel abroad and use the substance in a controlled environment, surrounded by medical professionals who are actively monitoring their experience.
Furthermore, many treatment centers in the West are overburdened by demand and have little time for holistic treatment options and the aftercare that is essential for lifelong recovery. Iboga Tree Healing House offers a wide variety of holistic treatments, ranging from Kundalini Yoga to equine assisted therapy designed to build willpower, focus and the ability to persevere in difficult situations. They even offer a weekly Skype support session that is available to clients for the rest of their lives. Being treated as an individual and not a wallet or a number is another reason why people are choosing overseas treatment options.
While society’s perceptions of addiction are shifting towards seeing the affliction as a medical problem rather than an individual’s failure of morality or willpower, addiction still carries a stigma. Because of this, many people seeking treatment would like to maintain their privacy in this difficult time. While most centers in one’s home maintain a reasonable level of confidentiality, being in a different country adds an additional layer of privacy to an experience that many would prefer to keep from colleagues and loved ones. This is especially important for addicts from places like Asia and the Middle East, where addiction issues are even more heavily stigmatised than in the West. Being treated as a respected individual by discreet professionals can dramatically improve self-esteem, and knowing that a private issue will remain private can provide peace of mind to those seeking treatment.
5. Waiting Times
While wait times for short-term detox programs in the US, Canada, and the UK are generally fairly short, the wait for longer-term treatments and inpatient beds can last for weeks and even months. Dwayn Cameron, a Canadian addictions expert notes that “When it comes to addictions, there's a catch phrase we use that you need to strike when the iron is hot… We need to have it so there isn't a wait time because wait times become life and death.” Cameron also notes that the period between detox and treatment is the time when addicts are at their most vulnerable. A 2016 study found that wait times for publicly funded addiction rehab programs in the US could be longer than one year, and that over one million Americans were seeking, but not receiving, treatment. This trend is especially troubling because a 2013 study by the Journal of Addiction Medicine found that addicts awaiting treatment for opioid addiction faced an increased risk of death.
For the families of people seeking inpatient treatment, cheaper options abroad can be a necessary and often life-saving choice. It’s definitely the saddest reason that international rehab facilities are becoming more popular.
Many people are seeking treatment abroad because of innovative methods that offer addicts a better chance at a long, healthy and happy life. Others are doing it to maintain privacy, or avoid the stigma that comes with addiction in countries where the disease is still viewed as a shameful personal failing. Then there are those who find addiction rehab abroad to be their last resort to get the help they need before tragedy strikes. No matter your reasons, we’d recommend you consider Iboga Tree Healing House as an option which can provide the care you need!