If you are someone who is struggling with addiction, and the traditional routes of rehab and recovery are not working, there’s a very good chance that in your search for alternative ways to detox and recover from your addiction, you will come across the hallucinogenic substance ibogaine. Derived from the African shrub Tabernanthe iboga, ibogaine is a potent psychedelic that has gained a reputation for being one of the strongest and longest-lasting entheogens.1 But beyond its extreme psychedelic effects, it’s also becoming increasingly well-known as an addiction interrupter that helps people dealing with addiction reorient their lives in a substance-free direction. And it offers a miraculous side effect: the elimination of withdrawal symptoms for even the hardest drug abusers.
Yet the world would probably still be largely unaware of ibogaine’s unparalleled effectiveness for substance abusers if it were not for the efforts of Howard Lotsof. Lotsof became addicted to heroin at a young age, but then stumbled into an ibogaine experience as a teen and devoted his life from then on to promoting and legitimizing ibogaine therapy.
From Addiction to Transformation
“Afterwards, I was walking and I looked at this tree, and as I looked at it I realized I no longer had any fear of death. Also that I was no longer addicted to narcotics.”
– Howard Lotsof, describing his first ibogaine experience
When a young Lotsof came across ibogaine in the early 1960s, he thought he was tuning in for just another wild psychedelic ride. But after a long trip filled with incredible visions and heightened levels of self-reflection, Lotsof realized that he had experienced no withdrawal symptoms during the entire experience.2 He was so impressed with the drug’s effectiveness that he began a lifelong journey to share this treasure with as many other people struggling with addiction as possible.
Lotsof’s passion for promoting ibogaine therapy took him into both the underground of addiction recovery (due to ibogaine’s legal classification) and into mainstream science. Under the radar of the authorities, Lotsof worked with a group called The Junkie Bond to assist people who wanted to break their addiction through self-treatments with ibogaine. These guerrilla ibogaine sessions and the word-of-mouth sharing of information reinforced his belief in the efficacy of ibogaine and helped to educate others that an obscure psychedelic from West Africa was incredibly effective at treating acute substance addiction. He also produced one of the earliest and most comprehensive sites on the internet about ibogaine, The Ibogaine Dossier, which helped the word spread even further.3
Advocating for Ibogaine Therapy
Lotsof’s efforts in the scientific and medical world equalled or even surpassed his underground work. In Amsterdam, Lotsof and his partner Norma worked with the National Institute on Drug Abuse and helped to generate research that lead to many peer-reviewed scientific publications and an eventual U.S. Food and Drug Administration clinical trial. He also wrote, co-authored, and funded over 60 scientific papers on ibogaine that paved the way for ibogaine to be studied and respected by scientists and addiction recovery specialists worldwide.
Harold Lotsof died in 2010 at the age of 66, but his influence as a champion of ibogaine in the Western scientific world is unmatched. Today, there are scores of ibogaine treatment centers all over the world (mostly in countries where the drug is not classified as illegal), and there is a wealth of scientific studies, personal accounts, and detailed information about ibogaine and its use for treating addiction. Lotsof was a true pioneer, and his tireless commitment to promoting ibogaine therapy has not only helped thousands of past, present, and future addicts, but also helped to push psychedelic research and therapy back into scientific legitimacy.