Substance abuse is a complex affliction. It exists at the outer edges of scientific knowledge for effective treatment and recovery. Its causes can elude scientific diagnosis, and can stem just as much from the individual’s emotional and psychological makeup as it does from a chemical reaction to substances. What if these patients were able to see into their own life experiences, allowing them to understand the roots of their addiction and giving them a liberating perspective on the possibilities for an addiction-free future? Fortunately, a new type of addiction therapy is emerging that harnesses the life-transforming power of psychedelic experience to help people overcome their destructive addictions.
The psychedelic substance at the forefront of this new treatment is Ibogaine. Iboga is a chemical compound derived from the African shrub Tabernanthe iboga, which has been used for centuries in West African culture for healing and initiation rites. The dissociative property of Ibogaine is the quality that gives the individual a more abstracted perspective on their own emotions and life experiences, and enables a self-therapeutic mindset for healing.
What makes ibogaine therapy special is that the intensity of the psychedelic experience the user has allows for levels of self-reflection that are normally inaccessible. Described as being similar to LSD but stronger and longer lasting, ibogaine takes patients out of their normal state of mind. Subsequently, they report being able to look at their past experiences, behavior patterns, and choices in an entirely new light.
The power to treat addictions holistically and at their source is one huge advantage that ibogaine therapy offers. Patients report being able to recontextualize their life experiences in a way that enables healing. This varies from traditional methods of addiction counseling and treatment in that it re-writes the patient’s self-narrative in a way that is positive and seeks a bright future, rather than solidifying a narrative of moral failure.
Additionally, ibogaine has an uncanny ability to drastically reduce or completely eliminate withdrawal symptoms in even the most serious of addicts after just a single dose. Hardcore alcoholics and opiate abusers often experience the horror of physical withdrawal symptoms during the detox period, even before addressing the underlying emotional and psychological factors of their addiction. Ibogaine patients report that these symptoms vanish after their treatment, allowing space for self-reflection following their psychedelic experience, without relying on further prescription medication.
Conventional Addiction Recovery
Traditional methods of addiction treatment have done a world of good for many people, yet some addicts are not able to change their life around after their experience with traditional treatment. In many cases, the addiction is replaced with a dependency on “recovery” drugs, which is a step in the right direction, but far from a total cure.
If the conventional treatment cannot diagnose or solve the more elusive factors of mental illness that surpass empirical understanding, then the preceding emotional and psychological barriers to recovery remain standing. In this case, patients can often relapse even after being clean for months or years. Groups such as AA and NA are able to help recovering addicts with ongoing group support, but some people might not identify with the theistic undertones and self-deprecating narrative that AA and NA espouse. For many addicts, these traditional methods are just not enough to identify and resolve the true source of their addiction.
A New Way to Heal Addiction
Ibogaine treatment centers are opening across the world and are equipped with medically trained staff who have undergone extensive pre-screening, in addition to trained recovery coaches who help people undertake and integrate their journey. There is no magic pill to end addiction in every person, but properly guided ibogaine therapy with a patient who is truly committed to ending their addiction is as close to a miracle cure as the world has ever seen.