Ibogaine’s Emerging Role in Alternative Recovery
It’s been called “ten years of therapy in one night” and has clinical psychologists scratching their heads even as alternative rehab clinics continue to pop up in Mexico, Canada, and Europe offering treatment. But this unusually effective answer to opiate addiction is not a revolutionary pharmaceutical or a twelve step program. It’s called Ibogaine, derived from a psychoactive root bark from West Africa, and it’s an illegal drug in the United States.Introduced to the West during the 1960s counter culture movement, the substance comes from the Gabon region of Africa where the Bwiti peoples have used the root for medicine and spiritual visions for centuries.
The drug is “Schedule One” in the US, which declares it illegal for use or possession due to possible abuse and no medicinal benefits. However, the success stories of heroin addicts finally finding a long-sought release from their addictions are flourishing in the underground and online communities.
Patients who undergo Ibogaine treatment report very thorough life review experiences that seem to put their addictive habits into perspective and break the cycle. Dr Carl Anderson of McLean Hospital, Virginia speculated in an essay on the root’s anti-addictive properties that addiction is related to a disruption in the brain’s two hemispheres and that the psychoactive experience of the Ibogaine root may cause a “bihemispheric reintegration.”
While the scientific and medical community continue to debate the drug’s legitimacy as a means of clinical treatment, clinics and recovering addicts are certainly convinced of its therapeutic value. New lab studies in Europe hope to shed some scientific light on the substance but until results can be proven and approved via the proper legal channels, experts don’t expect to see it used as a treatment in the US.