Swimming toward freedom

There is a deep truth and tragedy to life, and I'll spill it like this...All we love, all we value, all we hope to be, all we once were, all we knew and all we will ever know, will be stripped from us. All our friends, family, possessions, and even our body will wither and vanish. As this process unfolds, we will experience the pain of having the carpet pulled from beneath our feet. And as twisted as it can seem, this is how the universe speaks truth. By taking away the physical world bit by bit, the universe cleverly points us toward the non-physical truth of existence.   

What is physical is temporary. And we suffer when we tie our primary sense of happiness to that which is temporary. Let's say you tie your primary sense of happiness to your closest friends. You think, "as long as I have my friends I will be happy." In this case, as you lose your friends one by one, so goes your happiness. Friends are people that you share happiness with but when you tie it to them, the rope will break, and suffering will happen. As a pretty damn vain person I can relate to tying happiness to physical appearance: “As long as I look a certain way, I will be happy." At some point, looks will fade. the rope will break, and suffering will happen. 

After experiencing this cycle again and again we can wake up and realize that tying our happiness to the physical world makes us suffer. When we realize this, the spiritual path becomes an option. By spiritual, I'm referring to that which is not bound by the physical world. And what might that be? Well, how about this moment? 

Really look - not at the circumstances in the moment, but at the moment itself. Is it physical? Can it be touched, disturbed or broken? As far as I can tell, the nature of this moment is not bound by physical laws. It is stable, constant, and unwavering. The spiritual process guides our intention from being about the physical to being the non-physical( it does not discount the physical world, but rather teaches us to relate to it in a way that will not cause suffering).

When this leap is made, we can rest in the warmth and stability of the non-physical, while playing in the temporary physical world to whatever extent we want. The sweet spot unveils itself when we hold the physical content of life within the non-physical context of this moment. In this space, we have the freedom to risk everything and lose nothing. 

So how do we make this leap? Well, I can tell a story about how the process feels to me, but everyone is unique and will experience the same journey in a different way ....

Let's say that after a series of unfortunate events you have been sentenced to life in prison on Alcatraz island. On Alcatraz, your have to deal with the brutal day-to-day suffering that accompanies being an inmate. It's unsafe, it's lonely, and you're treated like shit . One morning at breakfast, you notice a lapse in security that gives you an opportunity to escape and swim to freedom. At that moment, the possibility of getting caught, the sharks, the freezing water all become secondary; you're done with suffering in prison, so you swim. You choose freedom at all costs. 

In my experience the spiritual process is a bit like this. When we continually find ourselves suffering or getting caught in the boredom or disenchantment of the physical world, we look for another option. A way out. And when the urgency becomes strong enough, we will risk everything for freedom. We will swim through the inner waters of fear, grief, and self-doubt until we arrive at an absolute truth. It doesn't matter what comes up, we will drift wholeheartedly through it toward the boundless truth of life. This process of urgently moving through muddy water towards truth is a profound spiritual path …

So when is it time to go for it? How much longer will you wait before you start swimming?

Healing at Inscape Recovery

I was once in a rehab in California where a counselor -- speaking about the tranquility of our surroundings and the friendly people within -- remarked, “If you’re not happy here, I suggest you take a good long look in the mirror because you’re not gonna find a nicer place than this.” Well, great! I was still miserable.

When deciding on a name for our program, we chose “Inscape” because it describes a person’s internality, or “inner landscape.” What we foster at Inscape Recovery is a deep exploration of that landscape aimed at inner transformation. This seems like the essential point because, while healing from addiction and emotional distress can be assisted by things like body therapies, lifestyle changes, nutrition and, yes, a serene and supportive environment, ultimately any groundbreaking change entails an internal shift in feeling and perspective.

Until this takes place, it doesn’t seem to matter where you are, what you’re doing or whom you’re surrounded by -- the same dominant feelings that drive your life, if not scrupulously addressed, will surface with a vengeance again and again.

This is not a new concept, of course. Addiction has long been recognized, by most thoughtful people at least, as merely a symptom of deeper issues. We appear to develop addictions not because we are by nature obsessed with drugs, internet or shopping, but because such things come to seem like the easiest, best (maybe only) way to adjust an internal sense of discontentment or discomfort. At Inscape, we view all emotional healing in this same context: problems such as depression and anxiety, like addiction, are fed by patterns of being that may be temporary coping mechanisms, but which keep us stuck in the same boring states of mind. Creating an internal shift requires uprooting these patterns, little by little, diving at the truth that’s underneath them, and connecting better with who we are when our obsessions aren’t dictating our view of reality.

This is not an easy thing to do, of course. I am a former heroin addict who has been doing this work of self-overhaul for three years, and I still sometimes feel the pull of my addictive impulses like an undertow. Despite this, I’ve created a tapestry of healthy things around my addiction that makes my life enjoyable. I have a good social network, I spend a lot of time outdoors and I have a consistent spiritual practice -- something that has not only helped me feel calmer but also, based on how I’ve developed so far, gives me hope of continued progress around my emotions, thoughts and ability to navigate my life in a sensible way. I also have the privilege of a fun job that involves working with people like myself -- people with drug addictions and other seekers who arrive here because, on some level, they feel inspired to try another way. Finally, I continue to do occasional medicine work, a practice that helps me to clarify areas of uncertainty and get a reset to fundamental internal states of curiosity, intentionality and peace.

At Inscape, we offer a rich menu of activities to help people see a horizon much broader than any single addiction, compulsion or obsession. This involves physical healing (through diet, exercise and supplementation), psychotherapy, medicine work, classes in things like yoga, horticulture, music and exploring addiction, and the presence of a thereapeutic community that includes the Inscape staff, its participants and, frequently, the surrounding community of Malinalco.

By the time participants are halfway through their program, we are accustomed to seeing an inner change where feelings of vitality, hope and inspiration replace the doldrums. Participants come to feel different -- about their own potential, about the world, about the possibilities out there for living a rich and fulfilling life. They feel the possibility of not just getting by, but thriving.

This is a change that the environment at Inscape helps foster, but which ultimately comes to grow inside the individual -- becoming something they can carry with them, regardless of where in the world they might find themselves. Afterall, wherever you go, there you are.

What Is Addiction?

From The San Francisco Chronicle, May 20, 2019: www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Open-Forum-What-is-addiction-13856770.php

With the nation’s drug problem attracting huge media attention, and having spent 11 years addicted to opiates myself -- now three years clean -- I’ve increasingly come to consider what addiction is, exactly.

That’s to say, why do people become addicted, or what fundamentally causes it? There are plenty of theories on this complicated subject, and my own perspective continues to evolve.

In Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step groups, addiction is widely accepted as a “disease,” though the term is somewhat ambiguous. AA’s original text describes alcoholism as a three-fold problem: a “physical allergy, mental obsession and spiritual malady.” The word “spiritual” always raises a few eyebrows, and its definition may depend on whom you’re talking to. I’m not sure, however, that modern science has a better word for explaining what addiction represents or might represent. As with other matters of personality, it seems to have, in part, an abstract and mysterious quality that eludes things like questionnaires or brain scans.

There is a debate in recovery communities about whether addiction is in fact a primary “disease” or just the product of life experiences – specifically, traumatic events or circumstances whose emotional toll causes people to seek refuge in drugs or other compulsions. While 12-step philosophy does not clearly weigh in on what specifically causes addiction, it approaches addiction as a nebulous and incurable – though potentially manageable – condition, whereas advocates of the trauma theory, led by Dr. Gabor Maté of Canada, say their more scientific view opens the possibility of reversing addiction by addressing an identifiable origin.

But the trauma theory also raises questions. What exactly qualifies as trauma, and why do only some traumatized people become full-blown addicts? Also, why do certain people seem more vulnerable to traumatization? If one explanation is a natural sensitivity, that could bring us back to seeing addiction as also having hereditary or other more obscure causes.

Of course, there have always been those who view addiction as simply a hedonistic impulse or failure of resolve – fair enough, as far as it goes. Most addicted people start on that road because they are enticed by a long-missing sense of pleasure, comfort or self-confidence that the drug or other stimulus brings on. It’s worth noting that, though we tend to hear mostly horror stories about addiction, it can have a paradoxical upside for people who might otherwise feel maladjusted to the world. Maté argues that addiction is often the best choice that can reasonably be expected of people in the face of extreme emotional hardship.

At the same time -- and now we’re really splitting hairs -- 12-step philosophy holds that neither choice nor individual willpower plays any part in addiction whatsoever. Rather, addicts are inherently “powerless” within their own means against a force that eclipses their conscious will. And it may be that addiction is primarily a brain disorder, or the elaborate work of unconscious forces. But then, maybe everything is.

I suspect that to truly understand what addiction is – for me, at least – I would have to experience what it isn’t. My sense is, despite the extensive self-work I have done in recovery, some of the complicated feelings that gave rise to my addiction are still floating around and manifesting in certain, more subtle, ways. In today’s society, where most everyone is supposedly addicted to something (drugs, internet, work, junk food, extreme exercise, whatever) it’s a quaint idea to think of what being truly unaddicted would entail.

However you think it all germinates, addiction does not appear to be a self-standing condition but an outgrowth of common personality problems like obsessiveness and malaise. Such feelings seem to block psychic expansions like intimacy, engagement and fascination. Instead, our cyclonic thoughts grab us up into the same dull patterns, which may feel like the best thing we have going.

With this in mind, considering the question of addiction could be a valuable exercise for anybody, or at least an interesting one. Yet, for people trying to recover from drugs or other problems, it may come down to advice that an old 12-step sponsor told me as an unhappy young philosopher: Recovery is about action. It’s making substantive changes in your life. So tell your intellect I said hello, and you’re not thinking your way outta this one.

The pitfalls of legalizing (and commercializing) entheogens

Ayahuasca and other entheogenic substances have gained widespread interest in the Western world as potential therapeutic agents for healing a wide spectrum of biological, mental, and spiritual diseases. In the United States, psilocybin (the active psychoactive substance in “magic mushrooms”) and MDMA have been given FDA “breakthrough therapy” status for treatment-resistant depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, respectively, while ketamine infusion therapies are being used for treatment of PTSD and chronic pain. Meanwhile, many opiate addicts are seeking reprieve in ibogaine, whose effects include elimination of acute opiate withdrawal symptoms and abatement of post-acute withdrawal symptoms (1). The use of ayahuasca for spiritual growth and to address issues like depression and addiction also continues to rapidly grow.

The irony that these psychedelic substances -- which have been demonized by governments, public policy, and the medical system itself for the last 50 years as dangerous and of no medical utility -- would have the potential to be wonder treatments for conditions that until now have been largely characterized as untreatable or at best manageable, should remain at the forefront of anyone’s mind who chooses to use them.

The type of research being done to promote these tools in the biomedical community and to generate interest from pharmaceutical investment does not properly address how the “psychedelic experience” and high entropy brain states that follow are best leveraged through proper psychotherapeutic support and the sustained, individualized effort toward actualizing their healing potential.

In short, the push to place these adjunctive therapeutic tools into medical legitimacy seems to be largely funneled into pharmaceutical pre-marketing strategies versus a comprehensive picture of how healing with these substances occurs. Lastly, it seems that the government’s agenda of developing sleek, marketable drugs (FDA “breakthrough status” was given for the compound psilocybin, not the mushrooms that contain psilocybin) will limit their access to those who can afford the treatments versus those who are most in need or those most likely to make use of their benefits.  

As potential consumers of these substances, we need to avoid the temptation to identify these compounds as quick-fix medication and look at them as catalyzing agents toward understanding the provenance of our individual “dis-ease.”  For many of us, the origins of our individual disease process are directly related to our programmed worldview and prevailing level of self-awareness. The process of integrating, practicing, and utilizing the information gleaned from the entheogenic experience is where the work and the healing begins. Ayahuasca itself does not heal (parasitic illness are an exception); psilocybin itself does not heal.

These substances will generally reveal to us where our “illness” is rooted, show us the path to healing, and maybe kick us a little ways down the path. The rest of the healing process depends on our willingness and consistent effort to walk through the resolution of traumas, release stuck energies or emotions, and move toward disentanglement with our perceived illness. In other words, the ingested substance is at best 20% of the solution (I’m not discounting the therapeutic benefit of a profound mystical experience here); we are the remaining 80% of the solution.

As with many of our deepest challenges, adaptive change is only achieved through steady, sustained effort and proper support.  If we buy into the pharmaceutical industry marketing of expecting a quick fix or relief of symptoms with minimal to no effort on our part, we will most likely not experience the full capacity for the intrinsic self-healing power that these compounds want us to find.


1) Alper, K., Brown, TK. (2018) Treatment of opioid use disorder with ibogaine: detoxification and drug   use outcomes. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Use: 44, 24-36

Ayahuasca and Substance Addiction Treatment

Ayahuasca is a mixture of mainly two Amazonian plants: the liana Mariri (Banisteriopsis caapi) and the shrub Chacruna (Psychotria viridis). Several studies have shown its effectiveness in the treatment of substance addiction and other mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Its main active ingredient is N, N-dimethyltryptamine or DMT, which boosts serotonin as effectively as some psychiatric medications such as antidepressants.

Originally used in the Amazon jungle in ritual and shamanic contexts, in recent decades ayahuasca has expanded throughout the world. Thousands of people affirm the importance it has had in their personal or spiritual development, in acquiring deeper knowledge of themselves or healing different physical or psychological problems.

Of particular note is the role that ayahuasca has played in the treatment of substance addiction. The transdisciplinary currents of the sciences (where anthropology, psychology, psychiatry, medicine and neurophysiology converge) have been evaluating for decades the therapeutic capacity of the contextualized use of ayahuasca, discovering its potential to interrupt and improve -- and in some cases dissolve -- pathological states such as depression, anxiety or addiction.

Taking ayahuasca not only helps to detoxify the body, reduce the desire for drug consumption and increase body awareness, it also takes the person beyond his or her usual defense mechanisms, facilitating the discovery of new psychological resources and the emergence of therapeutic insights that become essential in the recovery process. (LOIZAGA-VELDER, 2013)

Where other therapeutic strategies for the treatment of addictions have failed, ayahuasca has often succeeded by inducing deeper levels of self-awareness, allowing the individuals to address not only their addiction, but the problems that underlie it.

Joseph Mª Fericgla, anthropologist and ethnopsychiatrist, affirms that during an ayahuasca experience people get in touch with themselves from a different perspective, from which they observe themselves, re-experience the present and historic contents of their emotions, and open the possibility of framing them with a different meaning. In this way, ayahuasca-assisted therapy favors locating the individual in the present, thereby releasing emotional burdens of the past as well as fears and pressures of the future. It also encourages making contact with one's own emotions in a way that allows that person to recognize and understand them from a new perspective, reconfiguring one’s sense of meaning and purpose. Finally, it helps to integrate pieces of inner conflict that can trap a person in constricting thought patterns -- helping to go beyond narrow obsession and opening the door to interesting glimpses of the mystery of one's own existence, asking questions like who am I? and why am I here? (FERICGLA, 2018)

Accordingly, several studies make clear that, in appropriate contexts, ayahuasca has enormous therapeutic potential, confirming its value in the treatment of addictions since it can have profound and lasting effects. (LOIZAGA-VELDER, 2013)

It is necessary to point out the importance of therapeutic support in an adequate integration of the experience, which has a very important influence on the results of the treatment. The aftercare, contention and sense of community provided play a key role in the recovery (or interruption) of the addiction.

At Inscape Recovery we are a small therapeutic community. We receive a maximum of 7 patients at a time, and our staff consists of two doctors, two psychotherapists, a medicine man and medicine women, a nutritionist and a crew of yoga and chi kung instructors, art teachers and body-therapists.

Daily life in the community offers a space for self-observation through the daily tasks that accompany the therapeutic process: preparing breakfast, washing dishes, meeting in the group to integrate our experiences and learnings, sharing songs around the fire, etc.

Our intervention strategy is based on the combination of naturopathic and psychotherapeutic systems with the therapeutic-ceremonial use of ayahuasca. Our goal is not the simple relief of addiction symptoms; through a deep internal exploration, combined with changes to our lifestyle, we identify and break the patterns that have led to substance dependency, achieving a lasting sense of well-being and integrity.


  • FERICGLA, J.M. (2018). Ayahuasca, La realidad detrás de la realidad. Barcelona: Kairós.

  • LOIZAGA-VELDER, ANJA (2013) A Psychotherapeutic View on the Therapeutic Effects of Ritual Ayahuasca Use in the Treatment of Addiction, MAPS Bulletin Special Edition.


Inscape Ibogaine Aftercare Program

The Importance of Ibogaine Aftercare

Though iboga is something of a miraculous plant, this world is not one of panaceas — and iboga is no exception. Iboga is a time-honored medicine from Gabon, Africa, historically used in adulthood initiation rituals. In the United States the 1960’s, iboga was accidentally discovered to have a very peculiar quality: it reverses many of the symptoms of opiate withdrawal, and ultimately helps to revitalize the brain from damage exacted by drug use. In recent years, studies have shown Ibogaine (the medical term for the iboga-extract that is widely used in treatments) to be effective in treating conditions ranging from addiction, to depression, to Parkinson’s Disease.

Yet, while Ibogaine may produce a physically and psychologically profound experience, as a treatment for addiction especially, it is more of a catalyst than a cure. By helping to stave off withdrawals, reset the brain and produce deep levels of introspection, ibogaine may lay the groundwork for life changes seismic enough to break a drug dependency. But one must not underestimate the counterforce of the addiction — “cunning, baffling and powerful,” as they famously say in 12-step groups.

While Ibogaine treatment may create a fresh opportunity to make changes in one’s life, going right back to your old environment after taking ibogaine entails simply re-imprinting your fresh outlook with the same old stuff. More often that not, this will lead the person to a relapse. And therein lies the importance of ibogaine aftercare, which can leverage the precious time of “neuroplasticity” after Ibogaine treatment to create new and healthy habits, to deepen the patient’s personal process, and to help him/her plan for their future in an environment that is safe, supportive and nurturing.

Our approach to Ibogaine Aftercare

Having worked with many Ibogaine patients, we understand that most everyone coming from ibogaine treatment arrives in a very sensitive state of mind and body. We also realize that every ibogaine experience is different, and thus work closely with each patient and their provider to better understand their individual circumstances. Some people take ibogaine and feel renewed almost right away, while others may have more pronounced ups and downs. In each case, we begin the post-ibogaine process with therapies that assist the process of physical detoxification and revitalization. These include sweat lodge, individually-tailored regimens of plant-based supplements, herbal tea, lots of water, healthy diet, physical exercise, various body therapies and, in some cases, Ibogaine boosters.

At the same time, we understand that the immediate post-ibogaine time period is optimal for introducing new habits. To this end, we steer participants away from common default habits like excessive use of technology (participants are asked not to use cell phones for two weeks, except when necessary), excessive smoking (we allow only loose organic tobacco) and processed or sugary foods. Meanwhile, participants are asked to engage in a rigorous program of various body therapies, occupational therapy, thought exercises, intensive psychotherapy, and, later in their stay, medicine work with sacred plants.

Finally, we do not overlook the importance of life planning — even for those who come to aftercare, the path is not over! Constructing a plan for transitioning back home, continuing self-care and pursuing new life opportunities is crucial. To that end, we work closely with each participant to be sure that they are transitioning to a safe environment with a strong sense of direction and purpose.

Holistic Rehab at Inscape Recovery

Traditional Western vs Holistic Rehab

Traditional addiction rehabs have long been based in the 12-step approaches of alcoholics and narcotics anonymous, yet such channels, while effective for some, are not a good fit for every person. For some people, the methods of 12-step do not resonate in any significant way, and may even feel off-putting; among those who are attracted to the 12-step method, many have trouble sticking with the process long enough to reach a place of stability.

Holistic Rehab at Inscape Recovery

At Inscape, we use an holistic model of addiction recovery not because we are convinced that any single alternative is “better” than an avenue like Alcoholics Anonymous — in fact, we fully support 12-step recovery for those who feel inclined to pursue it, as some of us have used that model and experienced its benefits. Rather, the principle reason we work with a holistic model is to address the matter of addiction more thoroughly, using a range of therapies and launching a broader exploration of life that encourages each individual to find their own path. As much as possible, we want participants to feel healthy, stimulated and inspired to do their own seeking, rather than being told that the answer is one thing or another and that’s that.

What Inscape offers…

When the average person shows up for treatment, he/she is hardwired by years of addiction to think, feel and act in certain ways that are deeply ingrained. It's the broader, energetic patterns of addiction that have to be interrupted, and that's where Inscape’s holistic model comes in. We want participants to avoid any obvious swapping of addictions; instead, everything is geared toward a general increase in well-being, no shortcuts. Addiction involves trying to find satisfaction in a single thing. The best remedy seems to be substituting not a different thing but, as much as possible, the "whole thing."

Part of unwinding one’s patterns involves targeting them directly through dietary changes, supplements, exercise and a range of activities designed to stimulate mind and body. To assist this process, we examine ourselves and the broader issue of making conscious choices through psychotherapy and our series on exploring addiction. Also, we offer ceremonies with sacred plants, by far one of the most effective ways to interrupt and redirect the tight mental patterns that feed addictions. Sacred plants take us to the deep and fascinating reaches of our own consciousness, showing us where we’re stuck, revealing new ways to live, and helping us connect with the magic of life.

Rehab for Depression

What is depression and why has it become so pervasive?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is a condition marked by sadness and a loss of interest in activities that a person once enjoyed. Clinical depression tends to differ from normal sadness in that it is more permanent, and may linger independent of any specific trigger or event. People with depression may experience a general low mood or periods of lethargy, disinterest, low self-esteem, changes in sleeping, eating and lifestyle, and/or sadness that last days, weeks or months.

Inscape rehab for depression

It’s hard to say with certainty why depression seems to be so pervasive in modern society, but probably it is a combination of factors. One, quite simply, is the existence of the diagnosis, “depression,” and the tendency of psychological and medical professionals to apply diagnoses like depression to psychological/life issues, along with the widespread desire people have to reach for a pharmaceutical solution — the “quick fix,” as they say.

Widespread depression may also be a function of a society that emphasizes individual competition over family, community and spirituality. Rather than feeling part of some larger purpose, modern individuals increasingly feel alienated, aimless and negatively self-obsessed within a large and complicated world that lacks the more straightforward values, closeness and community support of traditional societies. To some people, modern life may feel like a maze in which they made too many wrong turns or seem perpetually stuck. Of course, while depression may be a societal problem, it is also very much an individual one, with unique and often complex causes within individual cases.

Why are current treatments falling short?

As western medicine races to treat the symptoms of depression, less is being done in the way of exploring its roots. Thus, while pharmaceutical approaches to depression may alleviate some symptoms, at least temporarily, they do very little — unto themselves — toward actually addressing the underlying problem. In the long run, pharmaceutical solutions may have little or no positive effect, and may even worsen depression by depleting certain neurotransmitters, causing dependency and producing side effects.

Our approach to depression

Our approach to depression is multi-pronged. One, we address it on the physical level through natural supplementation, a clean diet and physical exercise. Second, we change our habits — and thereby begin to change our minds. Instead of always reaching for the closest, easiest thing of comfort (but ultimately dissatisfaction) — a cigarette, a cell phone, constant napping, whatever — we encourage people to notice these impulses and, whenever possible, to override them. Simultaneously, we begin to introduce more challenging replacements to these impulses that help to stimulate change, growth and new interests. Beyond that, we initiate a process of self-exploration, using psychotherapy, various body therapies, and medicine plants aimed at deeper self-recognition and new psychic and spiritual openings that bring us to recognize and expand a little beyond the self-entrapment of depression. And all of this we do within the context of a close therapeutic community aimed at nurturing authenticity, social bonds, interpersonal respect and feelings of self-worth.

Could Addiction and Mental Illness have the Same Cause?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 20.2 million adults had a substance disorder in the United States in 2014, and of those almost 40% had co-occurring mental illness — a much higher rate of mental illness than that of the general population. This suggests that addiction often arises out of deeper or more complicated psychological factors.

I would argue, in fact, that all addictions arise out of a deeper psychological rift. And also that the reverse is true (and this is a somewhat more radical idea): that addiction is invariably part and parcel of a psychological illness, even when that illness doesn’t manifest as an obvious compulsion.

Rehab for Depression

What is the overlap? Common psychological problems -- such as depression, anxiety and obsession -- are conditions that, much like addiction, entail being trapped in mental feedback loops. We worry, we obsess, we bemoan past events or worry about future ones, and so remain stuck in agitation or malaise (and in the case of addiction, simultaneously obsessed with the next fix). We implode into these thought patterns and thus become disconnected from things and people, and cease to feel curious, engaged -- alive.

This is, admittedly, a somewhat “spiritual” interpretation of addiction and mental illness -- which is to say, looking at it as a deeper energetic problem, and not just a symptom of incorrect biochemistry.

At the same time, all mental illnesses (including addiction), both grow and (later) manifest in social, behavioral, psychological and physiological ways. And thus, treating any mental illness or personality problem has to consider the entire spectrum of the person. Which means restoring the physical brain and body through proper nutrition, supplementation and exercise, while also pushing to create psychic openings through new habits, psychotherapy and other forms of introspection, and various avenues of exploration.

This is the formula we use at Inscape not only as a treatment for addiction and ibogaine aftercare, but as a treatment for depression and anxiety, or for any mental illness or personality issue. Because, in the end, we are not treating any specific condition, but the person who is afflicted. This approach acknowledges the realness and seriousness of a given problem, but also its personal nature, as well as the individual’s (perhaps latent) power to boldly confront it, crumble its stranglehold and reach toward dimensions beyond.

Sources: www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/substance-use-and-mental-health/index.shtml

Master Plants and Community Therapy

 Less than 100 years ago, master plants were a resource reserved only for the cultures in which they were originally used, or for those who had the means and gall to visit remote places where such plants were potentially accessible.

 Iboga, botanically known as Tabernanthe Iboga, comes from the Bwiti culture in Gabon, Africa, where it has been used since time immemorial, in rituals where the whole community takes part.
                                                                                                                                               This is very different from the rituals of western psychotherapy, where the job involves meetings in an office between two people who do not know each other, where specific roles are established for each one, and where a therapeutic relationship is created in exchange for money.

In our culture, where many people are more isolated and have less community structure than is typically found in traditional human societies, modern psychotherapy may have significant merits. However, it is a rarity in human history as something that began in the industrialized west and has been used for scarcely more than 100 years. Before Sigmund Freud developed the “talking cure” in the late 19th century, the basic dynamics of modern psychotherapy had no documented history of use whatsoever.

In Gabon’s culture of Iboga, by contrast, both mental and soul problems are understood as problems of group mismatch, and the solution is obtainable only through work with the whole community.

Beginning in the mid-20th century, plant medicines like Iboga and Ayahuasca began to spread outside of their origins and into modern settings. In the 1960’s, American doctor Howard Lotsof accidentally discovered -- after recreationally ingesting the plant during his days as a heroin addict -- that iboga had the astonishing effect of abating or even eliminating opiate withdrawals. Later, the Chilean-American psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo began using Ibogaine and Ayahuasca in psychotherapy sessions, relating his experiences with these plants in several books including, Ayahuasca: The Creeper Of The Celestial River, and The Healing Journey: New Approaches to Consciousness.   

Ibogaine, the medically-used derivative of iboga, produces what is known as a oneirophrenic state, similar to that of a dream. Ibogaine is not a panacea, though it has the potential to significantly reduce the addictive cravings through physical changes and the deep journey of introspection it brings on.
                                                                                                                                               To think that the effectiveness of addiction treatment must be complete abstinence is a naive way of understanding addiction. Increasingly, the standard used today relates to the broader quality of life. Though abstinence or level of use may of course be a factor that is considered, a person’s psychopathology usually depends more fundamentally on psychosocial circumstances than on the use of or abstinence from a specific substance. Therefore, a great and important phase of recovery lies not only in the work with the master plant, but in the personal work that follows. And a big part of that work is not only addressing the inner conflicts that lead to substance abuse, but also growing and nurturing social connections.

To be supported, contained and reinforced in the journey of recovery is decisive. Ibogaine rescues your soul intact, but only you can do the work that remains.