The effects of Ibogaine and importance of aftercare

Ibogaine, an entheogenic alkaloid extracted from plants in the Apocynacea family or synthesized from the precursor compound voacangine, has shown promise as an effective interrupter of opiate dependency. Clinical studies have demonstrated Ibogaine’s ability to attenuate symptoms of acute opiate withdrawal, reduce drug cravings, and alleviate depression. Research studies show these effects to last longer than 30 days, and additionally that many people treated with Ibogaine maintain abstinence from opiates and other drugs for much longer periods. A small subset of individuals treated with ibogaine will fall back into opiate dependency within days or weeks following treatment and some will relapse after a few months following treatment. Looking at both clinical and anecdotal evidence, it appears that Ibogaine is not a “magic cure” for addiction, but highly effective at helping to facilitate long periods of abstinence and recovery.

One point that seems to be ubiquitous with discussions of ibogaine as an addiction treatment is the necessity of follow-up counseling and aftercare to support the ibogaine detoxification process.  There are several reasons that intensive therapy and aftercare are critical to a successful treatment outcome. Part of the effectiveness of Ibogaine is attributed to its entheogenic effect. Many users of Ibogaine report experiencing a waking dream state where life events relevant to their addictions and traumas are replayed and reprocessed, often in a meaningful way that allows resolution of core issues. Others have difficult experiences that trigger repressed issues to come to surface. Intensive psychotherapy is critical to helping patients frame these visionary experiences (positive or negative) in a constructive manner and to integrate them into a new world view.

Ibogaine and its metabolites are theorized to promote nueroplasticity (a state highly conducive to changes in brain connections and neurons) after detoxification. This period is thought to last 1-4 months following Ibogaine administration. It is during this time that newly constructive behavioral patterns, interests, ideas, and ways of thinking can be developed if the clients expose themselves to the correct environment. Many clients seeking Ibogaine treatment suffer from emotional instability and/or are coming from broken homes, abusive relationships, long-term patterns of criminal thinking, and replacement of fulfilling hobbies and activities with drug-seeking or drug-using behaviors.  A well-crafted and structured aftercare program can be integral in providing structure, introducing purposeful and rewarding self-care activities, positive reinforcement of new behaviors, and effective post-Ibogaine psychotherapy during this period of enhanced brain plasticity. For many, the life and self-care skills adapted and practiced in an Ibogaine aftercare program following detoxification become the foundation for a new way of living.

Much has been written about ibogaine as an effective treatment for opiate dependency and scientific studies have confirmed its efficacy as an addiction treatment.  To maximize the effectiveness of an Ibogaine detoxification, it is highly suggested that post-detox psychotherapy and/or an intensive aftercare program (ideally with a holistic approach that considers the multi-layered complexity of the individual) be sought after.  

(References: The American Journal on Addictions, “Treatment of Acute Opiate Withdrawal with Ibogaine,” The New York Academy of Sciences, “Ibogaine: Complex Pharmacokinetics, Concerns for Safety, and Preliminary Efficacy Measures”)