Using ibogaine for opiate detox
Prescription narcotics and heroin are opioid drugs derived from the opium poppy plant.
These drugs bind to opioid receptors in the brain, effectively blocking pain and producing a calming and pleasant result. When abused, users may experience a euphoric effect, or “high,” when dopamine (one of the neurotransmitters responsible for pleasure) levels are increased in the brain.
Ibogaine is among the substances that may be used to address opiate addiction. There is some controversy surrounding its use due to its illegal status in the US. In order to understand its place in opiate addiction treatment, it’s important to understand how opiates work in the body.
Opioids are considered highly addictive as users develop a tolerance, and even physical and psychological dependency to them, when they are used regularly over a period of time. Opioids may quickly become the focus of obsession, negatively affecting health, work, school or family obligations, and interpersonal relationships.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls prescription drug abuse an epidemic, as 44 people die in America every day from a prescription opioid overdose. In fact, drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death in the United States.
Drug abuse costs American society $181 billion a year in health care and legal costs as well as lost workplace production, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports. Over 2 million American adults aged 12 or older were addicted to opioid prescription drugs in 2012, and another 467,000 were addicted to heroin, as published by NIDA.
Addiction is a chronic, complex and relapsing brain disease that is highly treatable. Opioid abuse and dependency are commonly treated with psychotherapies and 12-step programs, often after a period of detox. Opioid drugs make chemical changes in the brain, and the first step in recovery is to reach a healthy and stable physical balance, often with the aid of medications during detox.
- Medically assisted detox is performed in a safe and supervised environment, and it seeks to manage the uncomfortable flu-like symptoms and emotional side effects, including anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, depression, and irritability, that accompany opioid withdrawal. During medical detox, partial opioid agonists such as buprenorphine or long-acting opioid narcotics like methadone are commonly used, in order to slowly taper off opioid drugs in a controlled manner.
- Partial agonists and opioids with long half-lives stay in the system longer. At low doses, they can help keep cravings and withdrawal symptoms to a minimum. These drugs are still opioid narcotics, however, with the potential for diversion and abuse. Researchers have long been searching for alternative medications or methods to aid in substance abuse treatment. Ibogaine is potentially a drug that may help circumvent compulsive drug use behaviors, essentially resetting the brain as it relates to substance abuse and staving off withdrawal symptoms.
- Acute phase: This starts within 1-2 hours of ingestion and lasts 4-8 hours. Visions and hallucinations occur in a “waking dream” format that can be emotionally intense.
- Evaluative phase: This starts within 4-8 hours of ingestion and lasts 8-20 hours. Personal reflection, introspection, and contemplation of life and behaviors likely occur during this stage.
- Residual stimulation phase: This starts within 12-24 hours and lasts at least 24-72 hours and sometimes longer. Attention turns from internal to external stimuli, and effects can linger before returning to normal.
- Recovery: This is a period after ibogaine treatment wherein substance abusers remain abstinent as drug cravings may be erased, although self-destructive thought and behavior patterns still need to be addressed through counseling and therapy.
Ibogaine’s legal status in the United States means that it is largely untested and unregulated, meaning that there may be potential side-effects to its use that are not fully understood. Nineteen sudden deaths within 76 hours of ingesting ibogaine have been reported between 1990 and 2008, although 12 of the 14 for which enough data was available had underlying medical conditions, such as heart conditions or liver disease, or they had additional substances in their bloodstream, as published by the Journal of Forensic Sciences. Ibogaine can cause cardiac arrhythmias and liver damage, and it can have lethal interactions with other illicit substances. If you are considering undergoing ibogaine treatment for an opioid dependency, it is important that you be completely honest about your medical history and substances that may be in your bloodstream before ingesting the drug.
Long-term potential side-effects of ibogaine have yet to be discovered, and one of the prominent non-profit research organizations looking to rectify that is the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS. Current research on ibogaine is being done by MAPS in New Zealand and Mexico where it is not an illegal substance. Currently, MAPS estimates that ibogaine has a mortality rate of one in every 300 patients.
There is no “magic bullet” when it comes to substance abuse treatment, although scientists make advances and new discoveries every day. For more information on the most up-to-date and safest scientifically based opioid dependency treatments, contact an admissions counselor at The Recovery Village today.