While the death toll from opiate and heroin addiction continues to rise, the question, “Why is Ibogaine illegal in the United States,” continues to be a very important. If life saving medicine, like Ibogaine, really has such a profound effect on addiction, why is the country with the biggest problem still ignoring scientific, results driven treatment options?
For many addicts, what started out in many cases as merely a treatment for pain–maybe a broken bone, an operation, or simply chronic, unavoidable pain–turns into an all out, full blown addiction that can be dangerous.
Time and time again we hear of athletes and celebrities falling prey to addiction and overdose from opiates. Most recently, Prince died from, what we suspect, was the ingestion of Fentanyl–a highly powerful opiate–which he thought was a much less powerful drug.
But what about the other 81 deaths a day related to opiate and heroin overdose? There are, unfortunately, too many stories to tell.
So, if Ibogaine treatment shows so much promise, then why is Ibogaine still illegal in the United States?
Illegal Ibogaine: A Brief History
Ibogaine first got its negative connotation, oddly enough, in the 1930’s with olympic athletes. The french were selling Ibogaine as a medical treatment and olympic athletes began using it as a performance enhancement drug. It wasn’t until the early 1960’s that Howard Lotsof discovered the medicinal properties of Ibogaine in relationship to his opiate addiction.
By the time Lotsof and others got around to scientifically testing Ibogaine it was too late. The mid 1960’s came with sweeping regulations by the FDA and Ibogaine, like all other psychedelic drugs, became a Scheduled and controlled substance.
Not only was Ibogaine made illegal to use on a personal level, it was also made illegal for scientific testing. And Ibogaine may have been relatively new, but drugs like LSD were already showing huge promise in treating addictions. But the data didn’t matter. The FDA had made up its mind and these drugs were completely and totally outlawed, leaving many scientists scratching their head from the lack of logic that surrounded these sweeping generalizations.
And to this day Ibogaine continues to remain a schedule 1 drug in the USA. Declared to have no medicinal value and to be extremely addictive.
Well if the FDA says so it must be true, right?
Opiates: How Did We Get Here?
There is almost nothing with stronger addictive traits than opiates. In fact, according to drugwarfacts.org statistics the only thing that comes close to heroin is nicotine.
But opiates like heroin are responsible for overdose deaths every day. And opiate overdoses are the worst possible, resulting often in death.
Nicotine may kill hundreds of thousands. But if you smoke too many cigarettes in a day you are not likely to die.
But opiates are touchy, and the slightest amount ingested over the tolerance level can be deadly.
Originally, opiates were only prescribed to cancer patients and the terminally ill. But, in 1997, the real problem began. Perdue Pharma, a major opiate supplier, waasn’t getting enough patients from just those suffering from cancer. So began their mission to get opiate based drugs into more hands, not just cancer patients.
In order for this to happen, they had to begin treating other issues with opiates–and that was the money maker.
Today, these pills have spun out of control and we find ourselves in an epidemic.
But no matter how we got here, the question, “is where are we going?” Of course we can take the pills away, but addicts will find heroin. Of course we can outlaw heroin, but the heroin trade will still grow.
And some people really need opiates, or some form of potent pain relief, to survive.
In the United States, our answer seems to be jail time. But, no matter how many times you throw an addict in jail you still don’t treat the central cause of their addiction. Addiction is more powerful than its consequences. That’s what addiction is by definition: a behavior that an individual still continues to do even in the face of extreme consequences.
Ibogaine Treatment for Opiate Addiction Works
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to any problem, especially not the opioid crisis. The best thing we can do is offer multiple options that work.
But if there is a drug that completely eliminates withdrawal symptoms, you would assume that would be at the top of the list for research.
Sure, drugs like Suboxone and Methadone can work for some people. Few, but some, will have the strength to quit cold turkey. And personally even if something as odd as drinking a gallon of milk everyday before noon deters cravings and helps get someone off drugs, then I am willing to put tax money towards testing it.
So, why not Ibogaine then?
Because it has a high potential for abuse? There is none. Ibogaine has almost zero potential for abuse. Ask anyone who has taken Ibogaine and they will probably stare you in the face and say, “I never want to do that again.”
Is it because of the dangerous side effects of clinical Ibogaine treatment? When compared to the overdose rates of our current go to treatment, Methadone, Ibogaine treatment looks like a walk in the park.
And even if Ibogaine treatment does have some small window of risk, it wouldn’t take much time for the top scientific minds in the world to substantially reduce the risk that is currently there.
So, “Why is Ibogaine illegal in the United States?”
The answer seems to be the same as LSD, Psilocybin, or Ayahuasca.
Someone got scared in the 1960s and made it everyone’s problem.
And now the opioid epidemic is a national crisis and the government is still ignoring Mother Nature’s only natural cure for it.
When will we learn? Hopefully soon.