Heroin and opiate addiction are some of the most difficult to overcome. The uniquely potent and addictive power of these drugs makes these drugs difficult to stop using. On top of this, the particularly severe withdrawal symptoms make it nearly impossible for an addict to successfully eliminate their addiction on their own.
With drug overdose deaths over 60,000 in 2016, it’s clear that these challenges are contributing to the development of a major problem with drug addiction in the USA.
Many of the possible solutions to the growing drug crisis are not widely available. One of the most effective, yet relatively unknown, treatment options is medical Ibogaine therapy. Ibogaine offers a scientifically based method for treating heroin addiction and withdrawal symptoms in a completely unique way.
Ibogaine is not a perfect treatment. There is no one-size-fits-all drug treatment method. However, with the staggeringly low success rates of traditional rehabilitation programs, the need for alternative, science based treatment options for opiate and heroin addiction is becoming much more apparent.
The Current Opioid Epidemic
The opioid epidemic was just declared a national emergency by the United States government.
However, for the most part, this announcement hasn’t brought about any actual changes made in policies.
The lack of governmental solutions to the opioid epidemic is partially due to the current mentality that seems to be centered around blame rather than healing. Blame the victims for buying drugs, blame those who smuggle drugs, and blame drugs for being drugs.
But placing blame on drug users ignores one important fact; addicts do not choose to be addicts.
Especially when it comes to opioid addiction.
Opioid abuse is a complicated issue, but statistics show that it is not often the addicts fault. One study showed that half of those prescribed opiates for 1 month ended up addicted for a year.
This means that many addicts are becoming addicts through legal prescription medications designed to help them alleviate pain. Then, before they know it, the addiction has set in and it becomes nearly impossible to break.
Along with the addiction problem, these prescription drug have a high likelihood of abuse. Overdose numbers are also far higher than heroin overdoses.
Perhaps due to the misplaced solution efforts, the epidemic isn’t going away anytime soon. Statnews forecasts that, if overdose rates continue to rise, the number could hit 650,000 deaths from overdose in the next decade.
The problem is well underway with no end in sight.
How Heroin and Opiates Change the Brain
The reason opiates and heroin are so hard to quit, scientifically, is based on how they change the chemistry in the brain.
Opiates operate on specific receptors in the brain.
These receptors are made to pass chemical messages to the brain that control how we feel.
To work on these receptors, opiates mimic the natural chemicals of the brain. This flood of artificial chemicals is what creates the “high” associated with opiate and heroin use.
With continued use of opiates, the brain becomes accustomed to these unnaturally high levels of chemicals. The brain adjusts to this higher supply of chemicals.
As the brain changes, more opiates are needed to make the user feel “high.”
Eventually, the addict needs a certain level of opiate chemicals just to feel normal.
The addiction has set in.
And heroin and opiates are the hardest drugs to quit, not only are they severely addictive, but they come with some of the worst withdrawal symptoms. Making it near impossible for an addict to stop using.
Heroin and Opiate Withdrawals
Because of the way the brain has been altered, the natural chemicals that the brain produces are almost completely ineffective.
When an addict stops using, the brain cannot produce near the amount of chemicals that were being supplied by the use of opiates or heroin.
For the addict to feel normal again without drugs, the brain has to heal and readjust back to its natural state.
This is where withdrawal comes in.
Withdrawal happens because the brain’s receptors are no longer receiving enough chemical messages responsible for regulating their normal functions. In opiate users, the receptors affected are the ones responsible for mood and pain management.
When the drug use stops, addicts go through intense mood swings, depression, physical pain, phantom pain, hot sweats, cold sweats, irregular bowel function, and even seizures.
This withdrawal phase can be massively difficult to overcome. It usually takes 7-10 days for the majority of the withdrawal symptoms to pass.
Many addict are unable to endure these harsh withdrawal symptoms and relapse back into drug use.
The Failings of Traditional Rehab
Currently, our traditional rehab system operates almost solely around the Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous methods.
This puts many opiate and heroin addicts in a position where the only medicine prescribed involves either sweating it out, being sedated, or taking different medications that contain the same opiate drugs.
Often, the literal medicine prescribed by traditional rehabilitation methods is just this: more opiates just in a new form.
With a new prescription, the addict goes from a short-term opiate to a long-term opiate.
Anne Fletcher, award winning medical writer and speaker, suggests that only 10% of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program is based on science.
It seems we are trying to convince the brain to change its ways through positive thinking rather than helping to address the actual issues the addict is dealing with.
In fact, peer-reviewed studies of AA and AA based treatment programs put success rates at 5-10%. For a nation moving towards 650,000 overdose deaths in the next decade, that success rate is shockingly low.
Of course, some addicts do find success through these programs, and that is good news. But for the vast majority our current treatment programs are not offering enough support to those struggling with opiate or heroin addiction.
There are many alternatives to this model of treatment. However, they are not often talked about and research inside the US is limited.
Ibogaine is just one alternative for treating these addictions, but it has shown some very promising results.
Ibogaine and Physical Withdrawal
Since its discovery for treating addiction in 1962, scientists in the US, Europe, Mexico, and New Zealand have extensively studied how Ibogaine works in the brain and what makes it so effective for treating heroin and opiate addiction specifically.
They discovered that Ibogaine works in two ways.
The first is by targeting physical withdrawals.
Ibogaine specifically addresses the physical withdrawal symptoms in the brain. After Ibogaine is ingested, it begins to heal neurons and receptors that have been altered or damaged by heroin and opiate use.
Ibogaine binds to these receptors and resets them back to their pre-addicted state.
For the addict, a process that would normally take the brain months to do is completed in just one flood dose of Ibogaine.
Studies put this withdrawal reduction in the range of 80 to 100%. This means a major reduction of the harsh withdrawal symptoms typically associated with quitting opiates or heroin.
Ibogaine has been demonstrated scientifically to target and heal the areas of the brain associated and affected by opioid addiction. This especially effective method of healing is why no other detox treatment can work like Ibogaine.
But Ibogaine treats more than the physical withdrawal symptoms associated with heavy opiate use. It also offers many addicts an intense psychedelic experience, enabling them to heal on an emotional and psychological level.
Ibogaine and Psychological Healing
The second phase of Ibogaine is treatment on the psychological level.
Ibogaine is a powerful psychedelic medicine that can offer strong visions and emotions to those who use it. Because of this, it is often referred to as the “waking dream.”
Not all addicts will have a psychedelic experience when taking Ibogaine. Each individual’s physiology will play a part in how intense the psychedelic experience can be.
Alternatively, some addicts will have a very powerful experience, but, after coming out of their “trip,” they will almost immediately forget most or all of it as if it was a dream.
Though these are both possibilities, for the majority, the psychoactive properties of Ibogaine will take effect and offer them an intense psychedelic experience.
Ibogaine can be harsh. This intense experience invokes heavy emotions, but also generates a more accepting state for addict to deal with those emotions.
Ibogaine often illuminates many of the underlying causes for the addiction.
Often, traumatic past experiences leads to abusive drug use. Heroin and opiates are often used as a form of self-medication, in order to cover up the negative emotions or life experiences.
Without guidance, addicts rarely see the correlation between their past and their addiction.
The Ibogaine experience can provide vivid illustrations of these correlations. Many describe being put face to face with their past—often forcing them to deal with the past in a new light.
Ibogaine helps to uncover the reasons that are often the underlying cause of the addiction. It can help the addict see clearly what affect the addiction is having on their life and the lives of those around them.
Though the process is difficult, it can be very therapeutic. When addicts emerge from this state, they often describe it as “exactly what they needed,” although not something they would want to experience again.
This is what makes psychedelic medicines so helpful in the addiction treatment process. Drugs like Ayahuasca, MDMA, Psilocybin, and LSD can have similar affects.
Ibogaine, however, is able to work on the both psychological level as well as the physical level.
When dealing with heroin and opiate addiction, the physical healing can be seen as the most important, but the psychological effects of Ibogaine help add a layer of understanding that helps to facilitate permanent change.
For those who do not experience the psychological effects of Ibogaine, the physical treatment is often enough to promote lasting change.
Ibogaine Success Rate for Heroin and Opiate Addiction
The information concerning long-term Ibogaine success rates comes with a degree of variation.
When we are looking at Ibogaine treatment success rates on a 12-month scale, there are very few studies available. Those that are available contain small sample sizes, which may affect their reliability.
Even though these studies have shown very promising results, future studies will need to be done to better determine the efficacy of Ibogaine treatment with more precision.
However, these studies do show one result consistently, Ibogaine is effective for detoxification and reducing withdrawal symptoms.
Here are a few studies that have been conducted on Ibogaine treatment for addiction.
In this study, subjects reported a 55% reduction in withdrawal symptoms at 30 hours post treatment.
However, half of these patients had used methadone, an opiate blocker, in the past 30 days which Ibogaine cannot effectively treat.
This means that those who had used methadone were much less likely to have an effective Ibogaine treatment experience. Most likely, the Ibogaine was not effective at all.
After a 30-day period, 50% reported no opiate use since the Ibogaine treatment. Compared to other addiction treatment methods this result is staggering.
This study also shows the dramatic effects of Ibogaine. However, once again, the scale is small—making this unreliable for universal application.
But it does give us a good idea of how effective Ibogaine can be.
Of the 14 participants in this study, the average opioid withdrawal reduction was 77% at 2-4 days after Ibogaine treatment.
Although some participants were unaccounted for in the long-term, of those that were tested for drug use the results were as follows.
At 3 months – 8 tested with 1 testing positive for opioid use in the last 30 days.
At 6 months – 7 tested with 1 testing positive for opioid use in the last 30 days.
At 12 months – 8 tested with 2 testing positive for opioid use in the last 30 days.
This means that, at 12 months, 75% of follow-up patients were still clean with no opiates in their system.
Scientifically speaking, Ibogaine is very effective at treating opioid addiction. If we were to rely only on these studies, we would be able to say that Ibogaine is unmatched statistically for treating long-term opioid dependence.
However, once again, with such small sample sizes it can be difficult to apply these success rates to all individuals dealing with opiate or heroin addiction.
Either way, these numbers show promise. Even if these rates are off by as much as 50%, it still would put Ibogaine treatment at nearly triple the success rate of traditional rehabilitation and AA models.
Considering Ibogaine for Heroin and Opiate Addiction
Ibogaine treatment is not for everyone. Strict medical testing and guidelines must be followed in order to limit the possible negative outcomes from Ibogaine. Even with these protocols, Ibogaine can still be dangerous.
These tests include an EKG, liver enzyme tests, urinalysis, and blood tests to help detect risks that can make Ibogaine treatment dangerous.
Following these medical tests, a test dose of Ibogaine is given to make sure no allergic reactions result from using Ibogaine.
Ibogaine should never be taken without a trained and skilled medical team. Even with these medical precautions, the risk of Ibogaine treatment cannot be completely eliminated.
Ibogaine may not be the best solution for every addict. However, with the opioid epidemic worsening–and traditional drug rehabilitation methods showing very little success–Ibogaine has becoming an excellent alternative for those struggling with opiate or heroin addictions.
The dangers of opiate or heroin abuse far exceed the dangers posed by Ibogaine treatment. If you have further questions about Ibogaine treatment, how it works, or if you qualify for treatment, speak to one of our treatment specialists.
Or take the time to watch some of our Ibogaine treatment reviews and testimonials.
Success and long-term sobriety are possible. Every addict deserves to live a happy and productive life free from drug addiction.
There is always hope. Never give up.