With opiate addiction rates on the rise, and a public health crisis being declared in the US, more clinical professionals are relying on opiate antagonists and long-lasting blockers to treat severe heroin and opiate addiction.
Drugs like Buprenorphine, Suboxone, and Methadone are being doled out by the fistful to opiate addicted patients as a treatment for their addictions.
While some may say this is just replacing one addiction for another, others call it an amazing treatment option. However, one thing is clear—after years of being on these long-acting opiates many still feel like addicts.
They still feel awful.
And they still feel out of touch with their humanity.
At some point in time, many of those struggling with these medications seek treatment for their addiction.
This leads many right here, looking into Ibogaine treatment for these prescription drugs addictions, and wondering if Ibogaine can help them address their addictions.
Ibogaine, fortunately, can help—but not in a very convenient way.
Let’s look at how Ibogaine works in the brain to better understand the impact it can have on treating addiction to these long-acting opiate blockers.
Blocking Opiate Receptors
In the brain we have receptors. These receptors are where the chemicals we naturally produce are accepted.
Drugs fill these receptors in their own way.
Opiates, for instance, operate on the MU receptors in the brain. The brain produces natural chemicals that do the same thing. Opiates only mimic the bodies natural chemicals.
These drugs, whether produced naturally or by opiates taken by the individual, are called agonists.
These agonists, when they bind to the MU receptor, are able to dull and alleviate the pain throughout the body can be numbed by these drugs in the brain.
But when we take opiate based drugs we receive a high level of these chemicals, sometimes up to 100 times more than the body could ever naturally produce.
This is what makes opiates so addictive. They give the brain exactly what it wants at an extremely high level.
After a while, the brain becomes addicted. The addict begins looking for a way out.
So, scientists developed a set of drugs called antagonist drugs to combat this opiate addiction. These antagonist drugs, or anti-agonist, combat the same receptors that opiates are affecting in the brain.
Antagonist drugs—like Buprenorphine, Suboxone, and Methadone—are made to be “sticky” in the brain’s receptors. They are also made to have high half-lives so they stay in the body for a long time.
These two properties are why doctors prescribe it for opiate addiction.
By binding to the receptors, they become occupied. So, when an addict tries to use other opiate drugs, they have almost no effect on the brain’s receptors.
The receptors are occupied, filled, so they can’t accept more opiates.
A normal opiate will fill the receptor and then leave. However, these blockers are made to hold onto the receptor for a much longer time. Thus they are described as “sticky.”
And, because the half-life is longer, there is more of the drug being released into the body for a much longer time.
So, when one blocker is done and leaves the body, there are more blockers in the system that can stick to receptors and keep the cycle going.
The longer someone takes these drugs, the more of the drug is in the system. For those looking to get off of these drugs, this is a huge problem.
It usually takes 30-60 days for the body to filter out all of these drugs—depending on how long the addict has been using. Compare this to 3-7 days it takes the body to get rid of short-acting opiates like heroin.
Ibogaine and Opiate Receptors
Ibogaine works on the same receptors that opiates do. These are the receptors damaged from drug use, and Ibogaine helps to renew and reset these receptors in the brain.
During the Ibogaine experience, the Ibogaine converts into Noribogaine and binds to these MU or opioid receptors.
This is the process Ibogaine uses to interrupt and heal the brain from addiction.
But, opiate blockers make it impossible for the Ibogaine to do its job at resetting these opioid receptors.
During treatment, the addict taking Buprenorphine, Suboxone, or Methadone may still feel like the Ibogaine is working. This is because Ibogaine does not only work on the opiate receptor, but on other receptors as well.
So, the addict may still “trip.”
They may still feel the after effects of Ibogaine.
And putting those two together, the addict may think they are through the worst of their Buprenorphine, Suboxone, or Methadone withdrawal phase.
But, sure enough, as the after effects of Ibogaine begin to wear off, the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms from these drugs begin to slowly creep back in.
And this doesn’t apply only to someone who has taken these opioid blockers in the last few days. Some individuals will be off these drugs for weeks, even months, and still not be able to completely overcome their withdrawal symptoms with Ibogaine.
This is because these drugs can last so long in the system, and can be so hard for the body to get rid of.
One story found on Bluelight shares this same issue.
(Edited for readability)
“I was on Suboxone for 4-5 years and recently decided I wanted off everything. After lowering my dose to 1 mg a day, I still found that I couldn’t get through the withdrawals and after finding out that I would be in pretty bad withdrawals for upwards of 2 months or so cold turkey, I knew I had to find some other route of getting off.
“I ended up researching and finding an Ibogaine treatment center in Mexico and saw this as my only option to not have to go through a couple months of severe withdrawal.
“The ibogaine center told me I would have to go back to shorter acting opiates for a month before I could do the Ibogaine treatment because of how hard it is to get Suboxone out of the brain receptors. So, I switched back to Methadone and heroin for about a month and the last week before my Ibogaine treatment I did nothing but heroin.
“So, I went down to Mexico as a last resort to free myself from opiates and went through the Ibogaine treatment…
“I was there for a week and surprisingly when I left I was more or less withdrawal free except for one annoying symptom, which is the constant cold sweats and goosebumps.
“The treatment center said I would probably have mild lingering withdrawal symptoms due to how long I was on the Suboxone for. Upon arriving back home in California, I noticed mentally and physically I was really feeling good but I still had those annoying cold sweats and hot and cold flashes.
“I tried to ride it out but I couldn’t take it anymore so I got a script for clonidine.”
This individual was unable to fully overcome their withdrawal symptoms. The Ibogaine helped at first, but having Suboxone and Methdone lingering in their system made it almost impossible for the Ibogaine to work completely.
After they got home, the problem started to creep back in, until they realized they were still in all out withdrawal.
And the more Methadone or Suboxone in the system when the Ibogaine is taken, the less effective Ibogaine will be long-term.
This is why those struggling with heroin or other short-acting opiates find it much easier to combat their addiction with Ibogaine.
The hardest part for most Suboxone and Methadone addicts? Switching to short-acting opiates. The mindset is different and it is not often easy for the addict to get these other drugs.
And, if you have been off of heroin and on Suboxone or Methadone for years, switching back to a short-acting opiate seems like a major step backwards.
I Want Off Suboxone or Methadone – What Can I Do?
Getting off Suboxone or Methadone can be a struggle. If the addict has been using short-acting opiates in the recent past, and wants to try Ibogaine treatment, than the best option is to get back on short-acting opiates while the Suboxone or Methadone leaves the system.
The other option is to just stop using Suboxone or Methadone and switch to a non-opiate medication for pain and withdrawal management.
For some, neither of these options sounds very appealing. So, in desperation, if an Ibogaine center offers them treatment for their addiction without having to follow either of these two protocols, then they may take it—because they will feel they have no other option.
However, this is a very bad idea that doesn’t work out well for the majority.
It is simple science. Where opiate blockers are blocking receptors, Ibogaine cannot work. And, even though an addict may feel like the treatment is working, as the Ibogaine leaves the system the withdrawal symptoms come back.
Ibogaine can be a very effective treatment when protocols are followed correctly. However, when it comes to Suboxone or Methadone, the withdrawal will likely persist.
And even if an addict is off Suboxone or Methadone for 3-4 weeks, this still will not guarantee that the drugs is completely out of your system. The addict may continue to have some mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms after taking Ibogaine.
Is Ibogaine the Right Choice?
Ibogaine is not for everyone.
However, those struggling with opiate blocking medication may find Ibogaine to be an effective treatment.
At Experience Ibogaine, we have treated thousands of individuals who were addicted to Suboxone, Methadone, and other opiate blockers.
After these individuals successfully switched or stop using these opiate blockers, usually for a period of 30-60 days, many of them found a drastic reduction in their withdrawal symptoms through the use of Ibogaine.
Each individual is different. Different time periods will need to be in place due to age, health, and time spent on these medications.
Even then, every individual’s physiology is different, and Ibogaine treatment may work differently for one than another.
If you have tried other methods to get off these medications without success, than Ibogaine may be the best alternative method.
And Ibogaine is not only for those struggling with drug addictions, it can also be beneficial in treating depression, mental health issues, and PTSD.
Finding complete sobriety from these medications is possible, and addicts will feel much better when they are completely clean.
Talk to one of our specialists if you have more questions concerning Buprenorphine, Suboxone, or Methadone addiction.