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How Does Ibogaine Treatment Work for Addiction?

A Look at This Psychoactive Approach to Heroin and Opiate Withdrawal

By Aeden Smith-AhearnPublished 7 years ago 5 min read
Ibogaine addresses addiction on a physical and psychological level.

Before I found out about Ibogaine treatment, I was a massive junkie. My life was in shambles. I had stolen cash, credit cards, vehicles, and probably lifespan from my parents.

Especially my parents.

My parents tried so many different methods to keep me off of heroin. I did multiple stints at traditional rehab facilities — didn't stick. They moved me to a private school for boys to keep me away from my friends — I found even worse friends.

They even tried week-long wilderness retreats and scare tactics, but nothing helped me get clean.

Looking back, I am surprised they kept trying when everything seemed so hopeless.

By accident, I heard about a psychedelic drug called Ibogaine that was supposed to treat addiction on the physical level. It wasn't something I was familiar with, so I started doing some research.

A few weeks later I enrolled in an Ibogaine clinic in Rosarito, Mexico. It seemed a little scary to travel to Mexico to try out some new-wave, holistic drug addiction therapy.

But I was pretty much down to no other options.

My parents told me that if this didn't work I was done, finished, cut-off. They couldn't take anymore. If I couldn't come home and stay clean then I wasn't going to be allowed to come home.

Psychedelic medicines, like Ibogaine, can treat addiction by addressing the source.

On My Way to Take Ibogaine in Mexico

So, I got on an airplane and flew to Mexico.

I had just spent about $7000 dollars of my parent's money on a prayer.

And I was really scared.

It was scary going to Mexico. I remember they picked me up and took me across the border. The second I crossed the border I thought, "This is it, they are going to harvest my organs and take my money."

But when I arrived at the clinic, my fears went away pretty fast. The staff members were all really nice. There were American faces there which made me feel a little more comfortable as well.

The view was beautiful, too. Right on the beach.

I got settled in, did some prescreening tests, and they made sure I was going to be healthy enough for the Ibogaine.

Ibogaine elevates heart rate and also is converted into noribogaine by the liver. Patients that take Ibogaine have to be heart-healthy and have a properly functioning, healthy liver. These are two key components to making sure Ibogaine treatment is safe.

After I was cleared for treatment, it was time to get some sleep, the next day I would be getting a flood dose of Ibogaine.

The Ibogaine experience can be very intense.

What is Ibogaine?

Let me touch on what Ibogaine is.

Ibogaine is one of the many alkaloids that can be extracted from the tabernanthe iboga root bark.

For centuries, a religion in Central Africa known as Bwiti have used the iboga root to make a strong psychedelic tea that is a major part of their religious ceremonies.

It wasn't until the 1960s that Ibogaine was discovered to have healing properties for heroin and opiate addiction.

Since then, iboga, mainly in the extracted form of Ibogaine, has been used in many countries as a treatment for heroin and opiate addiction.

How does Ibogaine work?

Ibogaine works in the brain on two levels. The first level is the physical addiction itself. The second level is the spiritual or psychological level.


For those with heroin and opiate addiction, Ibogaine literally eliminates all of the withdrawal symptoms in the addict.

Normally, the body produces its own chemicals that make us feel pleasure and happiness.

However, as the addict takes more drugs, the body begins to rely on these drugs and not the bodies natural chemicals to feel those things.

Eventually, our bodies become dependent on these foreign chemicals. Our bodies can no longer function properly, and so if the addict tries to stop using, they go through severe depression, anxiety, and physical pain.

This is withdrawal.

Ibogaine resets the brain back to its pre-addicted state. During the Ibogaine experience the Ibogaine addresses the damage caused by drug use and helps to repair the brain.

What would normally take months, even years for the body to do naturally, Ibogaine is able to do in a 12–24 hour period.

For an addict facing withdrawal, this gives them a major head start on their path to recovery.


However, Ibogaine is also a psychedelic medicine. Many addicts, around 60 percent, have an intense experience when taking Ibogaine.

Addicts describe their experience as a "waking dream." These addicts often find themselves face to face with their past decisions, harm they have caused others, and trauma they have experienced.

Through this process, many addicts are able to find and address past negative experiences that are often the underlying cause of their addictive behaviors.

Many other drugs can offer this type of healing. Psilocybin, MDMA, Ayahuasca, and other psychedelic drugs have been getting attention recently for their ability to address addiction and trauma.

The process of Ibogaine treatment is similar, the psychedelic experience offers many addicts healing on an emotional level that they cannot find anywhere else.

Me now, clean and sober for 5 years.

My Ibogaine Experience

My Ibogaine experience was intense. It took me to places that, frankly, I didn't want to see. However, Ibogaine helped me address many of the worst things I had done in my life. The psychedelic experience taught me many lessons that I am still trying to live.

But on a physical level, Ibogaine saved my life. I was completely free from my heroin withdrawals and I was able to make the decision to move forward in a much more positive way.

I have been clean ever since that day.

My story isn't anything special. I have met and talked with thousands of addicts from around the world that have had similar stories. Some found success through Alcoholics Anonymous, some found it in traditional rehab facilities, and some found it by locking themselves up in a room at home for weeks at a time.

Mine was found through Ibogaine.

I don't believe there is one correct approach to addiction recovery. However, I do believe that many addicts do not know what alternative methods exist.

But there are alternative methods, and many of them are viable options that could be saving lives.

I believe we need to be putting more energy and resources into finding these alternatives. The heroin and opiate epidemic continues to grow. Each individual addict deserves a real chance at success.

Ibogaine is just one option, but it was my option, and I owe my new life to it.

Courtesy of: Experience Ibogaine Treatment Centers for Addiction


About the Creator

Aeden Smith-Ahearn

Former heroin addict. Now I am proponent of alternative medicines, new-wave treatments, research, and education on psychedelic compounds for addiction, depression, and other disorders.

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    Aeden Smith-AhearnWritten by Aeden Smith-Ahearn

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