Ibogaine: The Nuclear Option

There are many people at their wits end, trying to stop acting out their addiction or some other intractable pattern of thought or behaviour. I have vivid memories of sitting in recovery groups and watching exasperated, desperate people who, as far as I could tell, genuinely wanted healing. Many of them, including myself, had been trying for years to stop their destructive behaviour, but just couldn’t quite get there. These are people who, like me, spent countless hours working 12 steps groups and many other recovery/healing programs. I’m hoping some of them will find these pages and, in so doing, find an option that they had never considered.
It’s not often that someone suggests using a hallucinogenic plant for dealing with personal issues. If I had known a few years ago how impassioned about this topic I’d be, I might have wondered (as perhaps many of my friends and family might now) what demon (or brain imbalance) had possessed me. Well I’m not possessed! I promise!

Despite the fact that social consensus sits squarely against this option, if you find yourself “possessed” enough to consider Ibogaine, you have thousands of years of worldwide healing tradition on your side. Ibogaine and many plants very similar to it have a long history of producing positive outcomes. In Gabon, one of the west African countries that Ibogaine comes from, it has been declared a national treasure. Tribes within and around Gabon use it to promote spiritual growth, stabilise families and communities, and aid physical and psychospiritual healing. The current negative social consensus is mostly western, relatively new (relative in terms of the age of shamanic cultures), and based in ignorance and fear.

As far as addiction treatment modalities go, Ibogaine is the nuclear option. (Okay. Calling it “nuclear” maybe be overstating it, but it’s hard to find an adequate metaphor.) When some stuck behaviour or thought pattern needs to be unseated, Ibogaine is in its own class. Some have described the experience as akin to 10 years of psychotherapy in one night. While I think the psychospiritual dynamics in question are more complicated than that, I definitely understand the sentiment.

For many of us, the Ibogaine experience stands on the level of a major life event, on par with the birth or death of a loved one. It compels us to re-order priorities. It pulls the crap off of our stuck internal compass, so that the needle reorients to what’s truly important. It helps people get unstuck and move on with their lives. A common feeling after the treatment is one of being given a second chance. Because of it’s ability to significantly weaken craving or compulsion to the substance or behaviour of attachment, the feeling has substance behind it.

That said, despite it’s powerful and near miraculous nature, it’s not a magic bullet and it usually won’t stop an addiction (or other emotional issue) permanently. It doesn’t remove free will. It gives powerful insight and, for many of us, a cosmic kick in the ass. The actual work of long-term healing is left to us. We have to make the daily effort to build better patterns. This is why all the recovery groups and other healing modalities are still important. Ibogaine opens a window of opportunity. We have to climb through that window, before it closes.

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