Category Archives: Ibogaine

Long Term Sobriety and “White-Knuckling”

It feels strange writing about my past acting out/sex addiction. It seems a little forced because it feels behind me. NIne years ago, and especially before I did Ibogaine, I couldn’t have envisioned myself as free as I am now. I was so entrenched in the addiction, and had been for long (2.5 decades), that it was extremely difficult to see how life could be different. Now take my sobriety mostly for granted, which is a nice place to be. I still have a lot of healing work to do. Some of the drivers of addiction are still there. But I’m very grateful for the sobriety I have now.

I say “for the most part” because I respect the fact that things can change. I understand that if I am dumb and don’t take care of myself, and don’t keep making healthy decisions (or at least make more healthy decisions than unhealthy ones), I could end up right back where I was. It’s not as if porn doesn’t carry any attraction. It does. I just choose not to go there any more. I have more interesting things to do, things I care deeply about. And the longer I’ve stayed away, the less the cravings and temptations have become. Thankfully, now, the cravings rarely hit me. I can go months with no craving. In fact, I don’t remember when my last strong craving was!–something impossible to imagine back when I was hooked.

Just to be clear, however, it’s not as if I never want to act out. It’s just more at the level of something like ice-cream or cake. I know I shouldn’t eat sugar. It’s addictive and unhealthy for me. Sometimes I think “oh, it would be really nice to eat that.” But because my sugar addiction is basically broken, it’s more like an intermittent longing. It’s never a strong craving. Only if I eat sugar do I crave sugar. It’s the same for porn and acting out now. Sometimes I long for it. I think my brain/will is no longer hijacked as easily as it was before. So, it’s easier to stay out of the addiction.

For the first 3 or 4 years after Ibogaine, the cravings were much stronger and more frequent than now. To survive, I “white-knuckled” a lot. Pretty much everyone in recovery groups hears that white-knuckling is a bad thing. I agree that it’s not ideal and not sustainable over the long term. But, early in recovery, you gotta do what you gotta do. Or, at least, that’s how I thought about it. I believe white-knuckling is hard to avoid early in recovery because we just don’t know any better. And we are not yet well-practiced at reacting to our cravings (or any compulsion) with self-compassion and connection to God or a Higher Power or whatever. We just aren’t there yet. Now, thankfully, if I feel I’m white-knuckling, I know that something is off in my attitude or consciousness. I know that I need to slow down, feel into my suffering, and really listen to what’s there. Only when I truly connect, without judgement, does that the pain (the craving) transform to something that feels healing (rather than getting stuffed down again).

If you are seeking recovery and are unable to call up these positive attitudes and emotions toward yourself, I implore you to start learning. Don’t wait to learn until you have sobriety. And don’t give up if you feel it’s not working. The positive skills you learn while you are relapsing will help you when you finally stop. The skills of self-compassion and openness to learning from the very thing that’s hurting us (such as craving) is huge. Without these, as far as I can tell, we just put off for another day the lesson we need to learn now.

But, don’t give up. It takes time and practice to cultivate this kind of inner compassion. It also usually takes the help of someone who is better at it. In the meantime, if you need to white-knuckle, do that. And keep doing it until the new skill of self compassion can replace it!

Comments? Questions? Please share below!

And if you’d like some help building the skill of self-compassion, I’d love to be involved! Contact me here for a 30 minutes session at no charge.

Ibogaine will not cure you

I hate to say it, but it’s true. Many people tout Ibogaine as a miracle cure. “Just do an Ibogaine session and it’ll fix you,” they say. On certain levels, this might be true. Ibogaine has a spectacular affect on addiction. What drug can nearly wipe out the physical withdrawal (and corresponding suffering) of a profound multi-decade opiate addiction within the space of an hour. That this plant isn’t better known and exhaustivly researched by now is beyond my understanding. I didn’t come to it with with a substance addiction, but with sex addiction. And it blew that away too. (By “blew away,” I mean it weakened my very intense cravings to almost nothing and set me on a path to gain the much healthier life I have now.)

Expect to work hard

But here’s the deal. I worked very hard on healing. I worked very hard on staying away from porn, dissolving triggers, healing trauma, cleaning up relationships, building positive habits, making profound changes to my environment. In short, I worked very hard to stay away from my addiction and build better patterns.

My cravings did come back, but I had such a profoundly helpful push from the Iboga plant, that my efforts finally stuck. And, for sure, it wasn’t easy. Iboga will help, but those of us with long term addictions, life after iboga and without our addiction (our main coping mechanism) will definitely have it’s downs.

Have a plan to continue healing after Ibogaine

Pretend for minute that you will never have access to Ibogaine. You will never receive its help. Pretend also that you MUST absolutely get sober. You must absolutely stop your addiction. You KNOW, for sure, that it cannot continue. What will you do? What will you plan be? (By the way, if you’re not sure how to create a good plan, one that you can be confident in, contact me. I might be able to help.)

Take that plan and start executing on it. Start implementing it well before you do Ibogaine. Act on your plan as if that’s all you got. And, just an aside here, if you use, drink or act out while executing your plan, don’t take that as an reason to give up. Pick up and keep trying. Keep at it until parts of your plan are becoming second nature. Then, when you do Ibogaine, you’ll have some great momentum for picking up where it leaves off. Suddenly, for a time after Ibogaine, you’ll be completely free from your addiction, including the cravings and withdrawal. Suddenly, for a time, you’ll be able to stay clean and easily flow into your new life, and the plan you’ve initiated, along with the new habits you’re building, will already be partly in place.

This is more or less what I did. And it’s what most of the Ibogaine providers are advising. Please take this seriously.

Again, don’t expect it to fix you

It will help you fix yourself. Like Moses did with the Red Sea, it sort of parts the waters of a large and deep ocean. That’s your chance to walk out of there. You can’t dilly-dally or be confused about which direction to go because the water is going to crash back. You have to walk out before that happens.

Expect that most of  triggers will return. How are you going to handle that? Life is going to get stressful and overwhelming again (which is actually pretty normal). How are you going to deal with that? Your girlfriend is going to cheat on you (with your best friend), someone is going to shoot your dog, and your house is going to burn down, all on the same day. When an old friend arrives and, in a seemingly warm and caring way, thrusts a bottle of vodka (or heroine, or meth, or cocaine, or porn) into your hand, how will you handle it?

Ibogaine does not live life for us. It does not clean up our messes. It doesn’t make us wake up happy in the morning. That’s all on us.

So what are your plans?

How are you going to stay sober after Ibogaine when things get tough? How are you going to handle cravings when they come back? How are you going to deal with old triggers (especially very painful ones)? I’d love to hear about what you’re planning — please let me know in the comments below!

By the way, if you’re not completely sure what to do after your Ibogaine treatment, contact me. I care deeply about these issues and I love helping people on their healing journey.

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.

Comments? Questions? Please share below!