With overdose and mortality on a steep rise through the United States, the opioid crisis has reached crisis level. Authorities insist on prosecuting addicts, but they must attack the root of the problem: big pharma. But in the polite words of former President Barack Obama, the war on drugs has been “very unproductive”.
Meanwhile, families and communities are attempting to navigate a way out of the epidemic and pick up the pieces. Methadone clinics might help, but they often just perpetuate dependence. More individuals are choosing to explore alternative methods of treatment.
“Detoxication is a necessary step in the treatment of opioid dependence. Ibogaine, an indole alkaloid found in the bark of the root of the African shrub Tabernanthe iboga, is alleged to have anti-addictive qualities, including efficacy in acute opioid withdrawal.”
Ibogaine is one substance scientifically proven to curb addiction and withdrawal symptoms. It is currently illegal in the United States, for its hallucinogenic properties. Ibogaine treatment clinics have gained popularity in Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, South Africa, and New Zealand. In most countries, it is unregulated, used as a prescription treatment or in a clinical setting.
A study published 1999 in the American Journal on Addictions tested ibogaine on 33 heroin addicts. They reported, “Resolution of the signs of opioid withdrawal without further drug-seeking behavior was observed within 24 hours in 25 patients and was sustained throughout the 72-hour period of post-treatment observation.”
In another study from Mexico, “12 out of 30 participants reported 75% reductions in their drug use 30 days following treatment, and 33% reported no opioid use three months later”. According to a 2016 study from New Zealand, after a single treatment, addicts were able to “achieve either cessation from opioids or sustained, reduced use for up to 12 months following treatment…All participants in the study described their ibogaine experience in positive terms”.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cited concerns about the safety of ibogaine, and it has been given a schedule I class of illegality. At the same time, prescription painkillers are responsible for almost 200,000 overdose deaths in the United States since 2000. Heroin and Fentanyl take tens of thousands more.
A variety of hallucinogenic drugs have been successfully used in clinical trials to treat physical and psychological symptoms, but the stigma that surrounds these drugs prevents deserving people from receiving proven treatment.
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