Scientists and researchers in the drugs and alcohol field are constantly searching for an easier way to detoxify from Heroin addiction. The theory being that if the detox was more comfortable and quicker; more Heroin addicts would come in to recovery. My own experience of working with individuals addicted to Heroin confirms that they may well have a very valid point.

Heroin withdrawal isn’t pleasant and so far only painkillers and sedatives can be administered in the UK to make the patient more comfortable whilst experiencing the side-effects of withdrawing. Gone are the days when your GP would tell you to take a couple of Paracetamol and to get on with it. Substitute medications are used to detoxify over a period of time and whilst it is far more comfortable than going “cold turkey”, it is still a far from pleasant experience. So the promise of a miracle “cure” that not only stops the individual feeling withdrawals whilst detoxing, but also removes the desire to ever use Heroin again is going to be VERY appealing to someone wanting to get and stay clean. No maintenance, no therapy, no pain? So what’s the catch I ask…?

Ibogaine

Ibogaine is hailed as the latest miracle drug to cure Heroin addiction. Allegedly it detoxes the individual without them feeling any withdrawal effects and also suppresses their craving to use the drug ever again. Call me a sceptic, but my understanding of addiction is that the illness centres in the mind, and that it is their thinking that takes them back to using drugs. How can taking a single dose of Ibogaine change an individual’s thought processes and established thinking patterns and core belief system?

So what exactly is it?

Ibogaine is derived from a West African plant, and is a hallucinogenic. The user will experience a “trip” and enter a dream-like state for 4-6 hours after taking it. However it is illegal in many countries, including the UK and very little money has been made available to fund its research, despite its claims by a few minority scientists that it blocks the Opiate receptors in the brain, therefore quelling the imperious thirst for Heroin in a Heroin addict. Surely if this were true, there would at least be funding made available for research into the drug? I admit myself I am interested to know more about any drug that makes such radical claims about curing addiction. The fact so little is known about its long term effects, or indeed short term effects makes me suspicious as to just how safe this drug is. This suspicion is compounded by the fact that it is banned in most countries and that Ibogaine has been associated with some users dying after taking it.

Stick to therapy

All in all, whilst I am interested to know more, I will stick to the tried and trusted methods of treating addiction through therapy. Therapy has the ability to change the person as a whole, to address the issues underpinning their addiction and to make them a happier and more balanced individual. I don’t see how any drug can achieve this, let alone one that claims to achieve it in a single dose.

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