Opioid abuse is a widespread issue. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 90 Americans die daily from opioid overdoses, while more than 2 million American abuse drugs. The only way people can successfully escape the addiction is by going to a rehabilitation center, where they will receive the right treatment to get rid of cravings and prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Opioids can be obtained illegally in some cases, as some people seek the euphoric effects they can offer. Others obtain them on prescription to treat certain problems. Both of these situations can lead to opioid addiction, though.
Ibogaine is one of the medications that can be used to decrease opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms. But ibogaine is not as easily found, not to mention that it is not something doctors prescribe for their patients. Some studies were done, but they weren’t enough to determine the full extent of this medication.
Ibogaine is a substance extracted from the root bark of a plant known as Tabrananthe iboga. It’s a psychoactive alkaloid, and historically, it was part of religious and initiatory ceremonies for West-Central Africa native people. Ibogaine has dissociative properties, and according to some previous studies, it may be useful in treating drug addiction.
Ibogaine is the most abundant alkaloid that the plant produces, and in the 1900s, it finally entered the medical arena. It was in the 1960s that it started causing a lot of excitement due to its anti-addictive properties, while in the 1980s, it became quite popular in the U.S. and Europe for treating drug addiction.
Since then, there were several studies performed in order to find out how effective this substance is and whether it can be dangerous or not. It became a Schedule I drug – this means that it is not approved for medical use today.
How Does it Work?
According to research, ibogaine can act as a mild stimulant if the dose is small. But larger amounts can lead to less pleasant effects, such as hallucinations. What’s worse is that the psychedelic state doesn’t go away quickly but is there to stay for more than 24 hours.
However, ibogaine can also be amazing at reducing cravings and withdrawal in opioid addicts. When someone starts using heroin or another type of opioid, it will interact with certain brain receptors, which can cause addiction over time. The brain and body build a tolerance to the usual dose, so they will require more to avoid withdrawal and obtain that pleasant feeling.
Ibogaine will take the brain receptors to the state they used to be in before opioid use. It can interrupt chemical addiction, ensuring that cravings disappear, and withdrawal symptoms are no longer a problem.
The substance certainly has some benefits, which were proven during various studies. When used, ibogaine can stop opioid cravings and make sure that opioid withdrawal stays away. As a result, someone who has been opioid-dependent for a longer amount of time will suddenly have fewer cravings, and withdrawal symptoms will take up to 48 hours to disappear.
Even though ibogaine can bring some advantages to the table, this is not enough to make the drug safe. Because the studies have also shown some negative sides, it became a Schedule I substance. So, at the moment, the medication is not accepted for opioid treatments.
Ibogaine Side Effects
Side effects may appear in people who take ibogaine, especially if they use higher amounts. In fact, it can be pretty risky to use the medication, which is mainly why you don’t hear about people with opioid dependence being prescribed ibogaine.
Some side effects that may appear include:
- Arrhythmias and other heart issues
- Gastrointestinal problems
In worst-case scenarios, the medication may even cause someone’s death. About 19 deaths temporarily associated with ibogaine use were reported between 1990 and 2008. Six of the patients died due to cardiopulmonary arrest or acute heart failure.
At the moment, scientists don’t know the right dosage of ibogaine, how it should be administered safely and how effective the medication would be. For this reason, it shouldn’t be used.
Multiple studies involved ibogaine in an attempt to determine its safety and effectiveness. There was a Mexico study with 30 people who got ibogaine-based treatment for abusing opiates.
Scientists measured the dosage and frequency at the start of the treatment and every month for the following year. Also, a survey was done to ask the participants basic questions like their family history, as well as psychiatric, employment, and medical statuses.
The results of the research determined that ibogaine cannot cure addiction but interrupt it instead. 80% of the participants relapsed within the first 6 months – 60% of this percentage relapsed within the first 2 months, while one-third of them already relapsed within the 1st month. Only 20% managed to reach 6 months without requiring aftercare, and four participants didn’t relapse for over a year after the treatment.
But the studies conducted are not enough – more research is required before knowing for sure how good or bad ibogaine is.
The medication is not available for treatment due to its risks. It may be able to stop cravings, but it also puts people through psychedelic states for over a day.
Ibogaine may be more effective in treating opioid addiction if psychotherapy is used alongside it. This was shown by a study performed in Brazil in 2014. It was a small study, though, as it had no more than 75 participants.
Therefore, it will not be prescribed as part of opioid treatment, and if someone decides to use it, it should only be done under medical supervision.
Choosing Real Deal
It is possible to quit opioid addiction, and here at Real Deal, we know it best. The spotlight here is on treating addictions, but also on our patients’ mental health. Therefore, we offer an effective detoxification program, as well as inpatient and outpatient treatments. Furthermore, we offer individual therapy for anyone who is dealing with mental health problems.
If you are struggling with opioid addiction, you should seek help right now. Ibogaine is not part of opioid treatments at the moment, but there are approved substances that will be very effective in treating your problem.