In 2021, Time Magazine reported that ibogaine is currently one of the most promising psychedelic drugs being studied as a potential treatment for drug addiction.
While ibogaine is illegal in the U.S., the psychedelic substance has been studied for decades, and studies show it may help to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms and opioid cravings.
As opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. continue to rise, researchers are looking at new potential treatments to help treat addiction and curb the wave of grief devastating American families.
What Is Ibogaine?
Ibogaine is a psychoactive indole alkaloid that’s found in a West African shrub, known as the Tabernanthe iboga. It’s a naturally occurring substance.
In the United States, ibogaine — like many psychedelics — is classified as a Schedule I substance, meaning it has no accepted medical use in the U.S. and is illegal.
In other parts of the world, however, like New Zealand, ibogaine is legal, and has been studied as a potential pharmacological treatment for opioid/opiate addiction.
What Does Ibogaine Help With?
Ibogaine is a psychedelic that can, in small doses, act as a mild stimulant. A larger dose of ibogaine can cause psychedelic effects, including hallucinations.
Some studies and case reports on its use for addiction in Mexico, Brazil, and New Zealand show the substance may also help relieve opioid withdrawal and reduce opioid drug cravings.
In France, the substance was also once sold and prescribed by healthcare providers as an antidepressant, under the name Lambarene.
Healthcare experts say, however, that more clinical trials are needed in order to assess its effects in humans, as well as potential risks and benefits of its use for treating addiction.
What Are The Effects Of Ibogaine?
Ibogaine can have a range of effects on your mental state, mood, and your body.
How the drug affects you, however, may depend on the dose taken, and other factors, such as any other medical or mental health conditions you might have.
Side effects of ibogaine may include:
- hallucinogenic effects
- low blood pressure
Generally, low doses can cause mild stimulant effects, while larger doses can result in a psychedelic state.
Is Ibogaine Safe For Treating Addiction?
In the United States, ibogaine has yet to gain the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an accepted, evidence-based treatment for opioid addiction.
Its safety for human use is still an ongoing area of study. Heart arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) have been reported following use of the drug.
Other health complications, like ataxia, gastrointestinal issues, seizures, and severe hallucinations can also occur.
Factors that can influence health risks include:
- dose taken
- your medical history
- co-occurring medical or mental health conditions
- nature of your use
Using Ibogaine To Treat Addiction
Some researchers are working with the federal government to turn non-psychedelic analogs of psychedelics like ibogaine into safe medicines capable of treating substance use disorder.
A Massachusetts-based startup, for example, is currently working with the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to test a patented version of ibogaine as a potential addiction treatment.
Is Ibogaine A Cure For Opioid Addiction?
Psychedelics being studied as addiction treatments, like ibogaine or psilocybin, cannot conclusively be said to be a cure for opioid addiction.
While some of its demonstrated benefits for treating opioid use disorder are promising, evidence-based treatments, like behavioral therapy and medication, are recommended.
What Is The Most Effective Treatment For Opioid Addiction?
While some early research suggests ibogaine therapy for opioid addiction holds some promise, that treatment is not currently widely available in the U.S.
The most effective treatment for opioid addiction is medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
This type of treatment involves taking a FDA-approved medication (e.g. methadone, buprenorphine) in addition to attending drug counseling and behavioral therapy.
This can help both the mind and body heal from the effects of opioid addiction, and is offered within our treatment programs at Bedrock Recovery Center.
Find Help For Opioid Addiction At Our Massachusetts Recovery Center
Bedrock Recovery Center is a leading substance abuse and dual diagnosis treatment center based in Canton, Massachusetts.
Our opioid addiction treatment programs include opioid detoxification (detox), residential treatment, and dual diagnosis treatment
If you’re looking for addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, call our helpline to learn more about the treatment programs we offer.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Time Magazine — Inside Ibogaine: A Promising and Perilous Drug for Addiction
U.S. National Library of Medicine: PubMed — Ibogaine treatment outcomes for opioid dependence from a twelve-month follow-up observational study
U.S. National Library of Medicine: PubMed — Treating drug dependence with the aid of ibogaine: a retrospective study