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A Bad Time with Ibogaine

Ibogaine flower. About ten years ago, I came into contact with a fellow who told me a fantastic tale, all about this so called "Underground Miracle Cure For Addictions". He explained that it was a powder made from the root of the sacred African Ebogah tree, and that it was called "Ibogaine," and that it was a hallucinogenic used as a "rites of passage experience" for young African boys of approximately fourteen years of age, and who it is claimed "become men over night" after this Ibogaine venture.

The Miracle Cure

Sun shining. He said that during the sixties, his friend and business partner discovered, apparently accidently, Ibogaine and its "miraculous properties" during one of his many experiments with mind altering substances, drugs like Peyote, Mescaline, LSD-25, and other less well known hallucinogens. He claimed that he noticed immediately after his "Ibogaine trip" that he no longer craved the heroin he had been addicted to for quite a while. Whether or not this actually did happen to him--I can't say. What I can say is that it didn't happen to me.

As a hopeless heroin and Cocaine addict--I had reason to be very interested in this fantastic tale. But alas, it was nothing but hogwash--expensive hogwash: they bilked me out of three thousand dollars when I was a destitute drug addict, covered with sores and looking like I was getting ready to die on the spot. In order to get this money, I began to prostitute myself. As I already mentioned, it didn't work. It didn't work because it doesn't work. In fact, not only was I not cured of my drug addiction, but it did not stop my withdrawal symptoms.

Zero Out of Five

I know five people, including myself, who have undergone the ibogaine treatment, and none of them were cured. Two of them, (one took Ibogaine twice and the other took it five or more times) are dead of Heroin overdoses. The third continued to take Cocaine after the ibogaine experience without missing a beat. I am currently on methadone maintenance--cure in some sense, but not due to the ibogaine.

Ibogaine molecule. Only one of the five people claims to be cured. But there is no doubt that he is still hooked on heroin. He will gladly stop whatever he's doing and tell anyone, "how Ibogaine cured him of addiction". He does this while his pupils are so pinned as to not even be present, and the poor man can't seem to stop scratching his nose long enough to complete a sentence. All the while he's making his ibogaine testimonials, his poor, long suffering wife rolls her eyes as she mumbles softly under her breath to no one in particular.

The word is that the price for the ibogaine treatment has gone up to between ten and eighteen thousand dollars per application--no small sum. And we all know who shoulders the burden of this cost for the most part: the families--the desperate and broken hearted families of these unfortunate addicts who pay their hard earned money. Regardless of who pays, however, it is a travesty.

Woman taking a bath. The Detox: My Experience

The plan was that I was to take my last shot of Heroin/Cocaine at about twelve midnight, then go to sleep. The next morning when I awoke, instead of taking my wake up shot of narcotics, I would take the Ibogaine. It was about midnight when I got started taking my "last fix". My supervisor did not watch over me, however. He smoked marijuana to oblivion and passed out. He didn't wake up until 5:00 a.m. when he found me still in the bathroom using.

The Absent Supervisor

He hit the ceiling and began screaming and carrying on like a maniac--furious at me. Wait a minute--I was supposed to be "the patient" and he was supposed to be "the supervisor" of this little trip. I feel it was his responsibility to see that things ran according to schedule. After all, I was loaded on drugs and could hardly be expected to keep track of the hour, not to mention, there was no clock in the bathroom. And last but not least, I was admittedly and deliberately zonked out of my skull--this was supposed to be my last fix--I wanted to make it good.

Student sleep at his desk. Completely ignoring the fact that we were in a public hotel room packed with illicit drugs and contraband, he still started screaming. I could not believe how graphic he got--going into intricate detail. "What the fuck are you doing still shooting drugs in the bathroom?! Look at you with a needle in your arm when you were supposed to be asleep hours ago!"

I could not believe how he was endangering our welfare. It took me a good ten minutes to finally quiet him down--after much reminding of the possibility of going to jail. After that, we calmed down a little, and decided to take an extended nap.

The Trip Begins

Ibogaine plant. About twelve noon, he woke me up. Without waiting for me to go into withdrawals, he gave me the ibogaine, which I administered to myself by enema. (I chose this manner because I wanted to avoid the nausea and vomiting that often accompany the taking of ibogaine). About forty five minutes later, it began to hit me and I began to have my so called trip.

Upping the Ante

Twenty four hours after I had my initial ibogaine dose--around one the next afternoon--a friend of mine who had been through the ibogaine treatment stopped by the hotel to check on me and see how I was making out. I told her I hadn't experienced any of the visions she had. Apparently, she spoke with another person involved in this ibogaine business, because he came to see me soon afterwards. He gave me a gelatin capsule filled with powdered Ebogah root (ibogaine). I took it, and laid quietly in the bed while he sat on the couch. Some forty-five minutes later, the ibogaine hit me again. Harder. I grew frightened and I told this to him. He responded, "You shouldn't be afraid of ibogaine--you should be afraid of that crap you inject into your arms."

Cards, dice, chips, and lots of money. I was reassured by his confidence and the reality of his statement. I then relaxed and settled down to have the rest of my trip.

I still never did experience hallucinations, although the light did take on a funny pattern; that was about the extent of my "visions". Other than a few vivid daydreams, there were no hallucinations to speak of and this was truly disappointing for me.

When the Ibogaine first wore off - I wasn't sick yet--just feeling kind of normal. At around five in the morning, my supervisor and I began celebrating (prematurely). We were dancing around the room like idiots. I was so happy. I really thought it had worked. I was deliriously overjoyed. We kept saying "Thirteen years on dope--out the window! Thirteen years on methadone--out the window! Thirteen years of cocaine--out the window!"

Withdrawal Comes Suddenly

We both became quite hungry, so we ordered room service. By the time breakfast arrived, however, I could no longer eat. Not only that, but the smell of the bacon and eggs was making me sick. Even the coffee, usually my favorite thing in the morning, was to me, undrinkable. The best I could do was a few swallows of orange juice. Then, it got worse.

Hot cup of coffee. I began to suffer from muscle spasms--my biggest difficulty with kicking and which usually leads to grand maul convulsions. I was starting to experience these violent and brutal muscle spasms. They literally had me rolling all over the floor. I was involuntarily throwing myself all over the place. I started to grow frightened--more and more frightened by the minute because I didn't know where this was going to lead.

My supervisor then called for two of his friends to come to the hotel. They turned out to be a nice friendly couple, a man and a woman. The young lady began to administer loving back-rubs to me--but alas, I couldn't hold still long enough for her to do the job.

At this point, I also began to suffer from bad backaches and my kidneys were on fire. I began to fear I would go into convulsions as I was already exhibiting the warning signs, such as petite maul seizures. Remember that I was kicking heroin and methadone so I was concerned that in addition to all the pain, I might die.

Escape!

taxicabs in multi-color fog. I decided that I had better get out of there while I still could walk. My plan was to go to my methadone program and get a dose. When I informed the supervisor of this, he refused to give me cab fare home. He did this even though I was soaking wet with perspiration and it was snowing and freezing outside--even though I looked like I had just been run over by a mac truck--even though he had just relieved me of the last penny I had in the entire world. He allowed me to leave the hotel without a cent.

I looked so bad. No cabs would even pick me up. It took me nearly ten minutes of shivering uncontrollably out on the cold lonely street before I could finally get a taxi to stop and take me home. My roommate was waiting for me and paid for the cab while I went to my program (a block from my house) and got some methadone after which I came home and went to bed--exhausted.

Think Before Using Ibogaine

It is possible that ibogaine helps some people get off dope. Anyone who is thinking about using ibogaine should be very careful and consider the following list.

  1. Research the people who are administering the treatment.
  2. Research the treatment itself. Talk to as many people as you can who have undergone this treatment.
  3. Compare the cost of ibogaine treatment with that of other treatments.

Editor's Note: When I first read this piece, it seemed to me that the ibogaine had stopped the heroin withdrawal symptoms. I asked the writer about this. She pointed out that she was on methadone as well as heroin and so did not go into withdrawal as quickly as she would have had she only been on heroin. On reflection, this made sense. It had been approximately 24 hours since her last heroin dose and about 40 hours since her last methadone dose. Reader comments on this issue are especially welcome.

by Anne Lombardo Ardolino © 2001
Edited by Dr. H
Last Modified: 12 January 2004

Editor's Note: I received the follow anonymous e-mail in reply to this article.

In regards to the bad experience with ibogaine - the writer has a very valid point. Be sure you check out the credentials of the person providing this substance. My sister died after ingesting ibogaine this summer. The man who provided it is fine, still making his fortune off of the innocents. Please warn your readers, as I am broken hearted.

I have never heard of this before, and I am looking for an Ibogaine expert to comment on this.


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