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Inside a Mexican Ibogaine Treatment Clinic - A Growing Alternative to Treat Drug Addiction

A look at Crossroads, which uses the African ibogaine plant to treat drug addiction.

Burning text from Alesha to Doug: “Pack a bag and be ready for anything.”

Our most epic adventures begin with these words. Within a couple hours, we’re in the back seat of a Nissan Xterra, bumping down the living streets of Tijuana, Mexico, our lives securely in the hands of Dr. Martin Polanco. Martin is a good guy, 38, obviously brilliant, devoted, charming, Mexican-Austrian, perfect English, a deep, strong ancient warrior energy rumbling just below the surface of his gentle and soft-spoken manner. A guy you definitely want to know, and want on your side.

The subject is ibogaine and addiction recovery. Dr. Polanco is something of an expert in the field. His personal search for outside-the-box solutions to addiction can be traced to the suffering of a close family member. “My family was desperate,” he tells us. “The pain was so great. Here was this wonderful, amazing person, someone we all loved deeply, whose life had been totally wrecked by drugs. Traditional recovery methods were useless. It became my personal mission to find an answer, to find some way to help.”  

Although he started his schooling in ophthalmology – the medical specialty of “helping people to see” – Polanco abandoned his residence training after a year (it was divine timing) to undertake his quest for answers. That, and curiosity about indigenous medicines dating back to his teenage years, eventually led to extensive work with ibogaine and to becoming a medical doctor at the age of 23 (the norm in Mexico). He’s been treating patients – or guests as they are known at his Crossroads Treatment Center – for the past 14 years. Before 2006, he tells us, he personally administered treatment more than 600 times. Since then, the clinic’s expanded medical staff has treated several hundreds more addicts, mostly from the U.S., seeking deep rehabilitation, at a soul level. 

We are bumping along to a visit to Crossroads, chosen for inspection via the recommendation of a documentary filmmaker friend who has conducted extensive research in the field seeking a medically-operated, advanced and successful ibogaine-focused addiction treatment center in Mexico. This is a country in which ibogaine treatment centers, some if not many of them fly-by-night, have been rapidly proliferating to address the consuming demand for some truly effective relief from the addiction epidemic in the U.S. and elsewhere. Our friend had told us that if our personal concern for the safety of our Fix-family led us to choose a quality ibogaine clinic operated under high medically-supervised standards and ethical responsibility rather than undertake a broad survey of Mexican ibo clinics, Crossroads was the place. Of course, we wanted to see for ourselves and form our own opinions.

Crash course in ibogaine: It’s a medicinal alkaloid from the root of the Iboga bush common to Gabon, Cameroon, and other hot, wet African places, where it is known as “Holy Wood” and has been central to indigenous spiritual, divinatory and diagnostic practices for thousands of years. It is scientifically classified as an “entheogen”- one of the sacred earth medicines that “generate the God within” along with an other-worldly consciousness. Considered by many to be the most powerful psychedelic known to mankind, it was made illegal in the U.S. in the great drug purges of the late 1960s, along with pretty much anything else with psychoactive properties, despite a growing body of research pointing to its effectiveness in treating addiction, particularly opioid drugs like heroin. All legal research with these potential medicines was suspended in the U.S. for four decades, during which time America’s opiate addiction – both legally prescribed and dealer supplied – grew from an east-coast ripple into a heartland tidal wave.

There have been numerous short-term research studies that establish a credible scientific basis for ibogaine’s interaction with brain receptors to disrupt cravings and opiate withdrawal symptoms. In early animal experiments, it was found that the drug acts as an opioid antagonist which dramatically reduces symptoms of withdrawal and, crucially, opiate self-administration. It appears to act directly on the serotonin and dopamine systems as well. As ibogaine bonds with opiate receptors in the brain, it returns these receptors to a “pre-addicted” state. This buys the person a stretch of “addiction-interruption,” free from withdrawals or cravings – a time best used by working on any underlying emotional and psychological factors contributing to addiction. 

After a time, some cravings tend to return, though in a much weaker way – having much to do with personal metabolism and the way each person’s body converts ibogaine into nor-ibogaine, stores it in the liver and releases it slowly into the system over time.  

No definitive and comprehensive success/failure studies exist, though long-term successes have been claimed by a number of treatment centers, some of these bolstered by YouTube testimonial videos. One study by science researcher Howard Lotsof, who claimed ibogaine cured him of heroin addiction before he went on to patent several ibogaine treatments, indicated we’re looking at a three to six months window of no cravings after just one treatment, and considerable better success with more treatments. That same study reported: “It is noteworthy that 29 of the 35 patients successfully treated with ibogaine had numerous unsuccessful experiences with other treatment modalities.”

Even under the best of circumstances, Dr. Polanco estimates the percentage of opiate addicts who get clean and stay that way for more than a year at around 25%-30%; the percentage drops to around 20% with other drugs and alcohol. What is clearer from available research and testimonials is that recovering addicts, at minimum, buy themselves time to make the necessary choices and changes in their lives that support their continued recovery.  

Quite apart from its therapeutic effect on brain receptors, the experience of ibogaine as described by those who have taken it, is, in every sense, a deep, therapeutic and even sacramental rite of passage - an initiation into higher realms of the spirit. Its lessons can be aversive, confrontational, frightening. It can call us out in unimaginable ways, give us a squirming look under the rock of our lives, compel us to unearth and examine what we’ve buried in the black muck of our unconscious. It can also give us a taste of total freedom, of merging with The One in the Divine Light, even as it forces us to reckon with (and then for many who experience it, blessedly frees us from) lifetimes of karma; to reckon also with our pain, torment and suffering, with the chains of our attachments in the physical and non-physical planes. At the very least, ibogaine – as with all the sacred earth medicines – deserves to be approached with the utmost humility and respect.

Far from its primeval forest roots in West Equatorial Africa – where each iboga initiate receives rigorous physical and spiritual training and preparation for what is to be the most important religious sacrament of their lives – here in the west the internet offers medical treatment models, lay provider guides, activist/self-help practitioners, and spiritual/religious retreats. All of these programs vary widely in their practices, facilities, services, costs, and ethical orientation. You have to know in advance what you’re looking for, and be willing to do real due diligence to make sure you’re getting it. 

THE CROSSROADS TREATMENT CLINIC is housed in a sparkling, Zen-clean modern building in what is regarded as the safest and most modern area of Tijuana. The clinic here is so new; a couple floors of the building aren’t even finished yet. Plans to expand into the remaining floors are being realized with open spaces, living walls, human design.  

Staffed by three full-time doctors (two of whom we found are always present during treatment sessions) as well as round-the-clock nursing, psychological and support staff, the clinic maintains both state of the art advanced life-support capabilities and a gentle, spiritually authentic atmosphere. Because ibogaine can be a rough journey for the heart (there have been 19 deaths reported around the world between 1990 and 2008), all patients undergo rigorous medical exams and are rejected for treatment if they fail.  The clinic medical staff, we witness, screens for heart and circulatory problems and takes a detailed pharmacological history to make sure that patients don't have drugs or supplements in their system that interact with ibogaine. All prospective clients undergo a 12-lead ECG (EKG) and some are required to wear a Holter monitor and are rejected if anomalies appear. Liver function and electrolyte levels are examined with blood work. 

Patients are also required to prove they are clean, including of certain pharmaceuticals, and drug tests are administered daily until the medical staff is as certain as it possibly can be that no drugs or other substances contra-indicated for ibogaine are present. The clinic screens for an extensive list of contraindicated drugs, pharmaceuticals, supplements and foods. Even so, Dr. Polanco readily informs us, about 1% of clients require medical attention after ibogaine treatment, some of whom have found ways to cheat. Some studies have shown that 1 in 300 patients dies from taking ibogaine.  

The staff  turns out to be uniformly warm, friendly, bright, welcoming, and something more: Every staffer we encounter, from the doctors and nurses to the drivers and security guards, radiates what we describe to each other as a truthful and sweet intelligence and compassionate nature, such that, as we both comment, we experience them as deeply comforting and inexpressibly wise. In fact, we remark to each other, somewhat poetically, that they are like guardians of an ancient wisdom who are grateful for the chance to share. As we learn from our interviews, almost all of Dr. Polanco’s staff (cooks and cleaners included) has experienced an ibogaine session for themselves which, they tell us, has had a profoundly positive effect on their inner and outer lives and how they relate to other people. “It helps them understand what our guests are going through,” Dr. Polanco explains. 

During our stay at Crossroads Clinic and at the upscale beachfront mansion located between Rosarito Beach and Ensenada that serves as the clinic’s guest housing and recovery center, we had the honor to be invited by several addicted or alcoholic guests to participate with them both before and after their ibogaine treatment as first-hand witnesses to what they would claim were remarkable journeys in recovery. What follows are details about out direct experiences with two of the guests. 

Big, bright, funny and loyal as a Saint-Bernard, James became our instant friend and immediate champion upon our arrival at the beach house. As he prepared for his work with ibogaine, we came to learn that beneath James’ ebullient smile and winning ways yawned a well of pain and torment as bottomless as any hardcore addict, a desperation and hopelessness that far outstripped his scant 23 years on Earth. James, we learn, is addicted to methamphetamines.  

James on James: “I’ve destroyed everything and everyone in my life,” he confides to us. “I can’t go home again. I’ve lied, cheated and stolen; I’ve been fired from jobs, lived on the street, done so much damage that all the ‘amends’ in the world wouldn’t begin to fix it. I can’t stay clean, even though I know I have to. That’s my biggest fear, that I’ll get out of here and go right back to the same life as before. If that happens, I’m already done. I might as well be dead already.  I’m not, am I?”

James is restless as he leaves the beach house for the clinic on the morning of his ibogaine session. He tells us got zero sleep - his mind just wouldn’t leave him alone, berating him with all that fear and failure he had shared with us. Still, as he pulls away in the van bound for Tijuana, he flashes a confident smile and two thumbs up.  

When James returns to the beach house two days after treatment (clients are warned that the first day after treatment can be extremely unpleasant), he looks as if he’s been to war. He’s pale and shaky, doesn’t want to talk, says he doesn’t mean to be rude but is anyway. He manages a crooked grin in our direction. “Un-fuckin-believable,” he rasps. 

Dr. Martin Polanco
Photo Credit: 
The Fix

Two days post-treatment, we are sitting together under the watchful care of Anny Ortiz, the onsite therapist, who works with guests before, during and after treatment. Originally from Hermosillo, Sonora, Anny is both a U.S. trained psychologist and a linear wisdom-keeper of the indigenous medicine tradition.  Clearly very smart and knowledgeable, her role is to prepare Crossroads guests for their interstellar flights, then help them to integrate their experiences. Through biofeedback and breathing, she’s taken James into a deep state of relaxation. His eyes are closed, his body open, his words unchecked as he recounts the horrors of the first few hours of his ibogaine treatment: the purging, the shaking, the mental noise, the total overwhelm, the waves of fear and regret, the assault of mental imagery, memories, scenes from his life, this growing feeling of rage and struggle like he was going to explode, the creeping sense that if this is what ibogaine is, he is totally fucked.  

James: “Then, it’s like, I saw something on the other side of all that, something bright… luminous. I knew I had to get there – but I was stuck in all this shit and noise and the terrible things I’ve done to people and the even worse things people have done to me… and every time I’d try to get out I’d get sucked right back in and I’d feel that… rage… rising up again… and I would do anything to make it stop!  It’s like, ‘Do I have to fucking die?! And then this very clear voice, kind of like a game-show host, said:  ‘Don’t die. Forgive.’”  

James pauses. His lips quiver; his eyelids tighten. And right there, before our eyes, James seems to kick back into his ibogaine experience. His breath sharpens; his movements become twitches and shivers. After a time the tears come – for all of us, actually. His words pour out like a litany as he starts to forgive – himself, his parents, the people in his life, friends and enemies, anyone who’s ever hurt him, anyone he’s ever hurt; he’s naming names, releasing rivers of pain and regret, asking to be cleansed, forgiven. His voice becomes barely audible, his whispered prayers punctuated by such statements as: “So beautiful,” “Oh my God,” and “Thank you.”  

Ten minutes later James is holding us all in a big group hug. “I love you guys so much,” he says, his gentle yin reciprocal to his bearlike physicality. “Thank you for being with me for this experience. It means more to me than you’ll ever know.”

Over the next few days, James’s inner and outer talk begins to change. He articulates a vision for a new life. He tells us he believes now that it’s possible to repair some of the damage in his life. Even more important, he says, for the first time he feels as if he’ll be able to stay clean. Even though he has been a caregiver to kids with Downs-syndrome for a few years, James says he now realizes that his life’s purpose is helping others. He understands that the calling of his heart is his devotion to service, to the difference he can make. While still at Crossroads, he reconnects with his mom, who invites him to come back home. He also reaches out to his former employer (who fired him for using drugs) and is told that when he’s ready, there’s still a job for him. 

James remains in touch with us post-treatment. His phone calls are sweet, upbeat, full of optimism and enthusiasm. He’s back to work and has moved from his mom’s into a sober living community.

***

Then there is Ronny. Look up “squirrely” in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of Ronny dealing with the aftermath of his ibogaine experience. Ronny is raw, edgy, suspicious, and obviously in a lot of pain. His journey has been nothing like the blissful trip he was expecting despite the warnings and preparation he received at Crossroads. He is anxious, irritable, even hostile. The ibogaine didn’t work, he swears. Oh, it made him sick and uncomfortable, all right, but in terms of like a big sacred psychedelic revelation or something - total bullshit! A huge fucking waste of time and money. He wants nothing to do with us, with the staff, or with Martin Polanco. He thumps off to his room and slams the door. We all look at each other. Dr. Polanco shrugs. “Sometimes, on the day after ibogaine,” he says, “we’re not their favorite people in the world.”

When he shows up at breakfast the next morning, Ronny’s a completely different person. He slept the whole night through, can’t remember the last time he was able to do that. He’s totally chill, smiling, radiant. It’s been several days since his last dose of heroin. He’s completely free of withdrawals or cravings. He feels – his word – “amazing.” 

He’s bright, charming, easy to talk to, authentically looking at his life and his path forward from here with thoughtful optimism, though he is guarded about his immediate future. He’s basically headed back to the scene of his former life, justifiably concerned about reconnecting with the same circle of practicing addicts that enabled his habit before he came to Crossroads. He is deeply aware of the hazard this reality presents to his new sobriety. We all share that concern. Martin Polanco graciously offers to allow Ronny to stay at the beach house for a while at no extra charge to allow him time to create a plan for his return to the world.

Although the early results we witnessed at Crossroads are compelling, as reporters we wanted to know the fates of some of the former clients who Dr. Polanco claims are longer-term success stories. We ask to be connected to three people with at least a year of sobriety after treatment. Dr. Polanco arranges this within 24 hours. Here are summaries of our interviews with the two of these clients and with the psychologist mother of a third. 

AMANDA: A former prescription opiate addict involved with “pretty much everything” since she was 16, Amanda experienced a “moderate” five-year addiction to pain meds and numerous attempts to quit, detox, rehab. There were the lost jobs, the lost loves, the lost baby, the broken family, the bottomless hopelessness and despair. She finally turned to suboxone, which spun her into a nightmare from which she thought she’d never recover - a medically-induced addiction that required 300mg daily of short-acting narcotics to detox her prior to her ibogaine treatment. 

Ibogaine, she tells us, “was more powerful than anything I had ever imagined, even with extensive experience with psychedelics. It was as if I was part of an all-knowing Universe, one that knew me and loved me absolutely. It took me all the way to the bottom of myself, showed me everything about my life, all the stuff about my addiction, my relationships, my family, my ancestors, my lineage, everything and everyone like… intertwined. At one point, I saw everyone in my life as a kind of circus, everybody doing their own routines, with no real connection or relationship to the others, except that we’re all in the same circus together. And I saw that it was all right, and I was able to just let go of trying to control, impress, fix, judge, condemn. I was able, at last, to simply surrender.  

“I felt as though I was being restructured from the ground up, at the very cellular level, renewed, restored, reborn. Even telling it now, I’m not even close to how powerful and intense it was. At a point I found myself in my bed, which was burning with a magenta fire – a flame of purification. All around my bed, and within the fire, were these tiny brown ladies chanting and singing and praying and meditating over me. I recognized them as my ancient ancestors, saw myself at the center of a timeless transdimensional healing ritual.  I knew it was time to for me to receive this, that it was something like a karmic unfolding, a very important moment in my life.  It was like coming home after being gone for a very long time."

Despite the opening into a wider vision, Amanda found, her body still had to detox afterward from years of embedded drug toxicity. Unlike many people who experience ibogaine, she made sure she had supportive aftercare and chose Crossroads for it. 

“My aftercare and early recovery were extremely challenging. My body was in an extreme detox for several months – night sweats, nausea, dehydration, manic restless legs, long sleepless nights. It got a little better every day, but it was a really tough time. There were times when I literally begged Martin to put me back on suboxone. He and the Crossroads staff stayed in close touch with me throughout the entire process. At one point, I actually had a pill in my hand. I was right on the edge, just about to take it when the phone rang.  It was Deanne, my counselor, and she’s like, ‘What’re you doing right now?’ That call was an absolute miracle. I swear it saved my life.

“I’ve been clean ever since, a year and a half now. There were still some challenging times, but I was so much clearer, and I got so much better. The Crossroads people supported me all the way. I still talk to Deanne all the time. I’ve got a job that I love, an amazing new boyfriend, my relationships with my family are healed; my life is totally different than it was. I’m healthier and happier than I can ever remember being. I have no craving or desire for the drugs that used to control my life. It is as if they have simply been removed from my life. I’ve been given a chance to hit the reset button, to begin my life again.

“Ibogaine is not a miracle drug. You have to really want it, and you have to be willing to do the work, and it is some of the most challenging work I’ve ever done in my life. You also want to make sure you’re doing it safely, with people you know you can trust. But if you are ready, then ibogaine will definitely change your life.”

ZACK: Former heroin addict, a self-described “absolute mess.” Done it all, tried everything, couldn’t get clean no matter what. A friend heard about ibogaine, did the research, found Crossroads, and shepherded Zack into treatment, because, says Zack, “I really couldn’t do much for myself.”

“My ibogaine treatment was the most intense, scary, overwhelming, powerful and profoundly beneficial experience of my life. There’s just no way to put it into words… especially if you don’t have extensive experience with psychedelics. It goes way beyond anything I ever experienced before. I could talk for hours about it, but to be honest, it’s not the trip itself that matters. It’s what happens after, in how you take the things ibogaine teaches you and put them to work in your life. The bottom line is that ibogaine did what it promised, did what I was praying for: it took me through opiate detox with no withdrawals or cravings. But I also recognized that my freedom depended on my willingness to leverage to it to change my life in a radical way. 

“I dove into action through the window ibogaine opened for me. I got very involved in 12-step recovery, worked the steps relentlessly; I sponsor other guys. I’m doing work that I love – I help people make money – and that combines with a sense of service both in my personal life and in my work.  It’s an amazing way to live!”

Sparkling clean for almost two years, Zack adds: “I was terrified before I went for treatment, like this was my last hope, my last shot on planet earth. It’s important to realize this is not a magic bullet or a quick fix. It is a profoundly powerful medicine that has the capacity to completely transform your life. Be true to yourself before you go, know what you’re going for, and be willing to do the work.”

***

TARA: “I’m a therapist, a caretaker,” Tara shares. “The toughest thing I ever had to do was to let go.” Her daughter Vanja’s heroin addiction had taken them to the edge of the abyss. There were jails, hospitals, rehabs. “The worst one? We sent her for four months to one of those high-end places in Malibu - $53,000 a month. We spent almost a quarter of a million dollars on that one. Vanja came home 40 pounds heavier, with multiple pathological 'diagnoses' and addicted to 13 prescription medications. She relapsed on her first day out of rehab.” Tara’s voice cracks a little. “I’m sorry. It was just so painful.  We’d put all our hopes into this, what we were sure was her last chance. When she relapsed on day one, it was like hearing a death sentence… for both of us. I knew I couldn’t live like that anymore. I didn’t want to live at all anymore.”

By grace, Tara was led to a healing experience with another sacred plant medicine. “I came to see the roots of my own co-dependency with my daughter’s addiction, how if either of us was to have a chance, I had to let her go and pray that she would find her way. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do as a parent, but I knew I had to do it. It wasn’t long before my daughter was full-on in her addiction, homeless on the streets of Toronto in January.

“When my daughter contacted me about ibogaine, there was no money for treatment. We’d already spent everything many times over. Still, my own research convinced me this might be the very thing Vanja needed.  So I sprung for her treatment with a credit card. I remember thinking, ‘I’m putting my daughter’s life on my American Express card. Don’t leave home without it.’ Vanja was an absolute wreck. Tara didn’t think she would ever make it to Mexico for treatment, but she took her hands off the wheel and let Vanja handle it herself. 

Tara doesn’t talk much about her daughter’s ibogaine experience, preferring to keep that in the realm of privileged information.  “She came home about a week later. She was totally transformed, like she’d been clean for a year. I knew right away something major had happened when the first words out of her lips were, ‘How are you, mom?’ She actually cared about someone besides herself.” I never worried about her after that, like she would relapse or something. This was like a wholly different person, a different kind of ‘clean’ than I’d ever seen before.”

Vanja’s been clean for a year and a half, and, Tara says, continues to be loving, radiant, accountable, dependable. Relationships with the whole family are greatly improved. Vanja’s been able to grieve the shattering loss of her fiancé in a car accident some years back, and has found new love and nurturing work with kids. Finding that “12-step meetings just didn’t work for her” Vanja chose not to seek out any formal aftercare management, treatment or therapy. Despite this, Vanja has no cravings and exhibits no inclination toward her former behaviors. “It’s like someone returned the daughter they stole from me 15 years ago,” Tara says.

“The moment I let go, the teachers came. I had to accept their lessons and learn to trust. In this way, I empowered my daughter to find the help she needed. Enabling is disabling! Yes, I recommend ibogaine, especially if you’ve already tried and failed with other approaches. It is something else entirely. My daughter believed she could never get clean, never get free… but here she is! This is by no means a magic potion. You have to be ready to dig deep and do the work. Yes, you want to have your treatment supervised by someone whose medical expertise and professional ethics you can trust. You know, you hear a lot about the so-called risks. Compared to the risks of heroin addiction – which is like 100% certainty of death if you don’t get clean - the risks of ibogaine, properly managed, are like a walk in the park.”

Dr. Martin Polanco (right) with Crossroads staffers.
Photo Credit: 
The Fix

One obvious conclusion from these interviews is the potentially crucial role of aftercare provided by people who understand ibogaine. Crossroads assesses that it needs to step up its capacities here, both to meet demand and out of the belief that it will dramatically improve the relapse rate. “The critical third leg of our recovery program – an affordable Clean Living component which would allow our guests to manage their transition into their new lives– is still very much in need” is how Deanne Adamson, the upbeat Clinical Supervisor and recovery coach who guides Crossroads clients from pre-intake through post-discharge, put it. “We’ve done a lot of work to create an aftercare model consistent with our principles and a business plan for our expansion; the clients are already lined up to move in.” The plan calls for a new residential setting down the beach from the recovery house, followed quickly by a second residence north of the border in San Diego County. One challenge: handling licensing and regulation hurdles imposed stateside for a Mexican healthcare company to set up shop in the U.S. – particularly one working with Schedule 1 substances. 

It’s early morning at the beach house. We’re outside sharing hugs, smiles and tears as we say goodbye to staff and clients, our new friends. Our parting view is to the breakers beyond the beach, where the pod of dolphins that live here leap, dive, surf, frolic in the rolling waves, sharing their own ancient medicine. 

***

A cautionary footnote: Even with ibogaine as a transformative agent, as the interviews indicate there’s no escaping the inner work to be done after treatment. No substance will completely clear all the damage, the wreckage, the peer influences, the long-term patterns of thought, action and behavior that dominate an addict’s life experience and deprive one of health, meaning, satisfaction and abundance. If, however, addict or not, you’re ready to take a deep look at yourself, however difficult or painful that might be, if you’re willing to open the window of opportunity revealed by this most sacred of medicines, to embrace its ancient wisdom and powerful teachings and completely re-order your life in recovery, then ibogaine will give you the chance. It is definitely not a drug to take socially, or in pursuit of the ultimate high.  

The side effects during the experience are well-documented – loss of muscle control, tremors, light-sensitivity, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms usually subside within a couple of days. More serious complications arise with changes in blood pressure, pulse, dehydration from vomiting, heart arrhythmias, potentiation and interaction with opiates and other drugs. Thus you must choose your ibogaine treatment center carefully to be sure you are thoroughly pre-screened and competently attended to during treatment. Individuals with pre-existing cardiac conditions or risk factors – prior heart attack, cardiomyopathy, arterial, heart-valve or cardiopulmonary disease – need to be especially careful around ibogaine and be certain that emergency care is close by. 

Or consider the scenario of a person addicted to opiates who goes into ibogaine treatment afraid that it won’t work, and carries a secret stash of pain meds to the session just in case. If unbeknownst to attending staff the person takes their usual dose with ibogaine in their system, with a brain reset to pre-addiction tolerance levels, it likely will be their last dark dance on Earth. If you choose to pursue the path of ibogaine, know what you’re getting into, accept the risks responsibly and choose wisely. As we’ve sought to make clear here, this is no rave date.

Doug Heyes M.A is a writer, healing artist and outdoor rescuer from Southern California. Alesha Carlander is on the editorial staff of The Fix.

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