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My Heroin-Addicted Friend Was Determined to Detox with the Hallucinogen Ibogaine ... I Scored It for Him and Supervised His Trip

A first-hand account of a very alternative approach to escaping a terrible addiction.
 
 
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Photo Credit: SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

 

It was November 5, the night before the presidential election, and  The Simpsons was on TV when Seth, a 40-year-old Asian-American opiate addict, began puking in my bathroom.

He had been hanging around for a few hours, letting himself get “as ill as I can stand,” because he had been told that the Ibogaine would be more effective that way. Dragging himself back to the living room, he curled into a ball on the floor and gazed up at the TV listlessly. But he was confident that relief—in the form of 40 large gel caps, filled with “Iboga Root Bark”—was lined up in a neat row atop my kitchen counter.

“I think I’m ready to start taking them, man,” he said in a low voice.

Seth, a 20-year heroin addict, had been talking to me about taking Ibogaine to break his heroin addiction for months. But it would have to be in an underground setting because Ibogaine is a regulated as a controlled I substance; according to the DEA, it has high abuse potential, no medical benefit and high risk. He had heard about several moonlight Ibogaine operations that had popped up in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side. Having been off opiates for five years thanks to a slow steady methadone reduction I was curious about the reality behind the rumors that had swirled around Ibogaine over the years.

Seth said he felt trapped by the “bureaucratic harassment” at the methadone clinic he visited nearly every day. After spending almost half his life on opiates, taking yet another one was grinding him down.

All his other friends had backed off the Ibogaine set-up after hearing what it might entail. He would say, “Basically, you’ll have to watch me for eight hours while I’m peaking,” an understatement of the time involved. Finally, realizing that he had nowhere else to go, I agreed to let him self-administer the Ibogaine at my apartment with the proviso that if something went wrong I would call EMS. There was no turning back. I was about to become a reluctant “guide” for my friend’s Ibogaine trip. 

It wasn’t easy to find a source of Ibogaine. One afternoon we walked over to the Yippie Museum Café in downtown Manhattan. In the late '90s and early aughts, when I had lived a block away, the café’s founder, A. J. Weberman, had been dedicated to the

It wasn’t easy to find a source of Ibogaine. One afternoon we walked over to the Yippie Museum Café in downtown Manhattan. In the late '90s and early aughts, when I had lived a block away, the café’s founder, A. J. Weberman, had been dedicated to the popularization of Ibogaine as an addiction-curbing wonder drug. But the café had recently gotten state funding and the old Ibogaine displays had been replaced by stacks of Occupy-type literature.

fter spending weeks chasing down a rumor about a nurse in Brooklyn who was administering Ibogaine for several hundred bucks a treatment, Seth learned she was out of business. As lead after lead petered out, he became increasingly pessimistic.

Then Seth discovered the  Silk Road—the notorious stealth web bazaar for all things drug related—where there are Ibogaine vendors by the dozens. (Ibogaine is unregulated in Canada and Mexico, the sources of many US imports of the drug.) He bought $300 worth from a source that looked legit. It arrived in the mail several weeks later, and he let it sit in his drawer for another month. Then in October Seth he lost his job, bought a ticket to Maui, Hawaii, and needed the promised quick fix for real.

 
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