Why Thousands Are Turning to a Psychedelic Plant from Africa for Release from Severe Addictions
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Clare proved to be an autodidact, an honorary Ph.D in addiction like Howard Lotsof, but she also knew that if she really wanted to understand this medicine she needed to reach out to Lotsof in person, to pay her respects to the Godfather.
“I called and introduced myself to Howard when I bought the clinic. He asked me for my C.V. which I didn’t have, so I felt embarrassed. But he understood. He faced the same challenges in life, not having any formal training (Lostoff had a degree in film from NYU). He treated me like a colleague and told me that the underground was vital to the success of this medicine. He was right. I’ve learned more from the underground than anyone else.”
In a span of less than four years Lotsof would become Clare’s friend, mentor, and spiritual father. She loved his compassion and drive and the way he seemed to lack judgement, which she felt made him the perfect advocate for addicts. She started booking treatments immediately, modeling her approach after Lotsof’s and mostly learning on the fly. Within six months she moved Pangea into a new space, and paid off the purchase to Polanco in only eighteen months. To date she has given over 400 treatments.
They are not cheap. A full 10-day detox program runs about $7500, not including travel. The marked increase over Polanco’s fee reflects improvements Clare made in the treatment protocols in the wake of Valerie Mojieko’s bad experience, and deaths at Polanco’s clinic and others within the underground, even at Pangea under Clare's supervision, which caused everyone in the ibogaine underground to take a good hard look at their own protocols. As a result, many of them, including Clare, implemented more medical safeguards.
Pangea’s comprehensive treatment is a complete holistic integrative health plan, and the price tag reflects the doctors, nurses, EMTs, massage therapists, and nutritionists she employs, a staff of twelve with monthly expenses of around $30,000. Ultimately, though, the medical staff are subordinate to Clare, who is the lead therapist and “guide” during sessions. Unlike Polanco, who was often absent, Clare is present for every one of her client’s sessions.
Clare is quick to point out that half of the 400 treatments she has given were either subsidized or free, which she says is common in the underground. She also mentions that three of her former clients formed a not-for-profit called “The Healing Experience” that raises money to provide free treatments for those who can’t afford them. Lots of former addicts pay for treatments for others, or assist with sessions, she tells me. It’s part of their healing process.
“The only way this message is received is if its carried on the backs and in the hearts of addicts,” she says with utter conviction. “It only works if addicts help each other.”
Bringing it Home
It pains me to think about what my life might be like today had I only known Clare Wilkins ten years ago. As my book, Exile Nation, chronicles, I spent nearly a dozen years in flagrante delicto with a brutal crack addiction, which I managed to kick the hard way shortly after 9/11. After two decades of abuse and recovery, I prided myself on knowing as much or more about addiction than any specialist, and the one thing I was clear on was that the existing methods of treatment left a lot to be desired. I am deeply cynical about the medical establishment’s position on addiction. I firmly believe, like Carl Jung did, that addiction is a spiritual sickness, and that it is not chronic, but can be cured. One does not have to saddle oneself with the “addict/alcoholic” label for the rest of their lives. It’s a permanent, and unnecessary, handicap.