Why Thousands Are Turning to a Psychedelic Plant from Africa for Release from Severe Addictions
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At the same time, however, I began to have some ambivalence about taking ibogaine. Since I did not need detox, the technical term for the type of treatment I was going to take is called “Psycho-Spiritual.” But let’s be frank, I also knew that there was fifteen odd years of hairy addiction shit to cull through as well, and since I had heard iboga was a harsh taskmaster and didn’t pull any punches, I was growing afraid of what I was going to have to face.
After nearly four months of trying to coordinate our schedules, Clare and I finally settle on the second week in February for me to travel to Tijuana (of course, those who have taken iboga will tell you that the medicine makes itself available to you when the time is right, and not one minute before). I was in Los Angeles preparing for the trip when we all got word that Howard Lotsof had died. Clare was distraught and headed off to his funeral in New York and didn’t know if she’d be back in time for my visit.
I spent the week prior to the treatment on a strict diet of mostly fruits, greens, and nuts. I had no alcohol, very little caffeine, and drank gallons of detox tea. I crossed the border on the morning of February 8th with my close friend Kristin, a psychotherapist specializing in addiction and PTSD who works part-time at Pangea. There was no traffic going into Mexico, and nearly a two-hour line cued up on the other side waiting to get out. The night before at her place in San Diego, Kristin showed me Ibogaine: Rite of Passage, an eight-year-old film set in a Bwiti medicine ritual in Gabon, and at Polanco’s clinic in Tijuana, that featured Howard Lotsof and Randy Hencken. Kristin takes great care to point out that Clare’s protocols are nothing like what I was seeing in the film.
“You’re probably not going to take the medicine right away,” Kristin tells me, “you’re just going to get your intake work done, and prepare your system. You also need to acclimate to the setting. When the moment is right, Clare will appear out of no where and tell you its time. It could be days.”
I went through a comprehensive intake that included a clinical history, complete blood and urine panels, cardiac enzymes, the whole enchilada. I found out I was healthy as a pack mule, albeit slightly anemic. Later that night I was given the most sublimely painful two-hour deep tissue detox massage by a Thai man named Neil who had worked with ibogaine for psycho-spiritual purposes and told me it helped him heal wounds stemming from his childhood in Thailand when he was abandoned by his family, and as a result, could not experience intimacy with anyone, including his wife and children.
“The med-cine keep working with you for many year,” he said in broken English. “It working when you not know it working, and den one day you say, ‘Ah, now it make sense!’”
There were two other clients at the clinic, a 26-year-old Orange County princess strung out on Oxys, and a poly-addicted guy in his early thirties from Detroit who was as magnificent a shit-talking addict as I have ever met. When you’ve been an addict and spent your life around them, at home, in school, at work, in bed, you very quickly come to see who’s serious about cleaning up and who’s not. I had strong doubts about both, particularly the kid from Detroit, about whom I would prove correct. Both of them screamed I’m enabled, what’s your name?!