In recent weeks, the news has revealed more legal and financial repercussions for those who have profited from the sale of pharmaceutical opioids.
The Sacklers, the family behind Purdue Pharma, have been ordered to pay $3 billion over the next three years—out of their personal wealth—to cover thousands of lawsuits that have been brought by local governments over their part in the opioid crisis.
One thousand people are treated in emergency rooms every day for opioid “misuse.” Describing opioid dependence as misuse places most of the responsibility for dependence on the patient.
This responsibility is misplaced. In spite of recommendations to use non-opioid therapies as a first line of treatment for pain, primary-care physicians still write 45% of opioid prescriptions in the U.S.
Deceptive Marketing Played a Big Role in the Crisis
The deceptive marketing practices used by Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family have played a large part in the phenomenon of over-prescribing opioids by creating the impression that these drugs are far safer than they are.
Ironically, the misleading advertising that led to this over-prescribing has boosted sales of opioid drugs, creating much of the wealth that will be used to pay opioid-crisis lawsuits.
Opioids are typically advertised as safe, but this is grossly misleading. In the U.S, we lose one person to opioid overdose every 11 minutes. And it is virtually impossible to predict who will become dependent. Still, doctors prescribe opioids at a shocking rate of over 57 prescriptions per 100 people. Many of these 57 will inevitably become addicted, and some will ultimately lose their lives to their addictions.
While it is encouraging that pharmaceutical companies are finally being held accountable, we are still in an opioid-addiction crisis. Many addicts are now left fighting for their lives. With so much at stake, what help is there for those afflicted?
Conventional Treatments Have a Poor Track Record
The conventional approach to treating opioid addiction usually begins with a stay at rehab followed by Opioid Replacement Therapy (ORT), therapy and attendance at 12-step meetings.
As a society, we have long been under the impression that these therapies are not only the best, but the only hope of recovery for addicts.
Unfortunately conventional interventions rely too heavily on what amounts to will power, calling on recovering addicts to white-knuckle it through agonizing withdrawals followed by months and years of suffering from Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). PAWS is the constellation of symptoms that includes depression and cravings for opioids that plague recovering addicts long after initial detox.
Often the only thing that can restore feelings of normalcy for an addict in the grips of PAWS is his drug of choice. This is why conventional therapies—which do little to soothe addicts with withdrawal symptoms—have such low rates of success.
University of Virginia neuroscience professor and Addiction Medicine editor Bankole Johnson has gone so far as to say that “…the data suggest that [rehabs are] not much better than spontaneous rates of recovery.”
Ibogaine Offers Hope Where Conventional Treatments Fail
Opioid addiction treatments with success rates on a par with spontaneous recovery do not offer struggling addicts nearly enough hope.
Fortunately there is an option to conventional recovery that gives opioid addicts a real shot at getting their lives back in full. This exciting alternative restores what addiction takes away; personal agency, a sense of wellbeing, purpose in life, and meaningful relationships with family and community.
Ibogaine, a psychoactive alkaloid derived from the root bark of the West African iboga shrub, could be the key to the recovery for many suffering from opioid dependence.
Ibogaine treatment offers addicts the prospect of real healing. It amounts to a physiological and spiritual reset that addresses the root causes of addiction instead of just managing symptoms like standard ORTs (such as methadone treatment). Here are just a few of the amazing properties of ibogaine therapy that make it more effective than conventional addiction treatments:
- Ibogaine mitigates withdrawal symptoms. One of the greatest challenges in healing from opioid addiction is suffering through brutal withdrawal symptoms. In case you’re not familiar with just how tough withdrawal can be, one addict described it as feeling like “your skeleton is being smashed.” That same addict experienced an intense feeling of comfort and relief just 45 minutes after taking a dose of ibogaine.
Ibogaine’s ability to help addicts over this first big hurdle is unmatched and gives patients the opportunity to get a strong start in recovery.
- Ibogaine “Interrupts” addictions. It has the unique ability to push the reset button on an addict’s system, essentially returning patients to a pre-addictive physiological state that gives them a sense of distance from their addictions. This sense of distance mimics several months of recovery and therapy, giving patients a solid foothold in recovery and a better chance of staying clean.
- Ibogaine can initiate profound insights. Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, considered the spiritual and self-reflective aspects of addiction recovery to be so integral to success that they are written into the 12 steps of AA. Step four reads: Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Bill had the spiritual awakening that led to his long-term sobriety in 1934 while receiving the belladonna cure. Ibogaine, however, can trigger a similar spiritual awakening. This is especially true during the first ‘acute’ phase and the second ‘reflective’ phase of treatment.
The acute phase tends to be very visual and is often described as a ‘life review’ or a ‘waking dream.’ During the second, more reflective phase, lessons from the acute phase are reviewed and integrated. This life review effectively becomes the searching and fearless moral inventory that can help people become truly honest with themselves about who they are, how they’re showing up in the world, and what drives their addictions.
Ibogaine Remains Beyond the Reach of Many
As a psychoactive alkaloid, ibogaine is illegal in the U.S. and inaccessible to so many who are in desperate need. Its schedule I status means that it is legally classified as a substance that has no therapeutic value and leads to dependence.
This could not be further from the truth. People become addicted to substances that help them to escape and to forget.
Ibogaine, on the other hand gives an experience that forces addicts to confront themselves. A searching and fearless moral inventory may be wonderful for spiritual and emotional growth, but it is not an escapist or recreational activity. The intense self-evaluation and reflection that happens during ibogaine therapy is not an experience that most people would be eager to regularly repeat.
The confrontational aspect of ibogaine treatment makes it challenging to experience—it is definitely not an easy way out. It is, however, a legitimate path to recovery. This healing miracle can help restore a healthy, balanced and joyful life to a once hopeless addict.