Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in plants belonging to the apocynaceae family. Although not currently approved for any medical use in the United States there have been studies which have suggested that it may be useful in helping people overcome drug addiction, and in some countries it is approved as an alternative medicine for this purpose. It was first advertised as having anti-addictive properties by the American scientific researcher Howard Lotsof in 1962.
There are now a growing number of treatment centres offering ibogaine treatment in Europe and in other parts of the world, all claiming huge success rates with most Ibogaine patients remaining completely drug free for three to six months after just one treatment, and a substantial number of those becoming permanently clean of heroin, crack cocaine, cocaine, methamphetamine, or alcohol. The treatment remains illegal in the United States, American addicts tend to travel to Mexico for their treatment. Ibogaine therapy does come with risks though, addicts can die whilst in treatment with an estimated mortality rate of somewhere around 1 in 300.
A 2004 documentary by David Graham Scott, a heroin addicted film maker. The film follows his attempts to rid himself of his addiction by undertaking Ibogaine treatment. Prior to the treatment he wasted four years addicted to heroin, then a further twelve years addicted to heroin substitute methadone. The filming took place over a five year period, and prior to see him preparing for treatment he takes us inside the murky world that he once inhabited when using, at one point he actually relapses after visiting some addicted associates for the film. He subsequently undertakes the grueling 36 hour Ibogaine treatment, despite being very afraid of the risks. Watch here.
David Graham Scott returned to the subject of Ibogaine, a decade after a single dose of the drug had rid him of his long standing addiction to heroin substitute methadone, with this award winning feature length documentary. He explores whether the success rate is as high as is claimed and travels to Holland to watch a Dutch Ibogaine practitioner administer doses to several addicts. Tragically one of the patients ends up on a life support machine, and the practitioner is arrested, leading Scott to question whether the treatment is just too dangerous to become mainstream. He later administers a dose of the drug himself to an addict in London. Watch here.
A low budget Dutch documentary from 2004 which discusses the current (at the time) state of Iboga in society, in 1993 the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) stated that Ibogaine showed promising signs as a treatment for drug addiction but no big pharma company or state government had every invested any significant amount of money into researching this further for potential development into a mainstream drug. The problem is perhaps that Iboga, being a completely natural substance, cannot be patented. If it can’t be patented then there is no profit in it for the pharmaceutical industry behemoths. Watch here.
A feature length 2010 documentary by Michel Negroponte filmed over a three year period, he follows former punk rock front man Dimitri Mugianis as he administers Ibogaine to addicts, a practice which is illegal in the United States due to the drugs illegal status. Mugianis was himself addicted to heroin, cocaine, and meth before an Iboga dose cured him of his addiction. He know helps other addicts by performing an Iboga ceremony, he had already performed several hundred treatments at the time of filming. In 2011 he was arrested in Seattle and charged with possession of an illegal substance. Watch here.
Facing The Habit is an award winning documentary which tells the story of a 33 year old American man named Dave who was once a successful millionaire stockbroker who had lost everything after developing an addiction to heroin, the once proud man had resorted to theft to fund his addiction despite still clinging on to a job which paid him $5000 a week, he spent all of his earnings on heroin. In a desperate last attempt to break free from the shackles of his addiction and attempt to rebuild his life he agrees to travel to Mexico to undertake Ibogaine treatment, despite the risks, unfortunately this one is not a success story – he soon relapses. Watch here.
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