What is Ibogaine Treatment?

ibogaine treatment x

Thousands of deaths due to substance overdose occur every year.  This leads to an increased push to find addiction treatments that offer results for those who find themselves addicted. There’s a significant need for effective substance abuse treatments, and one alternative option that’s become increasingly popular is ibogaine treatment. However, if you’re considering this treatment, it’s essential to learn more about it.  Things you should learn is how it works, and how effective it is before deciding if it’s the right option for you.

What is Ibogaine?


Ibogaine, which comes from the West African iboga shrub, is a naturally-occurring psychoactive alkaloid. In small doses, it works as a mild stimulant, but in larger doses, it results in a psychedelic state somewhat LSD. Throughout history, it’s been used in various initiations and healing ceremonies in West Africa.  Within the past few decades, the use of this plant within North America has increased, specifically for the treatment of substance abuse disorders.

What is Ibogaine Treatment Used For?

Although it’s long been used in West Africa, more recently, studies have focused on using this treatment for addiction to opioids, heroin, methamphetamine, and other commonly abused substances. Some studies have shown that ibogaine helps relieve some of the harshest withdrawal symptoms, speeding up recovery as patients go through substance abuse treatment. While ibogaine treatment seems best suited for heroin and opiate addiction, it also may have a profound effect on individuals addicted to Adderall, and alcohol.

How Does Ibogaine Addiction Treatment Work?

While researchers aren’t completely sure of how ibogaine addiction treatment works, anecdotal evidence suggests that it manipulates brain chemistry to reduce depression as well as withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Scientists are unsure if treatment ends addiction or merely interrupts the process and makes way for accompanying treatments to work more effectively.

ibogaine drug infographic
ibogaine drug infographic

When substances are put into the system, massive amounts of chemicals often flood the brain. Once individuals stop using those substances, the brain doesn’t get those chemicals and it results in withdrawal symptoms. Ibogaine is believed to help heal the parts of the brain affected by substance abuse.  Ibogaine treatment helps by resetting the brain, and eliminating most of the withdrawal symptoms. Although it often helps ease withdrawal and cravings, the process works more like a substance detox and steps still must be taken to prevent relapse in the future.

How Successful is Substance Abuse Treatment Using Ibogaine?

Ibogaine plant fields
Ibogaine plant fields

Some studies report between 50-80% success rates when using ibogaine treatment for individuals addicted to substances like methamphetamine. But it’s important to note that long-term recovery and relapse prevention depend significantly on also having a quality rehabilitation program after undergoing ibogaine treatment. When people return to the same environment after being treated with ibogaine, most relapse, so effective aftercare is essential.

Other studies show a 20-50% rate of abstinence after one year for those undergoing substance abuse treatment using ibogaine. While that may sound low, using Suboxone treatment for opioid addiction only shows an 8.6% success rate after the individual stops taking Suboxone. Another review from Brazil showed that combining ibogaine with psychotherapy resulted in higher success rates.

Ibogaine treatment currently is not legal within the United States, although it’s offered by many treatment centers in countries like Mexico. It’s important to note that ibogaine can come with serious side effects, so it should be administered with medical oversight. While some studies show it’s been effective for some individuals, it may not work for everyone. Remember, no cure for addiction exists. Recovering takes time and continual support. If you’re suffering from substance abuse, see professional help to find the treatment options that work best for your unique situation.