Group pushes for the use of ibogaine as meth addiction treatment

By chillinwill · Sep 6, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    A pro-cannabis group is pushing for the introduction of a hallucinogenic-type drug as a treatment for P addiction.

    American drug law reform campaigner Dana Beal will today address a public forum at the University of Otago on the use of ibogaine, a drug which sends people into a dream-like trance for several hours.

    Supporters say it reduces craving and leads drug users to confront their drug-taking behaviour after one or two doses, with the help of psychotherapy. Ibogaine has previously been used with heroin addicts and is now being promoted as a weapon against pure methamphetamine.

    However the drug is banned in some countries, including the United States and Europe, because of its hallucinogenic properties.

    Dr Fraser Todd, a senior lecturer at the National Addiction Centre at Christchurch Medical School, said the main problem with ibogaine was a lack of clinical trials to prove its safety and effectiveness.

    It worked in a similar way to ketamine, a drug which had been tested overseas and could be trialled soon in New Zealand.

    "If that drug [ibogaine] doesn't have long-lasting side effects from a one-off use and does fix addiction, that's potentially a major addition to our armoury."

    But drug education campaigner Mike Sabin said the drug could be especially dangerous for the many methamphetamine users who took other medication for mental illnesses.

    "There's a lot of things to be ticked off before you could say this could be safely administered."

    Mr Beal, 62, a longtime marijuana legalisation supporter, has been brought to New Zealand by the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws New Zealand.

    President Phil Saxby said ibogaine had some side effects on users but so did medicinal marijuana and aspirin.

    "If you banned everything because it had side effects you'd never do anything."

    Auckland psychotherapist Dr Tony Coates, who would like to use the drug as an addiction treatment, said he had tried it himself and found it was "everything it was cracked up to be" in personal accounts on the internet.

    He said most ibogaine users remained fully awake but went into a dreamlike trance for five or six hours.

    Addicts confronted vivid memories of the experiences which led to their drug taking and could discuss these afterwards with a counsellor. Ibogaine also removed craving for other drugs.

    Dr Coates said ibogaine appeared to have no legal status in New Zealand but Medsafe had told him it would have to be registered as a medicine before he could give it to patients. There had been no large-scale clinical trials of the drug and he had found it difficult to interest anyone in starting one.

    By Andrew Laxon
    September 5, 2009
    New Zealand Herald

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  1. chillinwill
    For Tanea Paterson, the drug Ibogaine changed her from a drug addict to someone able to live her life.

    Now she wants others to be able to get the drug.

    Ibogaine, used for centuries by West Africans for rite-of-passage ceremonies and for its healing properties, is not illegal in New Zealand but is only administered by underground healers.

    Ms Paterson, and many others worldwide, want the drug used to help people recover from addiction.

    Due to its hallucinogenic properties, it is prohibited in the United States and a handful of other countries, but Canada and Mexico allow Ibogaine treatment clinics to operate.

    Ms Paterson has organised a forum, to be held today at the University of Otago, where speakers from throughout the world will gather to discuss how the drug can become "mainstream".

    Participants include international heavyweights such as the founder of Cures Not Wars, in New York, Dana Beal, and the director of the Minds Alive International Treatment Centre in Durban, South Africa, Dr Anwa Jeewa.

    Dr Gavin Cape, the director of the Community Alcohol and Drug Service, in Dunedin will also attend.

    Ms Paterson has battled with drugs for more than a decade. When she was 17, she was involved in a serious car crash which left her dealing with chronic pain.

    She was at the time a hairdressing apprentice and began to self-medicate by injecting morphine to deal with the pain.

    It quickly became a habit - she contracted Hepatitis C from the needles she was using and watched as her life slowly unravelled.

    She tried, and failed, to come off the drug naturally so, at 23, ended up on the methadone programme.

    Methadone helped her escape from the drug scene but it also came with social stigma and restrictions.

    "Life on methadone is not living - it is just existing. It was really hard to see a future, I couldn't get excited about anything. You lose your purpose."

    After seven years she tried to withdraw from methadone, but failed.

    Then, three and a-half years ago, a friend told her about Ibogaine.

    "I had pretty much hit crisis point. I was severely depressed and I couldn't see a way out."

    At first she did not believe what it was claimed the drug could do, so she spent months researching Ibogaine before deciding to undergo treatment in Australia.

    She spent 10 days in Australia, where she was constantly monitored and given nutritious food and the drug.

    The treatment was exhausting and not a "magic bullet", but when she returned to New Zealand, 80% of her withdrawal symptoms had gone.

    She no longer needed methadone and could start to live a normal life.

    A counsellor said Ms Paterson went from experiencing severe fatigue, depression, anxiety and self-hate to recovering her physical energy and getting over fatigue, which allowed her body to heal.

    Since then, she had enrolled in a polytechnic health course and helped others by taking them through the course in their homes.

    She dreamed of setting up a treatment centre in New Zealand.

    "I think there [are] a lot more people out there who deserve help," she said.

    The Ibogaine Community Forum is on at the University of Otago Burns 2 lecture theatre from 10am-6pm today. It is open to the public.

    September 5, 2009
    Otago Daily Times
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