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Following the death of  billionaire Matthew Melon, people are questioning the risks and effects using ayahuasca to battle opioid addiction. Addiction is very challenging to overcome which is why some are turning to unverified sources of healing such as ayahuasca. Find out why it is controversial and the ultimate risks of trying the psychedelic drug for addiction to opioids.

Coping with Chronic Pain

Iboga is a plant native to Central Africa. It is used in traditional ceremonies by some of the country’s residents to induce visions. This plant is being used as a supplemental addiction treatment option in the face of a growing opioid crisis. Many people suffer from chronic pain or become addicted by other means and find it hard to quit opiates. Ibogaine, the active chemical compound isolated from the dried root bark of iboga, causes hallucinations that can last as long as 36 hours when ingested.

Promises of Ibogaine

Ibogaine is seen as profoundly effective at interrupting the intense withdrawal symptoms experienced by people, like Matthew Melon, and many others, who become dependent on opiates. It is reported that dream-like states and flashbacks to childhood memories can help a person cope with past trauma. In spite of its perceived benefits, it is also very toxic. There is a risk of death and, for some, that risk is too high to chance, even if it means overcoming opioid addiction. Some of the risks include:

  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Cardiac arrest

Although ibogaine is believed to reduce cravings for opiates, scientists don’t actually understand how it works on the brain and cannot vouch for its overall efficacy (or safety).

Risk Versus Gain

Chanting, smudging, and ceremonial ritual are part of ayahuasca use. It is not recommended for use alone as it is very scary and opens up your worst fears. Ayahuasca temporarily alters brain function. The brain’s frontal cortex does most of the work, which brings ‘awareness.’ The psychedelics disrupt the hierarchy, which allows for other aspects of consciousness to work to the surface. This can help people confront old wounds. There are others who are against it as it is really a game of Russian roulette. Many people may use ibogaine as a treatment for addictions like a ‘magic bullet,’ but that does not exist. There is little research done to know whether it is worth the risks to try it when there may be other alternatives. Methadone and suboxone are typically used to help a person through opioid withdrawal, and some will not go to addiction rehab just to avoid withdrawal. Sometimes the only way out is through with addiction. It depends on whether the person is able to accept the short term challenge of withdrawal in order to get to the other side of healing in recovery.

Opioid addiction is one of the hardest to quit. Sound Recovery has programs and resources designed to help you navigate recovery and heal. We are here to guide you through the steps to recovery. If you are struggling with addiction, let us help. Call us at 561-277-3088 to get started.

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