As researchers and public health officials scramble to come up with a viable solution to the heroin epidemic, some have taken a novel approach to treating addiction- and at first glance, this approach seems crazy. But is it?

Psychedelics for Addiction Therapy

The idea of using psychedelic drugs in treating various ailments is not a new one. As early as the 1950s, the federal government was conducting large numbers of studies (and finding positive results) in order to determine possible therapeutic value of LSD on a range of conditions, including alcoholism, OCD, depression, autism, schizophrenia, cancer, criminal behavior, creativity, and spirituality. However, once the drug hit the 1970s counterculture, it quickly became a controlled (illegal) substance and all research with psychedelic drugs became obsolete. However, recently there has been a resurgence of this research. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), for one, has done research on everything from LSD (for alcoholism, anxiety, and depression) to MDMA (for PTSD, social/other anxiety, and autism) to Ayahuasca (for PTSD) to now, Ibogaine, for treatment of addiction of all things.

How Could This Work?

It has been found that larger doses of Ibogaine can not only reduce opiate withdrawal in substance abusers, but can also temporarily stem cravings. Proponents say the drug can temporarily disrupt the patterns and power of addiction, which buys the addict time to (importantly) address the underlying causes of addiction with therapy and other treatment modalities. It is currently a Schedule I drug in the United States, meaning it has a high abuse potential and no therapeutic value, but emerging research may be proving otherwise.

Still Cause for Concern

Ibogaine is still illegal, and most treatments are conducted in illicit and unlicensed clinics, where treatment may or may not be medically sound. Ibogaine’s illegal status and medical risks (which include lowered heart rate, incompatibility with other substances, liver problems, and other conditions) still pose a risk. Additionally, from a recovery standpoint, using one addictive substance to treat addiction of another is both counterproductive and also doesn’t promote true sobriety. At the very least, until further research is done (and the drug is approved by the FDA specifically for addiction treatment), it is best to continue to rely on other methods of sobriety (namely, working a program of recovery and attending more traditional individual and group therapies).

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, call the professionals at 1-800-203-2024 today for your free confidential assessment.