Some claim hallucinogenic drug can cure opioid addiction

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Opioid misuse devastates many families: those who struggle with addiction and their loved ones who feel powerless to help them.Some Americans are heading to Mexico for a treatment some Marylanders are calling “miraculous.”Josh, who wished not to share his last name or show his face, has a good job and a young family, but that wasn’t the case several years ago.”I was, basically, for lack of words, homeless. I was in a homeless shelter,” Josh said.He was struggling with addiction and on the verge of suicide when he heard about a treatment called ibogaine. “I definitely didn’t want to live the way I was living anymore, and either this was going to work or that was it — I was done,” he said.Josh traveled to a clinic in Mexico where is legal. It’s a schedule 1 drug — a hallucinogenic. It’s derived from a plant called iboga, which is found in the African rain forest. A trip from ibogaine lasts anywhere from four to 10 hours. It puts users in a dreamlike state, where they process repressed memories and trauma. Some describe it as resetting their brain.Josh said after his dose, he didn’t feel like he needed any drugs anymore.”Almost as soon as I got back, I knew my life from before was completely done,” Josh said.Couple George Beck and Diane Baklor accompanied Josh on that life-changing visit. Beck was able to help guide Josh through the experience, because he has been through it himself. He had also struggled with addiction until an ibogaine treatment.”Literally, went to a facility, woke up eight hours later after taking ibogaine, perfectly cured. There was no craving. I really didn’t think about taking a pill,” Beck said. “The addiction was literally gone.””Had I not seen it with my own two eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Baklor said.Beck and Baklor feel so strongly about the benefits of ibogaine, they moved to Mexico and opened their own treatment center: The Power of I Institute, or POI. It’s a holistic, all-inclusive retreat in Cabo San Lucas. Their hope is to one day provide this kind of treatment in Maryland.Beck and Baklor were encouraged when the Maryland Legislature passed the ibogaine treatment study program to look into the effectiveness and safety of ibogaine for opioid dependence. WBAL-TV 11 News reached out for an update on the study and received a response, saying, “This study concluded that, although ibogaine has been investigated internationally in uncontrolled, observational trials with some positive results, it has also been associated with serious adverse side effects, including death. There is not enough research on ibogaine to conclude that it is a safe treatment option for opioid use disorder.”Researchers at Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic Research echo that opinion. “Our field has a little bit of a concern about it, because of the potential for medical consequences,” said Kelly Dunn, PhD.Dunn said there have been a handful of cardiac deaths and also prolonged psychosis tied to ibogaine. “There is not a lot of data regarding what the exact right dose would be, and we know that there’s a very fine line between a dose that might have effectiveness for the treatment of opioid abuse disorder or addiction in general, and a dose that would cause significant health consequences, like cardiac impairment,” Dunn said.Beck and Baklor said they take extra safety precautions at the POI Institute and have not had any patients suffer adverse effects. “It’s a medically-focused facility, so people have to be screened ahead of time. We do all their lab work when they get there … reviewed by a doctor,” Baklor said. “The actual procedure of the treatment is RN supervised completely and they’re monitored the entire time, hooked up to an ECG machine, IV’s for fluid.”Baklor believes pictures of a client when she first arrived and about a week after treatment speaks for themselves. “It’s not only saving people’s lives with addiction — We’ve treated navy seals with PTSD, we’ve treated people for depression and anxiety. It’s just miraculous,” Baklor said.​

Opioid misuse devastates many families: those who struggle with addiction and their loved ones who feel powerless to help them.

Some Americans are heading to Mexico for a treatment some Marylanders are calling “miraculous.”

Josh, who wished not to share his last name or show his face, has a good job and a young family, but that wasn’t the case several years ago.

“I was, basically, for lack of words, homeless. I was in a homeless shelter,” Josh said.

He was struggling with addiction and on the verge of suicide when he heard about a treatment called ibogaine.

“I definitely didn’t want to live the way I was living anymore, and either this was going to work or that was it — I was done,” he said.

Josh traveled to a clinic in Mexico where is legal. It’s a schedule 1 drug — a hallucinogenic. It’s derived from a plant called iboga, which is found in the African rain forest.

A trip from ibogaine lasts anywhere from four to 10 hours. It puts users in a dreamlike state, where they process repressed memories and trauma. Some describe it as resetting their brain.

Josh said after his dose, he didn’t feel like he needed any drugs anymore.

“Almost as soon as I got back, I knew my life from before was completely done,” Josh said.

Couple George Beck and Diane Baklor accompanied Josh on that life-changing visit. Beck was able to help guide Josh through the experience, because he has been through it himself. He had also struggled with addiction until an ibogaine treatment.

“Literally, went to a facility, woke up eight hours later after taking ibogaine, perfectly cured. There was no craving. I really didn’t think about taking a pill,” Beck said. “The addiction was literally gone.”

“Had I not seen it with my own two eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Baklor said.

Beck and Baklor feel so strongly about the benefits of ibogaine, they moved to Mexico and opened their own treatment center: The Power of I Institute, or POI. It’s a holistic, all-inclusive retreat in Cabo San Lucas. Their hope is to one day provide this kind of treatment in Maryland.

Beck and Baklor were encouraged when the Maryland Legislature passed the ibogaine treatment study program to look into the effectiveness and safety of ibogaine for opioid dependence.

WBAL-TV 11 News reached out for an update on the study and received a response, saying, “This study concluded that, although ibogaine has been investigated internationally in uncontrolled, observational trials with some positive results, it has also been associated with serious adverse side effects, including death. There is not enough research on ibogaine to conclude that it is a safe treatment option for opioid use disorder.”

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic Research echo that opinion.

“Our field has a little bit of a concern about it, because of the potential for medical consequences,” said Kelly Dunn, PhD.

Dunn said there have been a handful of cardiac deaths and also prolonged psychosis tied to ibogaine.

“There is not a lot of data regarding what the exact right dose would be, and we know that there’s a very fine line between a dose that might have effectiveness for the treatment of opioid abuse disorder or addiction in general, and a dose that would cause significant health consequences, like cardiac impairment,” Dunn said.

Beck and Baklor said they take extra safety precautions at the POI Institute and have not had any patients suffer adverse effects.

“It’s a medically-focused facility, so people have to be screened ahead of time. We do all their lab work when they get there … reviewed by a doctor,” Baklor said. “The actual procedure of the treatment is RN supervised completely and they’re monitored the entire time, hooked up to an ECG machine, IV’s for fluid.”

Baklor believes pictures of a client when she first arrived and about a week after treatment speaks for themselves.

“It’s not only saving people’s lives with addiction — We’ve treated navy seals with PTSD, we’ve treated people for depression and anxiety. It’s just miraculous,” Baklor said.

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