Substance addiction is a worldwide problem which poses a constant and difficult challenge in many societies. Relapse rates, particularly for highly addictive substances like heroine are often very high even after rehabilitative treatments. High rates of drug abuse and addiction are also often linked to secondary social problems like crime and violence, which highlights the need for effective alleviation. This has sometimes led to the use of some controversial treatments for addiction. One such controversial treatment is ibogaine.
Ibogaine is a psychoactive substance which occurs naturally and which is derived from the Iboga plant. It has been used for many years in West Africa for medicinal and ritual purposes by certain tribes. It is a hallucinogen that has psychedelic as well as dissociative properties.
Some experiments have been done to test the effectiveness of using this substance to treat addiction to drugs like heroine, methamphetamine, cocaine and alcohol. Although some say that it is unlikely to become a substance of abuse, it has been banned in some countries. There is, however, work being done on the development of a derivative that lacks the hallucinogenic effects.
Ibogaine was banned in the United States of America in the 1960s. This has vast implications on the scientific study of its uses, making it increasingly difficult to find accurate and reliable sources of information on the benefits and risks involved in the use of this controversial substance.
A major benefit of using this substance to treat addiction is that the physiological dependence can be overcome without the experience of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Although some studies have shown that the substance can be effectively used to treat addictions, caution should be taken, and both the risks and benefits should be considered.
Although there have been some successful cases of treatment, ibogaine does not work as an effective treatment for addiction in all individuals, and the reasons for this need to be further explored. Further, some individuals have died during the treatment, although it is unclear what the exact causes were. Some possibilities include existing heart conditions or a very low body weight. Some evidence also suggests a strong contraindication with any psychiatric medications.
When administered in very small doses, the treatment should produce only a mind stimulant effect. When dosage increases, however, a number of negative side effects may occur. Some of these include nausea and vomiting, dry mouth, seizures or arrhythmia of the heart. A common side effect is ataxia, which is difficulty in controlling and coordinating motor movements.
As with any addiction treatment plan, a key element is counselling and guidance throughout the process, as well as an aftercare plan. When using ibogaine, many people experience what they describe as a dreamlike state in which they can think introspectively from the standpoint of a sober person and are thus better able to identify and analyze the causes and underlying problems that led them to addictive behaviors. This process can thus be facilitated and enhanced by psychotherapy.
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