Hallucinogen Shows Promise as Addiction-Breaker 

Hallucinogen Shows Promise as Addiction-Breaker 
Posted by FoM on November 09, 1999 at 13:25:37 PT
By Adam Pasick, Fox News
Source: Fox News
A powerful hallucinogen may hold the key to defeating drug addiction. A drug called ibogaine can wipe the brain free of addiction by erasing the ingrained biochemical memories that make the body crave a cigarette, a line of cocaine or a syringe of heroin, according to research presented Friday at New York University. 
Researchers who crowded into a college auditorium were told that in study after study, ibogaine alleviates withdrawal symptoms in drug-addicted rats, and the rats did not desire drugs even when ibogaine is gone from their bodies. The problem: Ibogaine is currently illegal in the United States and many other countries, and there are no human trials currently under way. Laboratory studies have found evidence the drug can be toxic to the brain and stressful to the heart. Separately, some have also questioned the wisdom of treating addiction with a hallucinogenic drug. "You would ideally like to give a drug that does nothing other than ... have people stop taking drugs," said Dr. Stanley Glick of Albany Medical School, who has conducted many of the first laboratory studies of ibogaine. "You would not want a drug that makes people see things that aren't there or produces distortions in consciousness." Those criticisms don't blunt the enthusiasm of ibogaine boosters, who argue a drug with the ability to rescue addicts from the prison of addiction is worthy of further research. "At the age of 19, in 1962, I was a heroin addict; 33 hours later, I was not a heroin addict," said Howard Lotsof, who has been fighting to bring ibogaine to the market ever since. There was "no withdrawal or desire to continue drug use" after he used ibogaine, he said. Unlike heroin addicts on methadone therapy, those who take ibogaine are not substituting one addiction for another, supporters say. Ibogaine appears to perform a one-shot resetting of the neural circuitry of addiction, although it is not known how long the drug's anti-addictive qualities last. Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson wrote that presidential candidate Edward Muskie was an ibogaine addict in the book, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72, an accusation Thompson later said he expected no one to take seriously How Does It Work? Ibogaine blocks a site of the brain called the NMDA receptor, which plays a key function in creating memories. This is important because experts believe drug addiction is coded into the brain, forming biochemical memories at the most basic level. Research presented at the NYU conference suggested ibogaine can disrupt the "addictive learning process," according to Dr. Barbara Herman of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health. When cocaine addicts are shown a video with scenes of drug paraphernalia, she said, a specific part of their brain becomes active, triggering cravings for the drug even after physical withdrawal has ended. This mental addiction is responsible, experts say, for the large percentage of addicts who relapse into drug use days, weeks, months and even years after detox. Although Friday's conference was focused on the biology of how ibogaine works, the grassroots activists who have been using it for years describe its addiction-cleansing process in much more spiritual terms. The Bwiti tribe of Gabon, in equatorial Africa, uses ibogaine to produce religious visions, and Western proponents of ibogaine say the drug induces a waking dream state filled with buried memories, which provides addicts with an emotional release of the pain of addiction. Not at Rite-Aid Yet Still, ibogaine is a long way from the corner drug store. NIDA has been hesitant to fund such trials after the deaths of two ibogaine patients in the Netherlands and in Switzerland. The patient in Switzerland was shown to have a history of heart problems; the Netherlands patient may have ingested heroin during her ibogaine detox and suffered from a toxic combination of the two drugs. NIDA is also wary of laboratory studies that show the drug can stress the heart, and at certain levels may be toxic to the brain. Much of the research has focused on ibogaine derivatives like 18-MC (methoxycoronaridine), a synthetic cousin of ibogaine that may share its anti-addictive properties without producing the same powerful hallucinations. There is also the issue of ibogaine's history — specifically, its route from the Bwiti to 1960s activists like Lotsof is untraditional, to say the least, in the world of high-stakes pharmaceuticals. "Because of the toxicity and the politics, how the drug arose makes it very unlikely" ibogaine will ever reach the market, said Glick, who holds the patent on 18-MC with several other researchers and universities. "My peers do not see this as a developable drug, so they're very resistant to giving grants to study it."  Some Pain Relievers Linked to Stomach Irritation Not all non-prescription pain relievers are made the same. In fact, the medicine in some over-the-counter pain relievers may contribute to stomach irritation — and you may not even feel it. Next Time You're at the Drugstore, Read the Fine Print Sometimes, taking a combination of prescription and non-prescription drugs can cause unwanted side effects. But you can reduce the risk. Published: November 9, 1999comments© 1999, News America Digital Publishing, Inc. Related Links:
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Comment #2 posted by highguy on May 07, 2001 at 22:27:19 PT
Curing addiction through hallucinogenic experience
I don't think the psychological dangers of using a hallucinogen is anything to be feared (at least not to the extent that the researchers described above do) especially when it is used for such a positive purpose. Any length of time spent addicted is far more of a psychological risk than 'tripping out' for mere hours!I have a friend who quit his addictive behaviour after taking 4 hits of LSD. (His 'visions' were something he needed to see.) His trip was a frightening, traumatic experience, BUT has changed his life for the better.(Back to the particular):THE POSSIBLE BENEFITS of using ibogaine heavily outweigh the possible risks.Finally, This is a phenomonal discovery. Imagine tossing aside rigid, undersired brain reactions like nicotine craving in one simple dose. This is TOO BIG OF A DISCOVERY TO NOT BE PERSUE
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Comment #1 posted by Rainbow on November 09, 1999 at 13:42:08 PT:
What synthetic drug has a better record? 
BUT hey Viagra is okay even though it kills. But anything to help people out of addiction is not so good??? 
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