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9.Thank You From A Grateful Mother: iBogaine and My Son's Drug Addiction

James continues to be amazing he is open, free of any withdrawal and addiction, content and making plans for how the coming months and next year will look like. 


I am going to write some detail of my experience for any parents or people with heroin or opiate addiction seeking a treatment and a treatment provider.  I would recommend ibogaine and I would recommend Sasha from iBogaine Thailand.  James is now nearly a month out from treatment. I cannot find the words to express how I feel that I can say Thank you to Sasha for making this possible, for helping my son have a chance to live again, for helping me to get my son back. But truly these words are not enough.  I pinch myself every day it is like a miracle after years of trauma and watching my son addicted and living a death. 


Searching for Ibogaine treatment:

We had been looking into Ibogaine for several months before contacting Sasha. This included treatment in Australia and others around the world. Some of the leads were  dead ends, some too hard baskets and others just did not feel right.  James said to me after the treatment that he is glad that it worked out Sasha did his Ibogaine treatment. James described the treatment as a marathon, but he had confidence that Sasha stayed in contact with him even when he was very deep in. 


James had moved to Cambodia, because he could obtain opiates over the counter, that could maintain him in an ok state and legally keep his withdrawal at bay, with a low risk alternative to Heroin,  while he tried to organise Ibogaine. 


Hitting brick walls and eventually feeling the energy drain from his resolve, James reached a particularly low point. He was depressed and feeling hopeless. He felt he would never escape his addiction and started using heroin and some other street drugs, . By this stage he was incapable of organising anything  beyond obtaining his daily opiates, so he did not go into withdrawal. He asked me to take over and organise getting the ibogaine treatment done. I did a web search and there had been a couple of newer treatment providers open up in Thailand and Bali so we made contact first by email and then phone and Skype.


From the first Skype contact with Sasha I decided I would trust him to do this treatment on my son and more importantly James also trusted Sasha.  From the time of our first email until completed treatment took 4 weeks.  We first had to get blood tests and ECG. Sasha maintained contact with me and James during the whole way process. Once he decided that we where legitimately seeking his help, he gave James lists of supplements to take and foods to eat and avoid. To me he was careful, sensible, knowledgeable in administering the Ibogaine, which is what I wanted sending my son to Thailand, unaccompanied. 


Sasha sent me an email after the treatment was completed, to let me know James was safe and kept in contact with James and I after the treatment, as James stayed on longer to regain some of his strength. 


The email after the treatment to let me know that James was free of withdrawal was magic. The first messages James sent me and then over the following days. My son telling me this is the first time in 6 years he had not been either in withdrawal from opiates or using. I feel reborn, totally mentally and physically different. I was so happy, but it did not prepare me for seeing my son again, seeing his smiling face, his calm his ease, his openness. 


It has been a long hard 6 years from the time my son developed a heroin addiction. It has been frightening, heartbreaking and painful. I had to find every reserve in myself to help my son and took me to places I never imagined.  I am so grateful we found Ibogaine 8 months ago and I am so glad I emailed Sasha.


If you are a parent of someone with a heroin addiction or if you have an opiate addiction- consider Ibogaine. 


My experience with my son’s addiction. 


Do not let your past define you, it is a lesson, not a life sentence. This is really good advice.

The kicker about opiate addiction is it is controlling parts of your brain below your conscious, where the decisions are made. Parts of your brain you do not have access to in daily life, let alone when you are trying to overcome addiction.  One of the really big things about Ibogaine is that is allows you to access parts of your brain you would not generally be able to. 


I remember the day i first heard of my son’s heroin addiction from his oldest brother. James is an artist and  I think started using heroin as it was “cool”. Obviously with these addictions there is painful childhood things that foreshadow use. He used Heroin on and off and James later told me later he thought he was invincible, that he was immune to addiction and could choose to pick it up and leave it he was in control. 


He developed his addiction when he went to New York as heroin was super cheap, so he used more often I guess than he had in the past. On his flight home he started to feel really unwell. He went to a Doctor who diagnosed it as heroin addiction. He asked the Doctor “how do I stop it”?... The Doctor laughed and said you probably will not.  That is the kicker few people escape heroin addiction. 


James determined, started to try and find ways to stop this addiction. He went onto Suboxone for the first time and then went through withdrawal, he used heroin again, he went into withdrawal, he used other opiates, smoked opium, used heroin, went onto Suboxone, went through withdrawal, used heroin, went through withdrawal, used oral opiates went through withdrawal, used heroin, went through withdrawal, went on Suboxone… he battled daily for six years.


I am a Doctor, although I had limited drug and alcohol experience I did know somethings. and even as a Doctor I thought ok, so we will get James through the withdrawal, and he will be fine, he is a strong person. To go through withdrawal takes enormous courage. I have seen my son through one full blown withdrawal. It is painful, degrading and awful for days. The kicker is the withdrawal is not the end, as James had the courage to face up to this many times, several days of feeling awful, most of us can muster… like a bad flu, we can store the courage for this.  


It was the horrible emptiness of the post acute withdrawal syndrome.  I would see day after day post withdrawal - where he would look dead, he was stunned and numb and could not derive joy in anything. (After opiate withdrawal the opiate receptors are narrowed, so natural endorphins, the things we rely on to help us feel happy CANNOT attach in quantities to feel anything)  The only relieve then becomes putting in some artificial opiates to try and feel even alive. 


Heroin addiction is not a lesson it was a life sentence, until we found Ibogaine. 


Find courage and love- because if you have someone with an addiction the only way they will have to cope with their shame is lies.


I became more isolated as a result of my son’s addiction. From very early on I was warned not to talk about it. I am single and have no partner so am used to dealing with big things by myself. But usually i would share more. I found really early that people are incredibly judgmental of people with addictions. Like they are morally bereft my son was not a ‘junkie’ what is a junkie anyway. 


Addiction and the need to fulfil it takes people to dark places. I understood from being a Doctor and realising that the person; a heroin addict becomes, is not who they are, but because of the addiction. Some things happen in our lives that fundamentally change who we are. Heroin addiction is one of those things. 


From very early on I sorted out my priorities. I supported James for the last couple of years, I have given him money that I knew would be used on opiates or heroin.  I helped to smuggle an opiate substitute through customs in Germany so I could get my son off the streets of Berlin back into Suboxone treatment. I have knocked on his door trying to wake him from drug induced sleep… panicked and worried if he did not return my calls or messages… worried about overdose. I am fortunate as I do have enough money to be able to support him, and at one stage figured I would have to try and work out something for when I died. I had gone through every stage of grieving, accepted that he was an addict and that I would live with that and live for the rare day when my son did connect with me. 


My Son Is More Important Than Money.

This decision was really easy for me. Money is not as important to me as my son. I have worked hard and have some security. Sometimes I  have been badly bitten by this addiction, times I trusted him with money anyone who has someone in their life with an addiction will know this painful horrible truth… I have spent a lot of money helping my son, I have flown across the world 4 times to deal with crisis and gone to some really strange places. But I asked my self really early on, what can I live with. I could not live with not giving every fiber of my body and existence to trying to get my son through this. I could live with being poorer, I could live with poverty. I could not live with not trying. It is hard battle, it is a horrible addiction.


Ibogaine a one hit wonder.I remember the night James first told me about Ibogaine. He had been 3 months post withdrawal struggling every day and had just relapsed and started to use heroin again. I said James we really need to look at rehab, he said from what I have read it does not work, i have been told about Ibogaine, it is a psychoactive that is supposed to help stop heroin addiction.  


I went home and read about it, searching on the internet and sent him a message that night and said James this looks promising. 


I read up everything I could on Ibogaine. The first story that came to me was about a man from Perth dying in an Ibogaine treatment in Thailand. I then looked into the story of the introduction of Ibogaine into the West and the story around a one trip cure, I then researched international ibogaine research and providers, clincical trials, a two year study followup post ibogaine anything i could find.


What I assessed was Ibogaine was an effective short and long term facilitator in moving past opiate addiction i.e. withdrawal and post acute withdrawal. It may not be one dose, but one dose may last 3 months and top up doses in the first year or two would give my son the best opportunity of being able to live.  I did not expect to have my bright lovely son back with me immediately.


What I assessed is that there where risks with Ibogaine, and that it was important to assess the heart,  the QT interval, which is measured by performing an ECG. That if someone had a long QT interval in their ECG then they could not have Ibogaine. James had a normal healthy QT interval. 


There are certain foods, drinks and medicine that prolong the QT interval and you need to exclude these from your diet if you want to have an ibogaine treatment. 


The liver needs to be functioning well, the ibogaine is stored and broken down through the liver. If you have fatty, cirrhotic or unhealthy liver it is not an option, and it is best to follow a diet and low alcohol consumption before so you are in best physical state to handle it.


I went through the risks/benefits. 


I realised that James was still relatively healthy, his heart and liver still functioned, even with this I realised there was a remote risk.. One of those very very rare risks that happen in medicine that it could be fatal. And I looked at James’s life for 6 years, and his life of death, his life when on medically accepted substitutes.. i.e. suboxone.. My son was the least recognisable to me.. sure i could make him stay alive on these drugs.. but he was not alive. He was living dead.. And as for staying with an addiction.. he has had 6 very close friends die over the last 2 years from heroin overdose, one a very close family friend,


For me it became really clear…. James has told me he wants to do this… the risk of death from maintaining his addiction is really high , the chance that he will be able to move past this, even though he is what I believe innately a strong person is very remote, the risk of him living out his life tossed between medically accepted substitutes which leave him living dead and trying to regain some life and using opiates.. tying him into shame and a continual cycle of having to feed an addiction… the chance of his life being fucked is probably greater than 99%. 


With Ibogaine the chance of his life being fucked (as he is still relatively healthy) is vastly less than 1%.


For now there is an alliance across the world that have developed treatment protocols and training. I am eternally grateful to Sasha. As a doctor who paid for my son to go to Thailand and get this treatment, I would say, think about it long and hard,  get the medical tests done, make your own decisions, find out about the treatment. But for my son, for me we would recommend Sasha if you do decide to go ahead with an iboga treatment. 

By Jo From Australia, June 2016

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