To date, most of the relevant research has focused on ibogaine treatment for opiate addiction. A 2018 study in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse is just one example. It was an observational study involving 14 opioid-dependent patients who took ibogaine to overcome their addictions.
The study took place in treatment facilities in New Zealand, where the drug is legally available on prescription. The participants took several doses of ibogaine over 24–96 hours once their withdrawal period had begun. They then underwent assessment once after treatment and again at 3, 6, and 12-month follow-up appointments.
After ibogaine administration, participants reported decreased withdrawal symptoms and improved depression scores.
After the ibogaine administration, the participants reported decreased withdrawal symptoms and improved depression scores. These results were primarily sustained at the 12-month follow-up, with most participants achieving opiate cessation or reductions in use.
There is less research available on ibogaine as a therapy for other substance use disorders. However, one animal study on ibogaine and nicotine addiction had promising results. It found that treatment with a related substance, noribogaine, caused rats to reduce nicotine self-administration by 64%.
However, the New Zealand study highlighted some serious safety concerns regarding ibogaine drug addiction treatment. The authors of the study stated there were at least 19 ibogaine-related deaths between 1990 and 2008. These were primarily due to pre-existing cardiovascular disorders or the use of multiple additional substances.
Therefore, many see ibogaine as a last resort for addiction when all other treatments have failed. Furthermore, individuals should only ever use it under close medical supervision, having undergone thorough physical and psychological assessment first.
Ibogaine as an Addiction Cure: Too Good to Be True?
The idea that ibogaine cures addiction is somewhat controversial due to the apparent safety concerns. However, a 2018 study for Frontiers in Pharmacology suggests that the drug is well-tolerated in appropriate amounts.
The open-label case series included 191 participants who were trying to detox from either opioids or cocaine. They took a single dose of ibogaine after a detailed safety evaluation. The results showed that the treatment significantly reduced cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These outcomes were maintained at the follow-up, one month after dosing.