The need for ibogaine in drug and alcohol addiction treatment.

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The Journal of Legal Medicine, 32:93–114
Copyright C 2011 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
0194-7648 print / 1521-057X online
DOI: 10.1080/01947648.2011.550832
Jennifer R. Donnelly*
Clearly, in a world devastated by addictions to alcohol, cocaine, heroin, am-
phetamines, methadone, and nicotine, with all the accompanying death, disease
and crime, in a society where dysfunctional behavior is the rule rather than the
exception, in a humanity hungering to reconnect with God, ibogaine has profound
Samantha Jones graduated valedictorian of her high school class. She had big
dreams of becoming a surgeon and had even been offered a full scholarship
at an Ivy League university. Something, however, went terribly wrong. At
20 years old, Samantha has been disowned by her family, fired by her em-
ployer, evicted by her landlord, and has lost her daughter to foster care. She
is living on the streets, selling her body for sex to get enough money to feed
her $200-a-day addiction to heroin. On a good day, Samantha wakes up and
immediately shoots heroin to “get well.” On a bad day, she is forced to go out
on the street and beg for money or sell her body just to come up with enough
money to shoot up.
Samantha has been in and out of rehab facilities and has spent time in
jail for prostitution and possession of a controlled substance. Each time, she
relapses within days of her release. She is currently on methadone maintenance
in an effort to ward off heroin withdrawal symptoms, but instead of taking the
methadone, Samantha is selling it on the streets for money to buy the heroin
* Third-year
law student at Southern Illinois University. Address correspondence to Ms. Donnelly at
Southern Illinois University School of Law, Law Journal Office, Lesar Law Building, Carbondale,
Illinois 62901.
1 Eric Taub, Ibogaine: I Begin Again, in I BEGIN AGAIN TREATMENT CENTERS (2003), http://www. taub.shtml.
she desperately craves. She knows that she has lost all control and realizes
that her addiction may soon take her life, but up against a wall with nowhere
to turn, Samantha needs a miracle.
What Samantha does not know is that there is a drug that could interrupt
her dependency on heroin for long enough that she could get the therapy that
she needs. Unfortunately, this miracle drug, ibogaine, is illegal in the United
States and while it is legally available in other countries, travel and treatment
are expensive. Samantha, like thousands of others in her position, simply
cannot afford the treatment, as every penny she manages to scrounge goes to
feed her addiction.2
Section I of this commentary discusses the economic and societal costs
of drug abuse in the United States, as well as the current treatment methods
available for drug addiction. Section II examines the history of ibogaine,
including the available studies on its use for addiction and the importance
of aftercare. Section III analyzes the common arguments against legalizing
ibogaine. Section IV concludes with suggestions for the future of ibogaine in
the United States.