Howard Lotsof, Norma Lotsof, Jørgen Kjær and Dimitri “Mobengo” Mugianis – at BF @ IDUD 2008.
Ibogaine Trip Report – written by J.F. for BrugerForeningen – Oct. 27. 2008
I have used opiates recreationally and habitually since 2003. I first became addicted to Hydrocodone and OxyContin (Oxycodone) in the summer of 2004 and entered rehab for the first time in the winter of 2004. While I indulged recreationally between early 2005 and summer 2006, I never became addicted again. In summer 2006 after suffering a leg injury I was prescribed Hydrocodone at a hospital which eventually spiraled into full blown addiction to the pills and then later on that year to Oxycodone almost exclusively. I was taking approximately 360mg of Oxycodone daily when I sought help in an outpatient clinic in Tarzana, California in late January 2007 where I was placed on 16mg Suboxone daily in an attempt to detox me to sobriety off Oxycodone. I slipped through the cracks at the clinic and unfortunately ended up on Suboxone for about 40 days when the treatment protocol was a 21-day stepped down detox with Suboxone. Upon realizing their mistake they began to rapidly lower my dose and I ended up suffering severe withdrawals instead of the light transition I was told I would experience. I was also starting a new job that day and my parents knew nothing of anything I had gotten myself into over the past half-year, and out of desperation I went to a former psychiatrist and obtained a prescription for Suboxone. I was stabilized on 16mg for about a year and a half, having gone off to University in that period as well as applied to Study Abroad in Denmark where I was lucky enough to get in touch with Jørgen and the BrugerForeningen. My dose of Suboxone increased to 24mg daily and I left for Copenhagen. The side effects of opiates and specifically Suboxone, as well as the impact it had on my life along with my addiction left me in a space in which I was open to the possibility of quitting permanently but the time scale on which it would have taken to withdraw from Suboxone at the dosages I was at I was being told by doctors was in the Year-long range. The prospects were not looking bright. However, shortly after arriving in Copenhagen, literally within days, Jørgen had mentioned Ibogaine to me in one of our conversations and I became fascinated instantly and spent the next few days researching it. Convinced it was my only chance to be free from Suboxone I went about securing the necessary prerequisites. Based on my research and conversations with different Ibogaine treatment providers it became clear I would need to switch to a short-acting opiate such as morphine or oxycodone in order to give my body time to clear the Suboxone which attaches to the opiate receptors so tightly and for so long (at the dosages I was at) that at least 2 weeks off Suboxone was necessary in order for it not to interfere with Ibogaine treatment. I decided to go through with treatment in London under the care of Dr. Peter Breckenridge due to a small heart defect I have which is contraindicated with Ibogaine. Dr. Henrik Theisen, who had been providing me with Suboxone while in Copenhagen, was open and willing to help me take Ibogaine and provided me with morphine to switch to while the Suboxone was clearing out of my system. I was on morphine for 18 days before treatment, and this was absolutely necessary as it was quite hard as it was and I could feel the Suboxone lingering in my system down to the last day. On the final day of my opiate use I was on approximately 420mg of morphine orally.
Dr. Breckenridge provided me with 1400mg of Ibogaine HCL plus a little capsule containing extracts of the Iboga root bark alkaloids as I felt this would make it less like taking a “pharmaceutical drug”. Just like smoking marijuana, it is not just the THC that produces the high, different alkaloids of the plant contribute to each strains unique effect and I wanted to have as much as the full effect of the root bark as possible as I feel that the alkaloids present other than Ibogaine HCL also have an affect on the trip and visions and so on.
I ingested the big dose at approximately 12pm on Saturday the 18th of October GMT. I had already been taking 100mg capsules of the Ibogaine HCL on Friday as I stopped using the morphine on Thursday night around 12am. I was feeling the Ibogaine I had already taken plus some withdrawal symptoms. However, those kind of just vanished without me really noticing as the big dose kicked in. Peter had a room all set up and I went down and laid in bed on my back after changing into more comfortable clothing. I felt at peace. I could feel the drug surging through my body, each and every vein and artery and it was quite pleasurable but not in a euphoric way, but rather a very comforting way as if I was turning control of my life over to the Ibogaine. I felt safe and even happy. I was excited to be doing this and curious to see how it would turn out.
Slowly but surely I began to notice visual distortions. First everything began to become more significant and things that would normally be ignored or unacknowledged with no real thought began to become quit intriguing. I lost all sense of time as this was happening. I was still lying on my back and felt as if I could do so for the rest of my life and be completely content. My body parts felt extremely heavy and I eventually turned onto my side into the fetal position. It was a big process doing that. It felt as if it would take all my strength to do so but it was actually quite easy when put into practice. At this point I started to see visual hallucinations on the ceiling as if it were a canvas. First shapes and some minor patterns, but they soon evolved into images of a jungle canopy with lots of ropes and vines, leaves even, but curiously very little of the trunks of the trees. I saw some animals too- a jaguar perhaps (big cats) and a gorilla, even some birds (maybe parrots but peter had recordings of birds playing in the background so I think I can safely assume why those appeared) though they were not frightening. As the shapes evolved into jungle images Peter turned the lights off. This is when things really started to get intense.
I heard the buzzing everyone speaks of, but it was more like a ringing that never became too loud or uncomfortable. At this point the most significant thing happened. I was looking into what seemed to be this cylindrical tube that went off into the distance but had one ends opening at my eyes, though they were closed at this point. Then from the end of the tunnel farthest from me a shape appeared. I think it was a square and it was moving closer to me every second and as it began to get quite close it morphed into a skull and crossbones and right as it was about to hit my face it evaporated like a mist before hitting me. I couldn’t figure out the significance of it at that second but right afterwards two more shapes came at me one was a square—the same shape that morphed into the skull and crossbones and the other was a circle or hexagonal like shape. The square on the left, corresponding with my left eye and the circle on the right corresponding with my right side and eye. I then realized the significance of the shapes. I was presented with a choice at that point—I had to choose one of the shapes. I chose the circle/hexagon. The square represented death and misery – i.e. skull and crossbones. It also was a metaphor for drugs, though I have been fortunate enough to use drugs in a rather safe manner throughout my life—haha that’s an oxymoron if I have ever heard one. Anyways, The next vision I saw was an African woman dressed as if she were in an abstract painting done by an African of his or her community. She wanted me to follow her though this tube that the shapes had come to me through. We went into the tube on the right—the one represented by the circle/hexagon. The tube itself seemed futuristic to me at the time but reflections on the trip have made me realize it was a symbolic umbilical cord. I followed her for what felt like a few minutes. Then things really started to crank into high gear, where she left me was in outer space.
This is where things start to get hard to describe but I will try. Remind you, I was out at this point. I couldn’t even tell if you my eyes were open or closed but I think they were closed and I was still lying on my side in the fetal position. It’s hard to say what order these visions came in but I’ll try. I remember reading online yesterday this from ibogaine.co.uk:
It is worth remembering that, no matter what they may appear to be about, Ibogaine visions invariably contain much personal content. One symbolic device that often appears to be used by the drug is the cloaking of personal issues as world affairs, frequently either political or ecological scenarios that appear to threaten the planet.
One example of this is that of the opiate user who experienced being shown that mankind was an evolutionary mistake that was now destroying the world – the revealing of deep-rooted feelings of lack of self-worth. Another example is the individual, whose father had exerted a excessively controlling influence over his childhood, who experienced being shown that the world was under the control of elite banking groups. Whilst the scenario experienced may appear valid to the individual, and may indeed even be valid, it should be remembered that there will invariably be much personal significance.
The part where they mention ecological and political scenarios, world affairs even, this seem to characterize this part of the trip though with a major focus on the ecological aspects and how those affected the latter. I also had similar experiences to the opiate user who felt that mankind was a mistake destroying the earth, though I don’t feel at this point that it was a metaphor for repressed feelings, but what do I know… ?
So basically this was my favorite part of the trip but hardest to describe. I imagined I was in Africa in a setting out of the Disney movie the Lion King (this is the best way to describe it haha) but it was all much more real literally, figuratively and physically. There were little creatures… very small about the size of a small dog or cat and they seemed to represent humans on some level. They all moved in unison and were quite colorful. They had patches of white creamy skin and darker streaks and they seemed to be dancing on a green field around a large tree that represented mother nature. There were hundreds of these creatures, if not thousands. They didn’t have feet or hands but stumps but they were still able to move around just fine. At the numbers that they were at they were in harmony with nature. Living off the land benign, it reminded me of documentaries I had seen about the Serengeti in Africa—everything has its place and is a beautiful show of evolution. This is where things changed in my trip though as the little creatures began to multiply and it got out of hand. Soon they went from being in harmony with the Earth to out of harmony with it, putting far too much stress on it. At this point they were replaced with humans. They (the creatures) remained in the state of evolution they were at and kind of fell into the background and this scene of them dancing around the tree would come into my trip many more times but for now it was background material.
Things now switched back to me in my college town of Isla Vista back home in California just outside of Santa Barbara. It is a stunningly beautiful area though on Suboxone I could not appreciate as much as I do now, even in my memories. It is about a 2 or 3 square kilometer area with over 20,000 people living in it almost all of them between the ages of 18 and 30. Very unique place. Everyone rides bikes just like here in Copenhagen. Anyways, I was suddenly in the thick of the town surrounded by girls (lucky me) and some guys and I began to feel as if though they were at one of the more prestigious Universities in the state, in the country and in the world, that they could not see the system (the system being the corruption money and power bring and exploitation of the environment. This area needs a little explaining. I have been reading lots of books on the economy and have closely followed the unbelievable things the US and other countries have done to and in the world from first hand accounts to personal experience). That they were only concerned with having sex and multiplying and having a family and none of the larger issues in the world and I just had this really complacent picture of the united states that made me worried. I don’t think this is surprising given what is happening right now. This faded quickly though and I began to see humans on a larger more primal scale.
Suddenly I could see that humans were not necessarily an evolutionary mistake but rather just doing a shit job of taking care of the planet. That they felt entitled to everything. It is hard to recall everything at this point because this was the peak of the trip and I was pretty much in a dreaming/waking state. But the first thing I remember coming out of it was that I was in space again and everything was very futuristic. Japanese style cartoon robots were everywhere. I had more control over the visions at this point but not so much, and I wasn’t fighting it at all so I kind of just went with it. I felt as if I was in a futuristic city at first with motorcycles in bright neon colors racing around tall buildings and these cartoonish robot characters were everywhere still but now they were bright/neon pink, yellow, green, orange… They were in formations almost military like though the robots were certainly not violent or militaristic in any way shape or form, rather they gave off a soft kind of gentleness that they were just there more than anything else. They were lined up in rows based on their color. They kind of looked like mushrooms where the top or head of the mushroom was the neon color and the stem was white on all of them, the same color. And they all had these round black eyes but they seemed to lack any real sort of life.
Then all of a sudden the visions stopped (or at least I thought they did at the time) and my eyes bolted open. I was suddenly conscious again but still tripping though I didn’t realize it at first which later led to me becoming quite paranoid. I asked peter what time it was and he told me and it only had been 8 hours but it felt like I had been out for the entire weekend. Once I adjusted to that reality I laid back down and my thoughts began to race, The fun part was over and now I was to be shown what my life would be like if I didn’t quit opiates. I was transported back in time to the previous times I had to kick cold turkey and the agony that accompanied them. Specifically though, when I got onto Suboxone I did so at a big Rehab center in the San Fernando valley that took all the people in from court who had committed crimes to support their drug habits or were caught with drugs or had simply destroyed their lives in pursuit of getting high. It was something I was not used to because I had managed to keep my shit together every time I got caught up in using, except for the last time when monetarily, things started to get out of control, which is partially why I wanted to stop using (the other part being that I hated being trapped in addiction and the lifestyle was not fun and was hurting everything else in my life). As I started to recall memories of the things I saw and heard at that clinic which was full of the most hardcore drug users I had ever been around, and I mean Hard fucking core, I began to go into, or at least feel like I was going into withdrawal myself. This slowly increased in intensity until I thought and felt like I was in full blown withdrawals. I made peter aware and he continuously monitored my vitals but they were normal for Ibogaine. I was extremely achey and felt a huge lack of endorphins and had the chills and they were all intense but I was lacking all the other withdrawal symptoms normally associated with coming off of Opiates. My lower back was killing me because of the bed I was on so peter gave me some acupuncture which actually helped quite a lot and even to this day I can feel it.
Well, the withdrawal symptoms did not go away, they just got worse and worse and I started to mull over things in my mind. I thought things like “I paid $3000 for this and I’m still in withdrawals, its not working!” And then I started to think that everything was a big mistake, that I didn’t do enough research, I didn’t ask enough questions, I hadn’t prepared myself properly. It even got so bad that I doubted peter was a doctor at one point (sorry peter, you know…. Psychedelic drugs, they make you think weird sometimes) I got very suspicious of everything. My mind was racing. In reality Peter was doing an excellent job of keeping me as comfortable as he could given the state I was in and was very accommodating. He offered me more Ibogaine. I was in such a bad place then, thinking it hadn’t worked, that I was extremely hesitant to take more. So I didn’t. In retrospect, I wish I would have. But anyways. I thought about a lot of personal shit in a very negative way because of the space I was in at that point thinking that the Ibogaine had not worked and that it was all a fraud, not remembering the scientific studies I had read about it and everything else, not to mention the documentaries plus the people I had talked to. I felt bad about a lot of the situations that I had got myself into on and doing drugs and to obtain drugs or the financial resources to purchase them as an OxyContin 80mg pill was selling for $45 dollars and I was taking four a day towards the end. However, after the initial paranoia my thoughts became much more logical and I started to realize that a lot of the things I had been thinking were way off base. I came to terms with a lot of my using history at this point as well as issues between me and my girlfriend (though mostly about my relationship with her and how it has affected her relationship with her family). I also thought about the irrationality that even opiates bring, seeing as how out of all drugs they alter reality the least. That euphoria from opiates makes the world seem like its at your fingertips and you are wrapped in the softest rabbit fur blanket that warms your being, your core, your soul… but at such a heavy price. Withdrawal from opiates is the worst thing in the world. I would not wish it on my worst enemy. As I started to realize the paranoia was irrational, I began to reflect on my trip and life and what I had done and even though I had used drugs, become addicted, very much so even, that I need to wear it as a badge of pride, that it is nothing to be ashamed of. I had overcome addiction to OxyContin, that fucking pure synthetic pill. The difference between heroin and pharmaceutical opiates is that the pharmaceuticals are so pure, so reliable. Their high is the same EVERY TIME, and its so pure and good. Not to mention their potency. OxyContin is 1.5 times strong as Morphine, that’s some powerful shit, it rivals the best heroin. A different high- less nod, more social. It is the perfect drug. In the US they hand it out like candy. Pharmaceutical companies rule the medical industry in the US with an iron fist and as fucked up as it is, OxyContin is the ultimate profit machine. You get addicted, you need more, each pill costs $5 (with a prescription), chronic pain rarely goes away. Drug companies rarely develop medications that aren’t meant to be taken everyday. Enough about that. To overcome that gave me pride. I knew I could never put opiates in my body ever again. I felt like shit then but I had to stick it out no matter how bad it got. I had invested everything I had in this and for it to fail, would be devastating and likely lead to more drug use.
I decided then and there I would commit myself mentally to dealing with everything. I was so weak physically though it was hard to do anything, even roll over in bed. My thoughts were still racing but slower at this point and I began to start to review the trip and all parts of it. A figure who was named “Mama Iboga” kept echoing throughout my thoughts. It was the same African lady who had led me though the umbilical cord tube. It seemed like she would protect me and for some reason I associated her with Sara in Amsterdam although I had only ever briefly talked to her on the phone and through e-mail. Though she seemed to exude that motherly quality. I also thought back repeatedly, more than any other thought to those creatures dancing around the big tree at the beginning of the trip. They gave me comfort. It told me that under all the shit we build on top of it, all the waste we dump into it, all the pillaging and raping of it, Earth was and is still alive and is still salvageable. It was a message of hope. And I needed that at that point.
The withdrawals were getting bad and nothing was really helping so I decided to take the capsule of Ibogaine peter had offered me earlier, sort of out of desperation (100mg). It helped though, which was why I said I should have taken it earlier when I had the chance. The Ibogaine trip is so heavy and intense and physical that when it is over, your body is BEAT and exhausted which makes you feel like you are going through[i] withdrawals. And sometimes you actually are because Ibogaine doesn’t eliminate withdrawals in everyone, but it dramatically reduces them, and even though they got quite bad how I perceived them, they were definitely better than going cold turkey, 100%. Physically you are exhausted- you haven’t slept for over a day and your body is being stressed hard, you haven’t eaten, you are bed ridden… all these things make you week and because of the prolongation of them all due to Ibogaine’s extraordinarily long half life it can make you feel like a ton of bricks.
*Written 10 days after stopping Morphine, 9 days after the large dose of Ibogaine
I am feeling better now. I am starting to eat again, actually have hunger, which was lacking for days after the trip. I have been corresponding with Howard and Dimitri and as they both stated, aftercare with Ibogaine is huge. It is the factor that will likely make or break whether you stay clean or not. I happen to be in a fantastic situation in which I know. No one here who can get me opiates and I’m not about to start asking around at the train station. But, for someone returning to the same environment in which they were using, there needs to be a detailed and thought out plan. Also, it is my recommendation that they stay in after care with the Ibogaine provider as long as possible to get themselves up to normal levels of functioning as the after effects of Ibogaine can linger quite long and it is enough to drive some to use again. However, everyone is different, but as they say, hope for the best, prepare for the worst. This couldn’t be truer for Ibogaine. No matter what ends up happening after you take Ibogaine, whether you use again, or stay clean for the rest of your life, you will undoubtedly make much personal progress on a subconscious level.
October 27th, 2008.