Thursday, 4 July 2013

Ibogaine Treatment Available in Britain

I’m a scientist and after years of studying all aspects of addiction (there are more than you think) I was about to start working on a PhD. Then I discovered that in 1962 the late Howard Lotsof accidentally found that Ibogaine was a cure for all kinds of addiction (and potentially might even work with depression). He took out several patents in the USA and spent his remaining years trying to promote Ibogaine. To his utter amazement he couldn’t get any of the American drug companies or research facilities interested in developing or researching Ibogaine.

51 years, and thousands of wasted lives later very little has actually happened. It is after all, not in the interests of either drug companies or treatment providers to cure people of all their addictions in one single treatment. Why would they kill the golden goose of life-long-maintenance and put themselves out of a well paid job? Another drawback to research and development was that Ibogaine was deemed to be a hallucinogen and demonised along with LSD and was therefore, banned in America; it is also illegal in the UK and most of Europe.

Nobody should attempt Ibogaine therapy without medical supervision

This frustrating situation tempted some desperate addicts to treat themselves with Ibogaine obtained illegally. Most were successful but without medical supervision there were several deaths from exhaustion, dehydration, or undiagnosed heart conditions. Anyone contemplating using Ibogaine needs to be reasonably fit and it is crucial to have had their heart and liver functions checked first.In 1999, a woman neuroscientist called Deborah Mash began exploring the potential of Ibogaine. She has been especially keen to reduce some of the risks and rigours involved in the original formula, which produces a highly intense 36 hour long ‘trip.’  

To put it in very simple terms the brain’s opiate receptors (and the addiction related neurotransmitters) are ‘repaired’ during the Ibogaine experience. Professor Mash has recently complete first stages of trials of a new derivative of the iboga herb that will be much safer, especially for people with health issues such as heart conditions. Until human testing is completed it is impossible to know whether this version will be as effective as Ibogaine version one. If the rest of us just sit back silently and wait it could be another fifty-one years before Ibogaine finally becomes widely available.   

Ibogaine is still almost completely unknown in the west and nobody else is working on it; and in Britain nobody is doing anything about researching Ibogaine at all. In fact none of the treatment agencies, with whom I have spoken in England are offering it, or had even heard of it. There is one thing that everyone can do and that is to spread the word about the existence of Ibogaine; not only to those who need it but also to those whose job it should be to provide it.

Ask your health care providers whether they know about it and if not, ask them why not when it has been around for 51 years. Write to politicians and anyone else you can think of - let’s get our brains in gear to find some way to get this treatment into clinics and saving lives. I am doing everything I can think of as a scientist, a writer, and human being but it is all taking too long and people are still dying. Nobody in the area of addiction science appears to be interested in doing Ibogaine research. They all seem content to wait for the team in Miami. I hope that if the public know that the Ibogaine option exists, and that it works (it has been used successfully in Mexico for ten years) they might be able to bring pressure on the British NHS to begin offering Ibogaine to the thousands of British addicts who currently have no hope except methadone (with its 3% success rate after 2 years).

In 2004, film-maker David Graham-Scott made his documentary on Ibogaine therapy, Detox or Die! (shown on British TV and can be seen on YouTube) There are now between one and three Ibogaine therapists working privately in London but none of these are licensed by the British Government (and two out of the three related websites won’t open so they might have been closed down). The only treatment offered in Britain by NHS clinics is the highly dangerous and equally ineffective methadone (see Wikipedia for methadone related deaths MRDs; and methadone rehab figures. You can find them in Google. You might also wish to explore the Ibogaine Dossier where you can confirm what I have said and learn more). Nobody should attempt this therapy without medical supervision. 

If you have a problem addiction and want to learn more about this therapy put Ibogaine treatment + UK into Google.or go here:  

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Two Different Types of Addiction?

The most hopeful treatment for all additions (as I write) is Ibogaine (see link) and but it is still undergoing medical trials in the USA. There are many other psychiatric conditions for which this therapy could possibly prove effective, from most types of depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

However, to date there are still no Ibogaine trials planned for the UK. For now British patients would need to go abroad for this treatment (probably Mexico). This treatment was discovered in the 1960s. However, after taking out several patents to prevent others from researching or promoting it, the finder failed to develop it himself while thousands more people continue to die unnecessarily.   

Two Types of Addictions: Chemically Dependent, or a Wilful Abuser? 

In spite of many different substances and even 'addictions' to processes, such as shopping or gambling, I believe that all addictions have the same neural roots and will be found to be driven by the same mechanisms; involving the same endorphins and neurotransmitters. However, in, The Science of Addiction: From Neurobiology to Treatment, Erickson (2007) states that there are two different types of addiction. He claims that ‘chemically dependent’ addiction is the result of a congenital brain disease, while the other, which he describes as ‘wilful abuse’ is he claims, the result of choice. This group would probably include self-medicators, suffering from things like post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. 

I had serious doubts about this 'wilful abuse' theory. I suspect that this idea is the result of treatment in the USA being paid for by insurance companies who don't want to pay to treat a condition if it is self-inflicted. However, after I explored the neurobiology behind addiction further, and talked to addicts I realise that there are at least two different kinds of addiction and there might even be more. Although there are definite similarities between addictions to different substances, there are also many differences between them. I believe that it is also possible to become addicted by accident rather than choice, especially with alcohol but it is less likely with heroin.

In order to understand the causes of addiction, I needed to learn more about what Erickson (2007) termed: wilful substance abuse, which according to him doesn't really need treatment, and chemical dependence. Many neuroscientists and pharmacologists like Erickson assume that alcoholism and heroin addiction are the same but there are important differences. Is addiction entirely the result of an innate brain disease or is it totally psycho-social or are these two combined with many other factors? In addition to psychology I studied philosophy, in spite of it not lighting my fuse (in fact much of it bored the Emanuel Kant’s off me). However, I think it is the right place to learn how to be analytically critical. I also needed to learn about logic and reasoning, rhetoric,  choice and what else influences human decision making. 

I needed to find out how much influence is from external factors like social pressure from the groups to which we belong. Tajfel and Turner, performed an interesting study on this] which showed how much of our identity is influenced by external factors like the company we keep. much from internal factors like poor self-esteem or depression. After a great many years of study, I conclude that we do have free will but not to the extent that most people believe. Although we are responsible for our actions, there are often mitigating circumstances outside our control. I am still not certain yet whether this somewhat limited freedom of choice extends to addiction. Is it really a choice or just a default option? I am however, absolutely certain that recovery is a choice. If you really want to know more about this, the link to Wikipedia is always a good place to begin:

We cannot prevent ourselves falling in love, nor can we control who we fall in love with, but unlike other animals we can usually control what we do about the feelings. Human beings can choose which emotions to act upon and which to ignore. I believe we have as much free will as we have determination, self-discipline also known as willpower. Self-discipline is something we develop through determination and practise; the more we use it the more we have, willpower never wears out. However, there are extreme circumstances when hormonally driven unconscious defence mechanisms take over.

One of the strongest of these is flight or fight mode where no amount of determination or self-discipline can work to control our actions because it has all been switched off. In practical terms we are on auto-pilot. We have no choice but to react blindly and instinctively; and do things that we would never do in a normal mental state. If a terrified animal/human cannot flee it is forced to fight; even with its owner if they are preventing its flight.

You will know what I mean if you have ever rescued a cat from a snarling dog, to have it turn on you; hissing, spitting, scratching and clawing its way up over your face and onto your head, where it will hang on by its claws until it calms down. Typical humans develop enough self-discipline during childhood to ignore most hormonal drives and destructive impulses. They can also choose between working hard to achieve the best life they can or they can choose to sit, dream, and sleep their lives away.

Psychologists who study social interaction and inter-group dynamics claim that most people need social affirmation and approval. Group members do not make any decision until they know what everyone else is going to do and take their position in group hierarchy very seriously. One team of researchers found that people dread the loss of their social or professional status as much if not more than they fear death (cannot remember their name). This might be very difficult for some people to believe, especially younger people who not yet achieved any status themselves. Status is incredibly important to people who have spent their whole lives working hard to achieve a certain position. This finding was confirmed in December 2012, by the tragic suicide of a highly respected and totally dedicated middle-aged nurse, after she was fooled by a prank phone call.

Her distraught family said that her career meant everything to her. It is easy to understand how this could have affected her self-esteem; and shaken her confidence in her ability to keep the respect of her colleagues. This loss of career status, combined with the threat of becoming the subject of work-place jokes was more than she could bear. One factor that might have had increased her feeling of hopelessness and isolation was that her family were so far away. I have noticed that sudden loss of a parent, or lack of family support can often be seen to be a factor in adolescent drug use.        

Discursive psychologists cite further constraints on human autonomy when they attribute the existence of everything to the power of language. They claim that nothing significant exists until it is spoken, written or thought about and put into words. So if you stub your toe on a rock while out hiking you had better say something about it fast before you are accused of hysteria.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Changing an Addicted Identity

Who Chose My Identity?

One area of psychology that has a profound effect on all psychology students is identity construction, and the discovery that humans can construct their own identities. What is more amazing is the discovery that identity construction is never completely finished. We can choose to carry on developing ourselves into a new improved version for as long as we want. We can even choose to construct a completely new identity if and whenever we feel like it. Although we have to be prepared to work hard to make it a successful identity or it will be just as messed up as the first one. My first thought was if humans construct their own identities, why do many of us (me included) construct ones that they are so unhappy with?

Of course, it is because people don’t realise that there is any choice, and when they do find out they are not prepared to work at it hard enough. They grow up believing that who and what they are is determined at birth or even conception and is thereafter set in stone. This is false, all you really need to do is decide who and what you want to be, and then start becoming that person (and don’t let anyone tell you that ‘you can’t’ because it is entirely up to you). You might need to fight to overcome both nature and nurture (genetic and environmental influences) in order to achieve your goals but with enough determination it is possible.

Change of identity is achieved by doing whatever that new identity would do; and by not doing whatever the new person would not do (this might require the breaking of some bad old habits and cultivating better ones). Next, get qualified to do a job you love, (no GCEs, join the Open University they can lead you into a new life, it is what they do) and then take the necessary steps to reach achievable goals. Learn to deal with failure by trying again, only much harder until you succeed. Each goal will take you nearer, until you realise that you have become the person you always wanted.

Identity is initially constructed through the guidance of parents and family. Small children see themselves through their parent’s eyes. Then in later years identity is further shaped by our friends, teachers, books, television, music, fashion and wider society all add to the influences that construct us. By adolescence we should have developed enough independence, self-discipline and confidence to allow us to take over the job of building an identity. It is at this point we can do a complete overhaul facilitating major changes, or simply add the finishing touches. On the other hand we might do nothing at all and just let ourselves grow into whatever shape life and the environment dictate, like the man in Metamorphosis by Kafka, who awoke one day to discover that he had turned into a cockroach.

First, there is the ancient question of how much free will humans actually have. It has been debated for thousands of years by philosophers whether all our actions are the result of freewill and reasoned choice or forced on us by circumstances. Then there is the deterministic viewpoint that claims all our actions constrained by a combination of internal and external forces. The internal influences on behaviour are such things as emotionally triggered chemical or hormonal responses, like fear, hunger, or sexual arousal. External influences on behaviour and choice are physical environmental factors such as climate and food resources; social environmental factors such as the rewards or punishment imposed by parents, and teachers. Later on there is peer-pressure, followed by puberty; then in the teens and adulthood there is social status, and career requirements. ( )

This issue of free will has recently been reopened by psychological and neurological research by Baer, Kaufman, and Baumeister (2008): ( ).

Humans certainly have more free will than other animals, whose actions are controlled almost entirely by hormones, instincts, and environmental conditioning. However, according to 'determinism', humans have much less freedom of choice than the Bible promised. Determinists claim that everything is predetermined by whatever happened before. An off-shoot is compatibilism, and its opposite incompatibilism. Compatibilists believe that with compromises it is possible to accept both free will and determinism.

A neuroscientist called, Libet, performed experiments in the 1980s that support determinism. He claimed that conscious actions are preceded by unconscious signals that occur in the brain before any conscious decision is made. However, in Libet’s time there was only the electroencephalograph (EEG) to examine the activity inside a living brain. I believe that Libet misinterpreted the readings. Cognitive neuroscience has shown that the unconscious brain knows things of which the conscious brain is unaware. It is possible that the experimenter was unconsciously giving a signal, ‘a tell’, to which the participant’s brain reacted. The spikes could have been the unconscious brain preparing itself to be ready for the signals that the participants knew were coming, even if they did not know exactly what or when.