Unpacking Addiction With Ibogaine

Unpacking Addiction With Ibogaine

Mainstream therapies are becoming a thing of the past. Research shows that psychedelics are able to open realms and treat a broad range of mental health issues, especially when it comes to addiction. 

But there's a specific psychedelic that Talia Eisenberg utilizes in her practice: ibogaine. Talia, the founder of Beond, a Mexico-based psychedelic-assisted ibogaine treatment, works with clients to heal addiction, anxiety and trauma. 

Here, Talia shares the mechanism behind ibogaine and how it can be used to treat a variety of addictions, what the treatment looks like at Beond, and she explains the five phases of the Beond delivery model. 

What is Ibogaine? How does this plant work to disrupt addiction? 

Ibogaine is a psychedelic medicine commonly used to treat chemical dependency and more recently, behavioral addictions, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Ibogaine is derived from the root bark of the taberna, the iboga shrub that is most often found in central west Africa. Ibogaine, specifically is a hydrochloride that results from the laboratory purification of the root bark of the iboga plant. At Beond we use pharmaceutical-grade ibogaine that is tested for purity to ensure the most precise dosing possible, which helps improve all patient outcomes.

How has addiction and substance abuse affected you personally?

As a result of a prescription from a dental procedure at the age of 20, I became dependent on Vicodin, and when I couldn’t get any more, I started buying it off the street. It relieved me of the anxiety and trauma that I was born feeling. I also had an eating disorder that began at age 13 as a way to cope. Vicodin was a transfer of one addiction to another. I was living in New York City and founded a small emerging art gallery. I was part of the social scene and nightlife and was traveling around the world — all looked good from the outside, but I felt like a walking corpse. I was scared of living.

This story of trauma and addiction is not unique because it happens hundreds of times a day in the US. Addiction is the great equalizer from a socioeconomic, racial, and gender perspective, and it impacts everyone regardless of where you come from. It is the number one killer under the age of 40 in the US currently. Every five minutes in the US, someone overdoses. Created by the perfect storm of loneliness, trauma, media, pharmaceutical greed, and profits, it’s a serious epidemic with very few effective solutions.

What is unique is that I found ibogaine a few years later, in 2011 and the medicine worked miraculously to interrupt withdrawals and cravings while also catalyzing the pursuit of a lifelong healing journey. However, the environment in which it was administered was unsafe and didn’t provide the level of professionalism, therapeutic or medical support that's needed.

How did you come to open your own ibogaine treatment center?

After being freed from both behavioral and chemical addictions and dating really awful men, I went on to do more plant medicine work and therapy and to get an MBA, marry the love of my life, have children, and champion this experience through public speaking and writing. Only to be met with the plaintiff appeals from people and loved ones who were unable to stop their addictions and heal the underlying causes in the US treatment recovery model. People would ask where can we go or where can we send people for effective ibogaine assistive therapy. There wasn’t any place that I felt was good enough, so we built it. That place is Beond.

What makes Beond unique compared to other treatment centers? 

We have one exceptional standard of care: we treat celebrities, investment bankers, electricians, physicians, musicians, pro athletes, moms, entrepreneurs, and tugboat drivers all the same. We believe in the safest, most effective access to the world’s best psychedelic-assisted therapy. 

Beond is the world’s first and most advanced psychedelic-assisted treatment facility for trauma, depression, anxiety, and chemical dependency. What makes us special is that we built a facility that uses modern medicine, advanced professional training, psychotherapeutic engagement, and world-class hospitality combined with the technological innovation of ibogaine. 

We are special because we have the most experienced physicians, professional nursing staff, and other team members who have not only experienced ibogaine at Beond, but have chosen to dedicate their lives to the best possible administration of this powerful plant medicine. What makes us special is that we infuse our own personal healing transformation into the loving care that we provide each and every one of our guests every day that they are with us. We treat every single client the way we would want to be treated ourselves or better.

How does this plant work to disrupt addiction? 

There remains research underway and some clinical debate around the precise mechanism of action for ibogaine. However, what we do know is that ibogaine works specifically on the serotonin system and the kappa opioid receptors. It also significantly boosts GDNF (glial-derived neurotrophic peptide factor) to provide a uniquely powerful and combined effect to reduce depression, eliminating most of the withdrawals and cravings and accelerating the motivation for change in the body and mind of an individual suffering from chemical dependency or addictive behaviors. This is only one of the primary contexts in which ibogaine can be enormously beneficial. At Beond, we routinely treat individuals experiencing severe depression, anxiety, and the lasting effects of PTSD and traumatic brain injury. Here is our clinical summary.

What does an ibogaine treatment experience look like at your center?

An ibogaine treatment experience at Beond starts with an effective medical evaluation by licensed, credentialed career physicians and professional care providers. We establish a relationship with every individual based on our multidimensional definition of safety, which includes medical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual dimensions. 

The ibogaine treatment looks like a self-motivated multipronged approach to therapeutic engagement that includes psychotherapy, nutrition, bodywork, sound healing, and movement. The 12-hour psychedelic experience is conducted in a class 1 medical facility that has been designed to ensure the most peaceful, warm, and inspiring experience possible. This includes noise-canceling headphones, custom-designed playlists, specialized eye masks designed for comfort, and warm muted lightning. When appropriate, we also have environmental accents that include scents and weighted blankets. 

Most guests choose to bring items of personal significance to accompany them on the ibogaine experience. Of course, we use the most advanced medical technologies required to ensure the highest level of safety possible. We use the same tools that any modern hospital or ICU uses in the United States. The experience of ibogaine at Beond looks like an environment conducive to facilitating diverse experiences of miraculous personal transformation. There are a lot of smiles, some tears, and an overwhelming exhibition of love, care, and compassion

What is the protocol for integration with ibogaine?

The five phases of the Beond delivery model, which we call Insight-Oriented Ibogaine, depend on effective protocols for integration. What is less commonly understood is that acute aftercare and long-term integration not only depends on an effective coauthored roadmap for success that every client develops with one of our therapists, but begins with proper and effective preparation and pretreatment protocols. 

The goal of pretreatment at Beond is to understand what healing means in the context of the “whole person.” Integration in most psychedelic protocols means taking a few days before we go back to work and the hustle-harder lifestyle that is largely devoid of self-love and human connection. At Beond, we believe that it is crucial to start integration long before any administration of ibogaine to prepare the body, mind, and soul for the lasting and self-motivated change that is possible as a result of effective aftercare, coaching, and continuous follow-up. 

What is the success rate of this treatment?

Conventional therapy and intervention for chemical dependency, depression, anxiety, and trauma use a success metric that starts with effective interruption of the acute symptom of dependency. Statistically, most individuals who attempt conventional treatment methods in the United States have a 50% chance of completing the treatment at all. Of the half that do complete the treatment, less than 10% report satisfactory results. Ibogaine represents the inverse of these statistics. By far, most people complete the treatment and of those, most of them report satisfactory results and enduring benefits in nearly every aspect of their lives. 

How many treatments would one need? 

Like most plans for effective treatment, this depends on the circumstances and characteristics of the situation. We see radical transformation with one primary dose of ibogaine when combined with proper preparation, pretreatment, acute aftercare, and long-term support that is facilitated by trained professionals utilizing effective therapeutic engagement. 

However, there is a range of circumstances that warrant supplementary doses of ibogaine in this context. Additionally, some individuals choose ibogaine-assisted therapy for the most acute symptoms of chemical dependency, depression, anxiety, and trauma, only to later realize that there is more work to be done and benefits to be realized. These individuals sometimes choose to return to Beond for additional treatments and experience new and lasting benefits. For example, Stan, a retired professional who struggled for 50 years with chemical dependency and was able to interrupt and arrest the acute symptoms of opioid addiction. After ten days of therapy at Beond, he left free of the habit of daily use that had hobbled him almost his entire adult life. After returning home, he realized the ibogaine arrested the addiction and yet he wanted to enjoy life more fully. He has elected to participate in additional ibogaine-assisted therapy at Beond to more deeply examine early childhood trauma that may have contributed to the origination of his long-term chemical dependency. We look forward to his return.

It is said that emotional trauma and pain are at the root of addiction. How much of addiction is rooted in our trauma? 

All of addiction is rooted in trauma, in my opinion. There are as many forms of trauma as there are experiences of pain. As my friend Gabor Mate points out in his groundbreaking work “The Realm of the Hungry Ghost,” trauma is not limited to the experience of severe physical abuse, abandonment, neglect, or worse. Everyone we see today has experienced trauma in many forms, including ancestral. Some severe forms of trauma, many mundane. Without effective and healthy relief, these experiences are not resolved and continue to accumulate in the psyche and body only to warrant various forms of relief. 

What sometimes happens is people have trauma, they have a back problem, they get opiates, and an overwhelming relief occurs. This works better and more effectively than shopping, Netflix, or anything else, and that’s why they can’t stop. This is how an otherwise non-habitual drug user suddenly has an unprecedented sense of relief and false sense of freedom that is better than anything they have ever experienced. The back may be healed, but the wounds of decades before are not. For this underlying reason, ibogaine combined with proper preparation, pretreatment, acute aftercare, and long-term aftercare built on a foundation of therapeutic engagement, is more effective than any other treatment ever practiced.

How does ibogaine give us the ability to come face to face with our trauma? 

Because ibogaine causes an extremely deep and lasting psychedelic experience when used in a medically safe and ethical manner, individuals have a sense that they have traveled into the deepest recesses of their conscious and unconscious memory. Here, they examine parts of their life experience that they either could not or would not previously look at. 

For example, a recent guest named Kate, who is now living her best life as a transexual woman, struggled for decades with the trauma, depression, anxiety, confusion, and frustration of being unable to feel fully alive in her body. In many relationships, including her first marriage and through the birth and parenting of her children, she felt a continuous sense of dissatisfaction, difficulty, and detour from a fundamental alignment with who she truly is. Even with a successful career as a tech founder, a supportive community, and years of therapeutic engagement by trained professionals, there was still significant opportunity for healing. With the benefit of ibogaine at Beond, in the context of our delivery model, “insight-oriented ibogaine,” Kate like many, many other guests, was able to feel whole, healed, renewed, and motivated to celebrate anew. The psychedelic journey she experienced at Beond not only reminded her of and reaffirmed her profound sense of worthiness and self-love, but the experience catapulted her into a newfound motivation to express these feelings in many more aspects of her life. 

How does ibogaine work with behavioral addictions such as anorexia or bulimia? 

After treating thousands of individuals, and as a result of many observational studies, we know that ibogaine has profound transformative effects on many parts of the brain that can contribute to overcoming the root cause of behavioral addiction and maladaptive patterns. The psychologists and doctors who work with Beond have been treating people with ibogaine for nearly thirty years. Over this time, the assumptions about the purpose of ibogaine to interrupt addiction have been proven accurate and expanded widely to demonstrate the effectiveness in its ability to help people understand the root cause of suffering and the harmful effects of counterproductive efforts for relief. 

I believe ibogaine is more effective than any other substance known to humankind at facilitating the discovery of the barriers to human connection to self and to others with lasting transformation. There are many psychedelic substances that can help with acute depression and trauma, but ibogaine goes deeper, lasts longer, and is far more effective at facilitating enduring change. We have had the honor and privilege of working with individuals struggling with addiction to digital devices, relationships, pornography, gambling, food, and more, and we are inspired by their individual and collective examples of radical transformation and healing. We believe these people are pioneers and heroes. 

What does the future look like for Beond and how does regulation come into play in these types of centers? 

In the future, many of our healed and satisfied clients will have had the opportunity to share the benefits that originated from their self-motivated transformation at Beond with their loved ones, spouses, friends, coworkers, and communities. They will be the human embodiment of the discovery and practice of what has become habitually beyond their story of their past trauma, chemical or behavioral dependency, depression, or suffering. Some of them will have returned to Beond to do deeper healing work, some of them may have inspired other people to begin the work that our past guests have completed. We expect many more guests to bring a wide range of opportunities to help them heal and to help them achieve an optimized life experience of body, mind, and soul. 

To me, it seems not only likely, but inevitable that the work that we do and the miraculous outcomes that we witness on a daily basis will cause elected officials and policymakers to extend these benefits to their constituents within the US. The families of veterans, first responders, and chemically dependent individuals are going to require a more compassionate approach to the formation of new policies that simultaneously keep people safe, but allow them access to the technological innovation that these psychedelic-assisted treatments represent. What we saw happen with medical marijuana and then recreational use of cannabis for the benefit of responsible adults seems to be imminent for psychedelic-assisted therapies as well.