Ibogaine: To Have or Have Not


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  • Presentation 5th National Conference on Harm Reduction, New Orleans, LA, November 13, 2004,Ibogaine Roundtable, Astor Crown Plaza
  • Ibogaine is found in the roots of the West African Plant Tabernanthe iboga
  • Tabernanthe iboga being cultivated in Gabon.
  • Bottles of purified Ibogaine hydrochloride used to treat chemical dependence.
  • Ibogaine’s antiaddictive effects were discovered by drug users in the 1960s and promoted and developed by drug users and former drug users from the 1980s through this date.
  • These are questions that address humanities needs not only those of dependent drug users.
  • The medical community except under the rarest circumstances does not involve itself with the use of experimental medications. The pharmaceutical industry has chosen not to develop new drugs to treat chemical dependence due to lack of profitability, stigma attached to the patient population and greater liability attached to that population as the death rate in that population is three to seven times that of the general population. Government has chosen to develop opioid drugs rather than the newer iboga alkaloid medications as their experts are opioid medicinal chemicals and pharmacologists.
  • With a mortality rate three to seven times that of the general population it is natural for drug users to choose actions that will support their lives and welfare.
  • Both the underground railroad and needle exchange faced similar ethical decisions pitting freedom and the right to life against issues of law.
  • The underground railroad helped and trained slaves to escape to free states.
  • The law was on the side of slavers and offered no protection to those slaves seeking freedom just as now there is no protection for drug users seeking to free themselves from chemical dependence with Ibogaine.
  • A dangerous profession. Pursued by slavers and police.
  • Clandestine operations in keeping with historical precedent of such movements.
  • During various periods slaves were moved to Canada, to Mexico and into Florida and beyond.
  • A solution to the spread of AIDS among IVDUs were clean syringes. Needle exchange found itself at the center of a dispute between prohibitionists and those opposed to drug prohibition. Science and medicine found needle exchange an effective means of combating the transmission of AIDS. Federal policy supporting prohibition lags behind.
  • Political action groups formed coalitions to provide Ibogaine therapy and petition governments to make it an approved drug.
  • As a shock tactic and to gain attention the International Coalition for Addict Self-Help chose this graphic prepared by the Amsterdam squatters movement as their logo which was emblazed on mailing envelopes to attract attention.
  • Adriaans was a social activist and researcher for the European Addiction Research Institute at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
  • Organizing in the US assumed YIPPIE tactics of street media and protest. Ibogaine banner seen during the 1991, NYC Gay Pride Parade.
  • Cures-Not-Wars, the YIPPIE derived anti-drug-war and AIDS activist group organized protests at the National Institute on Drug Abuse to pressure NIDA for Ibogaine research.
  • Ibogaine activism continues today on the internet where ibogaine is the subject of an international list with over 5,000 members of the ibogaine/Iboga community.
  • While this presentation was being developed (July - Nov 2004) the issues that it addressed of the rights of drug users to have access to ibogaine moved from concept and discussion to reality with the emergence of an Ibogaine underground railroad that brought Ibogaine to inner city drug users. Interview posted to drugwar.com August 26, 2004.
  • Empowerment is an attribute common to humanity. Is it certainly ethical to seek empowerment, freedom/choice and medical aid? Laws may be caused to change. The question remains as with slavery and needle exchange shall the law be broken for the common or moral good?
  • Ibogaine: To Have or Have Not

    1. 1. Ibogaine: To Have or Have Not Howard S. Lotsof Dora Weiner Foundation http://www.doraweiner.org
    2. 2. Why would a root derived alkaloid
    3. 3. Found in a West African plant
    4. 4. Or its Chemical equivalent
    5. 5. Lead to a user directed movement to demand a treatment for chemical dependence?
    6. 6. Because it works and is deemed effective by users but, then…
    7. 7. Questions of Empowerment Ethics & Law
    8. 8. Drug User Rights <ul><li>The right to use </li></ul><ul><li>The right not to use </li></ul><ul><li>The right to choose </li></ul>
    9. 9. Failure to respond “Ibogaine Availability” <ul><li>The medical community </li></ul><ul><li>The pharmaceutical industry </li></ul><ul><li>Government </li></ul>
    10. 10. 1. The right to assume control of Ibogaine? 2. The right to provide Ibogaine to others? Does such failure leave drug users
    11. 11. Historical Precedents for Action <ul><li>Underground Railroad </li></ul><ul><li>Needle Exchange </li></ul>
    12. 12. Underground Railroad <ul><li>Direct confrontation to slavery </li></ul><ul><li>An illegal activity </li></ul>
    13. 13. Law Offered No Protection
    14. 14. Some guides or conductors as they were called were well known like Harriat Tubman
    15. 15. Due to the nature of the work most guides remained anonymous X
    16. 16. Railroad Routes to Freedom
    17. 17. Needle Exchange not dissimilar <ul><li>Direct confrontation </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes illegal </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes tacit approval </li></ul><ul><li>Danger of arrest </li></ul>
    18. 18. The Issues
    19. 19. The Solution
    20. 20. Conductors/Guides <ul><li>Jon Parker </li></ul><ul><li>Dave Purchase </li></ul>
    21. 21. Parker risked arrest continuously
    22. 22. Purchase established a national needle exchange network
    23. 23. Ibogaine Precedents <ul><li>International Coalition for Addict Self-Help (ICASH) </li></ul><ul><li>Dutch Addict Self-Help (DASH) </li></ul><ul><li>Cures-Not-Wars </li></ul>
    24. 24. ICASH logo
    25. 25. Nico Adriaans founder Rotterdam Junkies Union
    26. 26. Organizing in the US
    27. 27. Pressure placed on NIDA to support Ibogaine research Cures-Not-Wars action
    28. 28. Mindvox Ibogaine List (user advocacy continues) <ul><li>“ We all got to help each other best we can. No one else gives a shit ‘bout us hippy freak junkies? ” </li></ul><ul><li> anon. </li></ul><ul><li>To join send an email to </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>
    29. 29. “ FM- I'm not really privy to what's happening in that regard here in the US. Suffice to say, nothing has worked which is why we're here. We feel that continuing the focus offshore, outside the US, has not served a majority of people inside the US. Like many other grassroots movement, which facilitated change, treatments, sessions, need to be done where they belong, in all major US cities, as cost effectively as possible. “ http://www.drugwar.com/ibonyc.shtm Ibogaine underground railroad appears
    30. 30. Ibogaine Routes to Freedom
    31. 31. Returning us to: Questions of Empowerment Ethics & Law