Ibogaine may be famous for its ability to remove withdrawals from opioids and other drugs, but staying clean requires more than just a detox. Anyone who has successfully recovered from addiction using ibogaine will tell you that the process is not about drugs per se. Rather, it is a rite of passage; it is a quest to discover one’s true identity and move onto a higher level of consciousness where the need to self-medicate does not exist.
To be able to undergo such a transformation, however, it is first necessary to learn how one has become disconnected from their true self in the first place, and how this has left them with an inability to find meaning, value and purpose in life.
Most people learn at a young age which aspects of their personality are unacceptable to others. When our care-givers disapprove of our neediness, anger, capability limits or any so-called ‘weaknesses’, our survival instinct kicks in and we automatically begin to suppress these traits. We do not feel safe to fully express ourselves, and our vulnerability compels us to commit our first act of self-hate by refusing to love ourselves fully.
This then sets the tone for the mental chatter that continually narrates our reality to us for the rest of our lives. It tells us who we are, how we fit into the world around us, and the meaning of each event that occurs in our environment. For those who have learnt not to love themselves, this voice is always highly critical, afraid and negative, creating a need to escape the experience of being oneself – often through drug use.
The whole problem is therefore rooted in the fact that we have a completely false image of who we are; as a result of early conditioning, we learned to see ourselves as somehow flawed and not worthy of love until certain aspects of our self have been purged. Yet the truth is that it is not possible to eliminate any part of oneself, no matter how much we suppress it. Continually attempting to do so only increases the sense of inadequacy, failure, misery and shame. Nor is it necessary to try and do so. Instead, learning to accept and love all aspects of oneself is the key to true happiness.
This is what ibogaine is all about. It is a tool to reconnect to the parts of our selves that have been locked away in the basement for too long, allow our falsely negative self-image to dissolve, and reconnect to our true identity.
Yet it is worth noting that this does not occur automatically. Every indigenous culture that uses visionary plants for healing understands that certain tasks must be accomplished by those seeking healing, and education is provided so that community members can acquire the skills to undergo a true rite of passage. In the West, this education is lacking, and many people fail to bring about the transformation they are hoping for with ibogaine. We work with our clients to help them understand exactly what they have to do in order to complete their quest, move onto that higher level of consciousness and release themselves from the unconscious pain that compels them to self-medicate.