Ibogaine Retreats: What You Need to Know
Not all retreats are created equal. Sometimes, psilocybin is on the menu, and the experience can be very pleasant. But other times, pleasant just doesn’t get the job done. Particularly for people wrestling with serious addiction issues, ibogaine is known as an exceptionally effective ‘weapon of last resort.’ The experience may be challenging but the science is quite strong and compelling. For those who feel they have exhausted their options, an ibogaine retreat may be just what the medicine man ordered. So we’ve collected alot of information about ibogaine retreats: what you need to know!
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What is an Ibogaine Retreat?
Ibogaine is the active chemical component of iboga, which is the root of a West African shrub. It has been used by indigenous communities in West Africa for its psychedelic and healing properties for hundreds of years. Ibogaine can be extracted from the iboga root and taken on its own.
Retreat participants may consume either pure ibogaine that has been extracted, or the whole iboga root itself; each retreat center has its own preference.
Typically (although not always), the purpose of a modern-day iboga or ibogaine retreat is to overcome substance abuse problems. Participants are usually people who have already tried many different modalities for overcoming their addictions, without success. Some people participate because they want to heal from trauma, depression, anxiety, or PTSD. And still others find ibogaine because they simply feel stuck and want to gain vitality and seek truth.
Attending an ibogaine retreat means taking time outside of the challenges of everyday life and focusing exclusively on healing. To that end, meals are cooked by chefs, facilities are comfortable with beautiful surroundings, and the environment is conducive to rest and reflection.
Efficacy of Ibogaine Retreats for Addiction
Most substance abuse rehabilitation programs have startlingly low success rates and high relapse rates. Ibogaine retreats boast greater efficacy. A study in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse found that 50% of oxycodone and heroin users treated with Ibogaine had not used opioids at all one month post-treatment. Similarly, researchers who published their findings in the journal Current Drug Abuse Reviews found ibogaine to be useful in lessening drug dependency. Preclinical research has also supported the multitude of anecdotal claims that ibogaine lessens withdrawal symptoms. Research is ongoing, but so far, ibogaine is providing hope for addicts who feel they have already tried everything else.
How are Ibogaine Retreats Different than Other Psychedelic Retreats?
An ibogaine retreat is usually part addiction detox center and part psychedelic retreat. The experience of taking ibogaine is intense and frequently exhausting for the patient. It also carries a non-zero risk of death or long-term impairment.
Another major difference is the length of retreats. Ayahuasca and psilocybin retreats, for example, usually only require a few days of time out from one’s routine. Ibogaine retreats, however, typically involve a longer program. The intensity of the experience, the need for multiple sessions, and the length of a proper integration program means that participants should stay for up to one month, although some centers offer shorter programs. Because of the risk of relapse, it is absolutely crucial for addicts not to rush through an ibogaine retreat by re-entering normal life too soon.
Intake for an ibogaine retreat is also significantly more stringent than with most other psychedelic retreats. It includes thorough medical and psychological screening, detoxification, and coordination with existing healthcare providers. Clearing the body of the source of the addiction requires several weeks of going cold turkey before arriving, which can be extremely challenging. Once at the retreat, therapy sessions can be quite intensive. Staff are much more likely to carry medical degrees and modern Western credentials, and modern monitoring equipment should be present.
The felt experience of iboga or ibogaine’s effects is also different than that of other plant medicines. It does not make the user feel ‘high’ and you’ll remain grounded in your environment instead of losing contact with your surroundings. As the medicine takes effect, ideas, insights, thoughts, and images that convey messages and insights will come into your awareness, facilitating deep healing.
Although ibogaine retreats are quite different than other psychedelic retreats, they’re profoundly impactful and truly life-altering for suitable participants.
Ibogaine Retreats: Some Options
Here are three ibogaine retreat centers we recommend looking into if you think ibogaine might be the right choice for you.
Located in Cancun, Bwiti Life offers seven-day retreats that include two ceremonies, four one-hour integration calls post-retreat, and access to mental health counselors, yoga, meditation, a temazcal, and a gym onsite. Their ceremonies are guided by a 10th generation Bwiti shaman, who has skillfully adapted the program for use in non-indigenous contexts.
One of the reasons we like Bwiti life is because their health and safety guidelines are very stringent. They work hard to ensure that participants are safe throughout their experience. Before approval, each participant must undergo a thorough health assignment to make sure that it will be safe for them to consume ibogaine. Prospective participants who pass the initial screening must then get an EKG. People dealing with addiction also require a liver panel test, as a healthy liver is essential in working with ibogaine. Once onsite, there’s a nurse present to assess vital signs as needed before, during, and after the ceremonies.
Ikara Iboga Center
A breathtaking option in southern Costa Rica, this center is lush and luxurious. The views are majestic. The center takes the heritage of Iboga very seriously, and is part of an NGO that diverts some of its profits back to the indigenous peoples of Gabon. To put a stamp on it, their healer may be the only Westerner to be initiated by the Babongo people and trained in the Miobe branch of the Bwiti school.
Awaken Your Soul
This center emphasizes the spiritual aspect of ibogaine consumption. It’s ideal for anyone seeking to dive deep into the root causes of their suffering. Although their ceremonies are more traditional in nature, they still prioritize safety. They also have an average review score of 4.9 on Google, along with glowing testimonials from a multitude of past participants.
If you do decide to take the leap, we hope your iboga or ibogaine journey will be as fulfilling and paradigm-shifting as it has been for countless others. For more information about Ibogaine and the Treatment Centers that offer it, please consult our Ultimate Ibogaine Treatment Center Guide!