The search for natural solutions (or natural treatment options) for drug and alcohol abuse is an important mission. It is a necessary one, too, as patients entrust their care to individuals who have very different approaches to treatment.

The following Q&A with Arnold Hesnod, Intake and Aftercare Coordinator for Clear Sky Recovery, is a primer about specific forms of treatment, namely, ibogaine, and the many variables that influence care –– for good or ill.

As Hesnold explains, clarity and compassion should be a priority for patients and caregivers alike.

  1. How does ibogaine work?

Ibogaine is a very effective natural treatment because it eliminates withdrawal symptoms, while also blocking the craving and desire to use opiates afterwards.  If a patient has an opiate dependency, we use morphine up to or until the ibogaine treatment works, thus ensuring a pain-free detoxification.

Ibogaine has an established record of success, proving to be 80% effective for treatment, in comparison to about 12% for traditional forms of drug rehab.  Ibogaine works by resetting the receptors in the brain, making it as though a patient has never taken opiates.  It also resets brain chemistry, allowing the brain to function as a sober person’s brain does, instead of how an addict’s operates.  Ibogaine eliminates the compulsion and the never-ending drive and desire to use drugs after treatment.  Mentally and physically, a patient will feel as if he or she has been sober for 12 months.

Ibogaine’s long-acting metabolite, noribogaine, remains in the body for a period of several weeks following ibogaine administration. Noribogaine serves as a powerful anti-depressant, alleviating PAWS (Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome), thereby helping to replenish destroyed or desensitized dopamine neurons.

  1. While the emphasis on natural solutions is, of course, important, what other variables influence patient outcomes?

The question is rhetorical, to a degree, because there must be an understanding of the difficulties patients face. Substance abuse and addiction are complex problems, and ibogaine is a new and highly effective treatment.

A patient, or the friend or loved one of a prospective patient, should not hesitate to ask as many questions as he or she wants. All of those questions should be answered with patience (for the sake of patients), understanding, compassion and credibility.

  1. What kind of medical supervision should be in place to ensure safety and effective treatment?

That question is one every prospective patient should ask and/or every legitimate treatment center should answer without any hesitation. For example: I have the privilege of knowing our medical director, Dr. Alberto Solà, who is a practicing specialist in emergency medicine. He has also been trained by Dr. Deborah Mash, the world’s foremost scientific expert on ibogaine treatment, and leads our medical program along with Dr. Felipe Malacara and a group of registered nurses, who have been continually administering ibogaine for over a decade.

To date, we have had over 2,300 successful treatments.

So, yes, ask a center about the medical personnel who supervise treatment. More to the point, ask if there any doctors at that facility; because a natural solution does not mean it is a do-as-you-please solution: There must be a doctor who is fluent in the history and use of any treatment.

  1. What constitutes “comprehensive care,” when treating a patient?

 Put aside, for a moment, the obligatory subject of service. That is, patients should ask and expect (more the latter than the former, since there should be no need to ask) that is a transfer from the airport to the clinic. That alone is a sign of respect: Do not leave someone who is already weak or vulnerable to fend for him- or herself.

Secondly, a natural solution does not exist in a vacuum; which is to say comprehensive care should include healthy and personalized meals, high-quality accommodations, daily supplements, laboratory tests, therapy sessions, a cardiology evaluation and medications prescribed (as needed) by an in-house doctor, among many other things.

The mind-body connection is critical to complementing any natural solution. Hence the inclusion of the following: Daily breathing exercises, daily meditation, daily massage and daily gentle yoga.

  1. What is the difference between a natural catalyst for change and a solution?

 To start, a weeklong treatment should effectively – and completely – detoxify a patient, significantly alleviating symptoms of PAWS. A patient’s physical addiction should be eradicated by the time that person leaves the facility.

However, ibogaine is a catalyst, not a cure. Ibogaine provides a window of opportunity for individuals who may have met with failure while attempting to avail themselves of more mainstream and conventional detoxification methodologies.

We see roughly a 70% long-term success rate. That being said, what a patient does after he or she leaves a treatment facility has a lot to do with the outcome. Appropriate aftercare is, therefore, absolutely essential to long-term success.

  1. What is a realistic plan for maintaining health and wellness after receiving treatment?

 Again, there should be an emphasis on compassionate care, which means there must a comprehensive, end-to-end treatment experience.

That protocol includes pre-care, ibogaine treatment and aftercare, to ensure the best possible outcome with ibogaine treatment.

Comfort, safety and effectiveness must be paramount, too.

And finally, Dr. Marsh offers an excellent explanation about ibogaine, which viewers can watch here.

The combination of natural treatments and compassionate care, an approach based on science and medical safety, is one that should guide how centers operate and the standards they uphold –– for the good of all.

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