What does a cure for addiction look like? It could be a pill which resets brain tolerance levels and alleviates all symptoms of withdrawal; those individuals would still be at high risk of relapse if their long-term drug abuse caused damage to neurological pathways, a cure would have to repair any brain damage caused by addiction as well. Tolerance and withdrawal aren’t factors though when a person first becomes a drug abuser so a cure has to also address the initial cause of any addiction. The more we imagine what a cure looks like the less it seems it would fit into a pill. Here I will briefly examine the two most promising treatment drugs which when aligned with one other and modern treatment methods truly could define a cure. Sociologically, the villain is not drugs or addiction but the ability for members of a government to pass laws based on lies, ignorance, and manipulations so as to create dominion over a bush.
I know what side of history I’m on when it comes to the war on drugs. Most people don’t realize it but methamphetamine (more recently krokodil and flakka) these drug outliers, absolute chemical monsters are the creation of prohibition laws. They have all been cooked up in laboratories to solve consumer demands for recreational drugs. The most important demand that they solve is supply, they are all illegal combinations of legal products. With their invention just about anyone can become a supplier if they wish to. If there was no drug war the exact same thing would be going on however there would be less motivation (less reward) in sacrificing consumer safety in order to create profit. Consumers would still want new exciting recreational drugs but those drugs should be as safe as modern science can make them. Furthermore, without a circumspect understanding of new drugs it’s impossible to devise effective treatment methods.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to tell the difference.”
Wisdom to tell the difference, that is what I hope a cure for drug addiction instills in our world. The drug war has sapped us of that wisdom for a century.
As far back as the 1950's Ibogaine was used as an adjunct to psychotherapy. In 1962 Ibogaine was commonly advertised for its anti-addictive properties by Howard Lotsof. Ibogaine was banned in the U.S. In 1967 as a schedule 1 drug making it very difficult for research to take place. Howard opened an Ibogaine clinic in the Netherlands in the 1960's. They were approved for research of Ibogaine on humans by the FDA but failed to secure the funding. Pharmaceutical companies don’t see developing the drug as being in their own interest. The perspective of Big Pharma could be in part due to a Brazilian study which sought to separate the medicinal usefulness of the plant from its hallucinogenic parts. The study was successful and proved that the hallucinogenic elements were not a part of the neuro-physiological reset experienced by drug users. However, it was extremely costly and time consuming to produce small amounts of the substance without the hallucinogenic elements. In the past decade Ibogaine treatment and wellness centers have popped up all over the world as an option for dealing with the most severe drug addictions. Ibogaine has been made legal to possess in many countries which previously held it as a schedule 1 alongside the U.S. It’s virtually impossible for addiction researchers and addiction treatment organizations within the United States to use Ibogaine in a clinical setting because of its schedule 1 status.
Ibudilast is a more recently discovered miracle cure for drug abused brains. What makes Ibudilast so groundbreaking is that it’s the first treatment for methamphetamine. It has been hailed as a cure for meth addiction, the study showed it reverses the decrease effect of a signaling protein from long-term methamphetamine use. Ibudilast is considered in the United States to be the first non-opiate treatment for heroine addiction (not including Ibogaine). Ibudilast has a strange origin as it has primarily been used as an asthma medication in Japan. The second phase in a UCLA study on humans with FDA backing is underway.
Even in countries with the most progressive public policies on drugs such as Portugal (decriminalized all drugs) the use of methadone clinics are still the main source of treatment for opiate addiction. A Canadian study was done on 251 addicts in Montreal and Vancouver where some were administered oral methadone treatment for heroine addiction and others were treated with diacetylmorphine, the main ingredient in heroine. The results demonstrated that controlled injections of medical grade heroine led to higher rates of recovery than orally administered methadone. Group programs like AA are effective but contain archaic elements such as having drug users declare powerlessness over their addiction, this is simply not true anymore. Furthermore, many have spiritual elements which may or may not be beneficial to a client.
Ibogaine completely resets brain tolerance levels and the powerful hallucinations have been reported to have positive psycho-therapeutic benefits. Ibudilast has been shown to repair damage to the brain caused by long-term drug use. It has also been shown that Ibogaine’s medicinal value does not at all hinge on its hallucinatory side-effects. Although it may be early to say, it’s not hard to imagine how these drugs in combination and alongside psycho-therapeutic exercises could in fact offer a well-rounded cure for every stage of addiction.