Citation: tobala. "Welcome Back to My Life: An Experience with Ibogaine (exp68933)". Erowid.org. Jun 3, 2018. erowid.org/exp/68933
||(powder / crystals)
| T+ 1:00
||(powder / crystals)
Myself: male, 80 kg
I've been addicted to cocaine for almost 24 years; it's been essentially a low-level habit of one half gram of cocaine powder per day, insufflated--never smoked, injected, or taken per os. Hx of other drug use includes cannabis, LSD, MDA, MDMA, PCP, 2C-B, methamphetamine, amphetamine, psilocin-containing mushrooms, heroin, and hydro/oxycodone, however none of these other drugs were ever used habitually except for cannabis when I was younger.
The habit began concurrently with the start of my career as an audio engineer/mixer. The drug, due to its rapid onset and short duration, was perfect for those late nights and times when jobs would go for two or three days straight in order to meet deadlines, etc.
Of course, due to the pleasurable effects, the drug was used not only on the job, but around the clock in small doses throughout the day. After a few years, it became impossible to become motivated and accomplish anything without it. This wasn't too much of a problem--there was always a source in my city and coming up with $20-$30/day wasn't too difficult.
The real problems began about two or three years ago. I found it increasingly difficult to become motivated even with the drug, and the $1,000/month the habit was costing me became an increasing drain on the financial resources of my family. My wife eventually had had enough and showed me the door.
I found myself on the street with my financially erratic career, an associates degree in nursing, and no motivation to study for my boards to obtain the license in my state. I've spent the last 12 months drifting aimlessly from friend's house to friend's house. They have never wanted to throw me out, but after a few months I've felt like a freeloader and so gave them my thanks and said goodbye. However, the time hasn't been a complete waste, as it's given me the opportunity to ponder what the real sources of my problems are. At the same time, it's been a gut-wrenching time away from my 8-year-old son, who I love dearly.
The realization that I'd chosen a feel-good drug over this fantastic little boy had resulted in a lot of self-loathing, but the knowledge that I had the power to correct the situation allowed me to put it in the right perspective. My wife may never forgive me because, first and foremost, she hates herself--but hopefully my son will one day be mature enough to understand that in the end, I chose him over everything else on the face of this Earth.
After months of prowling the online underground, in November of 2007 I was fortunate enough to obtain 730mg of ibogaine hydrochloride. It is a very fine, bulky, electrostatic, and off-white powder with a faint and pleasant odor of burnt wood. Common color-test reagents gave the following results:
Marquis - orange/brown
Mandelin - no reaction
Mecke - dark blue/purple
The ibogaine was initially obtained merely to add it to my collection of 25 or so other exotic chemicals/conversation pieces, most of which had yet to be sampled because I still hadn't concluded my experiments with Bolivian Prozac. However, after the aforementioned soul-searching, I realized that I was in possession of a sacrament/gift that could literally wrest my soul from the grips of the cocaine beastie and give me my life back.
Logistically, I considered that the sanest way to take the ibogaine would be in the company of a good friend who would provide a safe, secure environment and be ready to bring in the right medical help should the unexpected happen. The plan was to ingest 1/10 of the ibogaine as a test dose followed by the rest an hour later if there were no complications. After consulting with his fiancé (C.), Ground Control (hereafter known as G.C.) made arrangements for her and their 7-year-old son (D.) to spend Friday night at a local hotel. On Thursday night, I ceased all solid food and caffeine, and did my last hit of cocaine. I spent Friday afternoon packing a light bag, stopped off at the drug store to pick up Dramamine, eyeshades, and earplugs, and at about 3:00 PM I began the three-hour drive from NYC to Massachusetts.
Let me stop here to mention what I felt to be rather odd circumstances preceding my trip to MA. Usually I go through a lot of shit in the business of music to get paid by clients. On top of that, NYC is a rat race within a pressure-cooker: everything from parking to waiting on a checkout line at the supermarket has the potential to transform from everyday event to precarious situation.
Now I'm not a believer in pink and purple faeries--but if they do exist, and if they do have the power to pull the influential strings that dictate the ease through which we mere mortals pass in our quest to accomplish the mundane, then they were pulling in my favor that Friday and for that they have my eternal gratitude: I had one client pay me a nice chunk of what he owed me in cash that day, the traffic out of NYC was light, and in addition, it was a spectacular day and the late-afternoon sun cast a deep orange hue over the Connecticut hills as I made my way from New York to what would be either salvation or a night of horror.
PART 1 - Meeting Iboga
Due to traffic conditions along the way, I got to G.C.'s a little behind schedule--but heyyyyy--even magick faeries have to sleep. About a half hour before I arrived I had popped 100 mg of dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) in anticipation of any potential nausea (T-1:30). It was a beautiful winter night, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the family still had their Christmas lights and decorations set up. When I got inside, C. had D. bundled up and ready to go. On their way out, C. gave me a hug and kiss and told me, 'Good luck! I'm sure everything will be just fine.'
Easy for her to say, I thought.
Of course, she was just sending her good vibes my way, and smiling at my cynicism, I thanked her and watched them head out the door. Turning to G.C. I said, 'Let's get to it.' I popped open the 73 mg test dose, dissolved it in a few mL of orange Gatorade, and threw it back. It was 7:08 PM (T-0:57).
It was the first time I had been to G.C.'s new house, and he spent the next 30 minutes or so showing me around. By the end of the tour, the test dose had begun to manifest as a vague feeling of lightheadedness, not unlike the effects of a glass of wine. By 8:00 PM (T-0:05), with no signs of pulse or respiration rates outside the normal ranges, it was time to make a decision.
Now I would like to think of myself as an intrepid psychedelic explorer, a macho-renaissance psychonaut type, a cool dude using a personal-growth type of experience to add to the collective body of rare psychedelic experiences. But the fact of the matter was, for the whole week prior, up to and including that Friday night, I was nothing but a chicken-shit cokehead who--to say the least--was quite scared and unsure whether he was actually going to go through what might be a significant step toward rehabilitation. After all, during my rather extensive online research, the reports weren't all that appealing: ataxia, nausea, terrifying body loads, insomnia for weeks after the experience. To be fair, the reports almost invariably indicated that the subjects were in the end grateful for having had their encounter with Iboga, but this seemed for the most part to have come at a significant price. Perhaps the most frightening report was one added to a popular forum (not BL) about two days before my trip: it described an encounter undertaken for introspective purposes, and described ibogaine as a 'dark psychedelic' and the regret the subject had for having had the experience. To be honest, I wish I hadn't read that one.
So it was with a bit of astonishment that I found myself tapping the remaining 657 mg of ibogaine from the brown vial (complete with the Sacrament of Transition 'spaceman' label I had stuck on there--'cause it looked slick) into a glass, mixing it with a little Gatorade, and down the hatch it went. Before this, I would have put the odds of actually eating the Iboga and not wasting my and everyone else's time that weekend at about 30-40%. But thankfully I didn't give myself--chicken-shit that I was--the opportunity to back out. It was 8:05 PM (T=0:00).
What the fuck have I done?
It has been written elsewhere that ibogaine is a very bitter substance. Of course it is, sillies. It's an alkaloid, it's supposed to be bitter. But it's not that horrendous.
What was horrendous was the fear I began to experience at that point. I made my way up to the upstairs bedroom. I was cold. I got under the covers and began to shake like a leaf. The mental agreements I had previously made--accepting the very slim possibility of dying--went out the window and into the cold winter night. G.C. had come upstairs with me, and he now pressed a couple of photos of my son into my hand and reminded me of why I was there doing what I was doing. He told me to control my breathing, to take deep and even breaths, and that seemed to help with the shakes a little.
I couldn't get comfortable. No longer happy with the upstairs bedroom, at about 8:30 PM (T+0:25) I headed down the stairs to who-knows-where. I found myself in the living room in a leather chair with the Christmas lights and a basketball game on TV. By this time, I was experiencing a degree of photophobia. I began dry-belching and tasted ibogaine, though there was never a time when I felt any strong possibility of vomiting. The lights and sound from the TV began to press into me in a most disagreeable way and I knew I had to get out of there. I tried to get up the stairs again and back to the bedroom.
At this point, the ataxia began to kick in. G.C. watched me, rubber-legged, bump into a few walls and almost fall down the stairs before he caught me--thankfully Iboga had not suppressed my sense of humor and we ended up having a good laugh over it. After a few minutes, the bedroom once again just didn't seem like the right place to be, so G.C. helped me back down the stairs and into the den adjoining the living room.
PART 2 - Oneirophrenic Phase
Let me state here that ibogaine is a psychedelic of the first order. It is every bit as powerful as LSD while imparting its own unique character. As I lay on the den couch, the drug began to come on very strongly. By 9:00 PM (T+0:55) it was quite clear that Bwiti was no joke and this was going to be an intense experience.
From my vantage point in the den I could see the Christmas lights shining on the living room ceiling. At a certain point, the ceiling became a picture screen of sorts, even rotating forward and becoming horizontal just like at a movie theater. Simultaneously, I began to hear new sounds, audio hallucinations, blend in with the sounds from the TV. These new sounds were of people talking in the distance, chanting, and other human noises I can best describe as sounding like Tuvan throat singers: droning, eerie, musical, and fascinating.
The experience progressed from the come-up and became truly hallucinogenic. Thoughts of my dying were suddenly pushed to the background and replaced by fascination with this new visual spectacle. Black dots began dancing on the living room ceiling. The walls became electrified and started to melt--very LSD-like. I began twirling my cell phone--the trails were some of the most intense I've ever seen. When G.C. offered me some water, I was amazed at how his face looked. He's a mean-lookin' Irish brute to begin with; on ibogaine his mug looked meanly skeletal and had black bugs crawling all over it.
The somatic sensations elucidated in other ibogaine reports are quite accurate. Firstly, descriptions of these feelings as static electricity coursing through the limbs and extremities are quite apt; I would like to comment further in describing these sensations. If you picture static on a TV set, it has a coarseness and texture to the 'static particles.' The coarseness describes the size of each particle, whereas the texture describes the degree of roundness or jaggedness of each particle. I felt the electricity as being rather coarse, however the roundness of the sensations made the whole effect not unpleasant. This was reassuring--one of the most disconcerting preconceptions I had of the ibogaine experience was of these electric sensations--and was happy to discover that they felt rather good!
The visions became more complex: faces, neon blue masks, at one point a spaceship (a popular ibogaine theme, it seems) briefly appeared, its occupants staring out at me from within through clear crystal windows. Who they were or where they came from remains a mystery. A recurring vision was that of the dancing black dots merging together like a swarm of insects in the distance and then flying toward me in unison. Flowing past and through me, the symbolic interpretation I've made of this--since it happened the most often--was that Iboga was blowing the addiction out of me.
Throughout the visionary phase, I felt a vague fear, but in retrospect this was just a normal part of any intense psychedelic experience. Peering at my 'picture screen,' I got the sense I was being shown the ineffable: beyond the screen lay the infinite collective consciousness--each of us will one day merge our mortal individual identities with its immortal being.
Another fascinating aspect was the friendly and organic feeling I got from Iboga. Powerful? Yes. Scary? At times. But the organic and comforting elements of the trip were things I had not expected, and it was quite gratifying to realize that, in light of the anxiety I had been feeling all week leading up to the experience, there had really been nothing to fear all along.
At some point my mind must have blanked out. I hesitate to say that I fell asleep; Iboga seemed too stimulating--albeit in the most gentle way--for that to happen. In any event, when I came to and looked at the clock--it read a little past 1:00 AM (T+5:00). After almost exactly four hours, Iboga had dropped me into the next phase.
PART 3 - Introspective Phase
My feelings at this point were an odd combination of relief and disappointment. Relieved that I was both alive and that Iboga had not taken me anywhere I was not prepared to go; disappointed that I had not gotten the opportunity to recall and/or relive past events that might have provided insight into the reasons I found it necessary to self-medicate for so many years.
Of course, that the hoped-for memory recapitulations did not occur can possibly be ascribed to under-dosing. While I had ordered a gram, only ¾ arrived--an issue not likely to be resolved by the Better Business Bureau (at least in the USA). In that light, it was best to concentrate on what did happen rather than what didn't. And this I did for approximately the next four hours. I could still feel the ibogaine working, possibly resetting brain chemistry--in any event, I felt great.
For the next few hours I just lay there, happy that I had made it through, and running the events of those four hours through my mind. There were no drug cravings at all, and the memory of the insect swarm literally flying through me kept making me laugh to myself. I also contemplated a life without addictive drugs and began to think for the first time in years that it might be possible. It was in this mood that I once again passed out at about 5:00 AM (T+9:00).
PART 4 - Slow Comedown
I awoke about fours hours (it's odd that ibogaine seemed to break events into periods of this time frame) later at 9:00 AM (T+13:00) and immediately noticed residual trails in my peripheral vision. I had to urinate really badly, and on the way to the bathroom I was happy to notice that the ataxia had mostly abated--the legs were still a little wobbly but at least now they seemed to be grudgingly following orders.
My caretaker was up and about, grumbling things about hangovers (G.C. now taken to mean 'Guinness Cowboy') and breakfast. Surprisingly, I felt hungry, but when G.C. handed me a plate of bacon, toast, and a fried egg, a feeling of anorexia passed over me. An hour later I was hungry again and a light breakfast went down just fine. Feeling a little tired, I went upstairs and took a three-hour nap.
When I woke up again, I spent the day in a state I had not felt since I was a child. I didn't need a stimulant to get satisfaction out of life. Reading the paper, watching a football game on TV--these were fun things in their own right, unadorned by chemical enhancement. I thought about what doing a blow at any particular moment would be like, and it just didn't seem all that appealing. I still felt the ibogaine working inside me, but now at 3:00 PM (T+19:00) it was starting to fade away. I became ravenously hungry and G.C. put in a delivery order to a fine Chinese restaurant (sorry, no Gabonese cuisine in this town). It was dropped off by a really pretty Chinese girl (thanks again, Iboga!) and I must have eaten enough for three people.
After dinner, a light snow had begun to fall and I took a little walk in the cold, clean country air. It felt wonderful. By 8:00 PM (T+24:00) the effects had all but disappeared and a couple hours later I lay down and went to sleep.
I slept for a solid nine hours and the following day was spent drinking tea/coffee, reading the Sunday paper, and talking with my good friends G.C. and C. While the effects of the Iboga had gone, the residual contentment had not. My mind continually went back to the events of Friday evening, marveling at the strangeness of it all. I also realized I wanted to repeat the experience at a higher dose, a rather uncommon sentiment.
In the afternoon, I made plans to visit another friend, A., who lives in Connecticut between G.C.'s house and NYC. I got there around 6:00 PM (T+46:00) and he and his lovely wife made me a wonderful dinner. I spent a few hours with them and their two daughters and at about 9:00 PM (T+49:00) I began the drive back to New York.
I got back home Sunday night a little before midnight. I felt a little sleepy and was grateful that Iboga was not exerting its insomniac powers over me. I had been concerned about that aspect of ibogaine's effect profile since I really didn't know what I would have done with myself had it decided to keep me up at night for the next few weeks.
I've been back in NYC for six days since the ibogaine experience. At times, it has been a rude but not entirely unexpected awakening. For example, I woke up Monday morning at 11:00 AM and could not find the motivation to get out of the house until 4:00 PM. Tuesday was a bit better. Wednesday I had some cravings and on Thursday I went to the Vitamin Shoppe and bought a bottle of L-tyrosine. This will supposedly help rebalance my brain's neurochemistry, which I've undoubtedly been knocking out of whack for years.
Another consideration is I've found from experience that my body metabolizes drugs very quickly--I'm usually down before everyone else. This probably explains why the cravings have returned so quickly for me: the noribogaine metabolite has simply washed out faster than normal. When my next batch arrives, I am contemplating the insufflation of 25-50 mg ibogaine boosters when cravings get bad in an attempt to fill the receptors and see if these cravings are reduced. I'm also looking forward to my next full-on encounter with Iboga this summer, and if all goes well it might become a twice-a-year thing just to keep the receptor reset hard-wired. I'm also planning a trip to Gabon as a purely spiritual venture, to visit the Bwiti and the country's national parks.
In any event, it's been eight days clean, and while there's no guarantee of success, I hope for the best (and this time not expect the worst--dammit) and am looking forward to getting my nursing license and eventually return to school for a nurse practitioner program--maybe eventually get into addiction therapy work so I can help out other people who are in the same leaky boat I've been sailing and sinking on.
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