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Kicking Drugs with Drugs-
Taking the Left Hand Path

By Preston Peet

For DrugWar.com
Posted August 12, 2004


Ibogaine

"Hey dude, that phone call I've been wanting to make for two years is finally being made, right here, right now," drawled the voice in my ear through the slightly bad cell phone connection at the Voice's end.

"What phone call is that?" I asked, knowing pretty much exactly what phone call it was and why he was so excited to be making it.

"Watch for communications soon from another friend of ours," the Voice said, almost giggling with glee. "He's gonna have a number for you to call, to get in touch with some folk doing underground, guerilla ibogaine treatments in NYC, this coming August."

Immediately I'm feeling all sorts of conflicting emotions. Because here it is, no more talking about wanting to do it, or wondering on this or that email list what the effects are and if it really, really does work to interrupt or cure or help people get over a wide variety of addictions. If it is here in my own city and I can get it at much cheaper rates than were I to fly to some foreign country where it's either legal or simply not regulated at all yet, how in the hell am I, a seasoned, proud proponent of cognitive liberty and the free taking of powerful mind expanding drugs, a veritable Drug Expert, Author and psychonaut, going to live it down if I chicken out and say, "oh, no thank you"?

See, the main reason, besides simple curiosity, for wanting, needing to try ibogaine, is that I have a major pain problem, for which I'm prescribed 12 Dilaudid 4s and 2 30-mil MS-Contins a day but I'm going through way more than that, having to spend $80 every three weeks to see my pain specialist to refill my prescriptions for years now, steadily increasing the amounts of narcotic opiates I take, spending literally hundreds of dollars every single week on pills, pills, pills, legal heroin in pharmaceutical-grade purities and measurements, knowing exactly what I'm getting and how much of it I'm doing. It's not been a short while that I've been at this point where no matter how many more than prescribed I shovel into myself, I cannot get rid of the pain, nor am I even getting high anymore.

The communication I'm waiting for arrives with a 411 for me that puts me in touch with this certain guy, Fred I call him though that isn't his real name so far as I know. We arrange to meet at the Alt cybercafe on Ave A. at 1PM the next day, to discuss what I want to do and what I want from taking ibogaine. I wind up waiting about an hour and a half and he doesn't show up. "Great, this totally figures," I think. I enjoy the afternoon sun but it still sucks he's standing me up. After all this mental torment, the "should I, shouldn't I," the guy isn't even going to meet with me.

Turns out though that he's been trying to call me all day but my phone's ringer has been turned off and the machine is full up with spam and other unnecessary calls, so he can't let me know that he'd been waylaid with an emergency, and to not wait up for him at the Alt.

So we do it again, making another date for the next day. I figure I do really want to experience this African root Ibogaine, which works wonders from all I've heard. People with 110 milligram habits on methadone who take it and three days later are totally, completely free of their liquid handcuffs, in just 3 days, not a sign of withdrawals, the ibogaine going so far as to in many cases kill cravings for opiates, cocaine, amphetamines, and other drugs too, even tobacco in some cases-at least temporarily. There are of course a large number of reported cases where people have gotten clean using ibogaine yet returned to using, sometimes right away, sometimes at length down the road. Still, if there is a chance at all that it works, and I can as mentioned do it safely in my own home for not a lot of money, I am game.

We finally meet up, take our coffees and stroll into Tomkins Square Park to have a seat at the chess tables back behind the bathrooms, where I years before used to play chess with old guys while shooting speedballs under the table during the game. We chat, learning about each other, sounding each other out, me asking questions and he answering, and generally enjoy the amazingly warm and dry afternoon, feeling the very good vibes radiating from Fred. He figures out how much I'm going to need and the cost, and we set a session date for the first Sunday of August, 2004.

That is still 3 weeks or so away, a little more perhaps. The very next day, I go for a walk with V, my other half, who will be sitting for my session, walking around south of Houston near our apartment, when a sudden drenching deluge forces us under cover. We grab a table at Teeny's, Moby's vegan café on Rivington. We sit, order coffee, and who should walk up behind us but Fred, who is having a meal with his family directly behind us at another table. Too weird, and we both of us get skin crawls at the synchronicity but we're happy for the opportunity to introduce V and Fred.

The weeks pass, me doing as many pain killers as I can, both for the pain and because, well, to be very honest about it, I'm feeling like I'm about to bid adieu to an old lover who knows me, and whom I know, more intimately than just about anyone ever. It's a sad, lonely feeling, but being with V definitely helps a lot, though it is difficult to explain these sorts of feelings to the woman I love and have lived with for 8 years. My habit has gotten bigger and bigger, to the point where I'm picking up 270 Dilaudid each visit to the doctor and finishing them within a week to 10 days. Then I suffer through crushed MS-Contins taken orally to make it through to the next appointment. It's gotten to be an endless freakin' cycle that I cannot escape, locking me into having to always be home every 2 to 4 hours to do my next fix and I'm running out of veins again, which sucks big time because I spent years getting those very same veins to come back again. Now how long will it be before they trust me again to come up and show themselves?

Finally the day arrives when I'm to have my intake session, on the last Tuesday of July at 2PM with two of Fred's hip guerilla warriors, when again my phone rings first thing in the morning. This time an acting agent is calling, telling me I have an audition for a huge, very well paying national commercial that morning, one that is shooting all the next week, beginning Monday. I've been planning on taking the ibogaine on Sunday, the day before shooting is scheduled to start, and know I am not going to be able to do any sort of work on any set for days after undergoing an ibogaine treatment, certainly not if I do take the ibogaine when I've been planning. "Shit, this is ridiculous," I think. I don't have enough pain killers to get me through a week on a set if I'm going to not take ibogaine for yet another week, but I cannot afford to turn down what could potentially pay me boo-coo bucks and even medical insurance through SAG (one has to make a certain amount within a year to qualify for medical coverage, and I haven't yet made the magic amount.). I tell the two intake folk when they arrive what's going on, that there's a chance I'm going to have to put off my initiation for another week. They agree that if I can book the gig to certainly go ahead and do so, that I'd be silly not to.

"They Loved you!" says my agent next day when he calls. "They want to see you tonight at 8PM for a call back, to meet with the director. They really loved you."

"Great, now what?" I think. Now I'm really torn inside. On the one hand, I want to do the ibogaine as soon as possible but it isn't looking good. And damn it, a national commercial is banking money time. I would be stupid not to go for it. I go to the call back, and right away it's one of those deals where I really know inside that they aren't going to use me, that they're focusing on someone other than myself but they're going to drag the mess out and then not call me ever to let me know one way or the other leaving me dangling, scattered like so much spittle misting in the wind. So now instead of bumming that I'm not doing the ibogaine, I'm starting to bum out that I'm probably not booking this gig.

I now have to call and make an emergency appointment with my pain specialist, a meeting where I'm going to have to convince him to write me two prescriptions of two weeks worth, 2 weeks earlier than he's supposed to, because otherwise I am not going to have enough to do the week's shooting the job will entail if I'm wrong and do book it. If I don't get the job, I still don't really have enough pain killers to get through even one more week. I'm almost in a panic state, fearing some sort of loss, a strange unsettling feeling, from possibly not wanting to use opiates again, so I want to lay in as much as possible for the upcoming week no matter how things turn out just to have a week of total, stoned outta my gourd and away from my pain and just about any other concern freedom and bliss. Seeing the doc first thing in the morning the next day, I almost can't believe it but he does it without any trouble at all, due to my fairly good track record of keeping on schedule seeing him, even if not exactly on how I take the drugs he prescribes me. He doesn't have to know that.

I don't get the gig, I do get my drugs, and I spend the week nodding off and denying I'm doing any such thing every time V catches me doing so, bumping my head on my keyboard or knocking it on the computer itself, once falling out of my chair forward onto my hands and knees on the floor I'm so incredibly fucked up and off my face. I really am losing all semblance of control, but counting, praying-if one wants to call it that but I don't so I won't-that the ibogaine is going to work, that these people are legit, that nothing bad is going to happen, no disaster will befall me or mine that prevents my session from taking place.

I bang my last Dilaudids Thursday night, leaving myself around 36 MS-Contins, 30s still, to last me until my 2PM August 8th appointment with the guerillas on Sunday afternoon. They confirm our date on Friday, setting me at little at ease about the worry something might stop it from happening. I continue spending all my time either nodding out or trying to get to that stage, until the time finally arrive and they are in my home. The time is here, and I will not go back-although I really am feeling genuine fear, even slight terror at what lies ahead.

On the advice of the sage friend PK, I make sure to eat a couple Dramamine, anti-motion sickness pills right before the guerillas arrive because some side effects from ibogaine include nausea and ataxia-complete loss of motor controls and skills-so I don't want to be unable to walk, lying stuck in my living room bed but having to somehow projectile vomit without making a mess, something that has been a concern for V as she'll have to clean it up for me. They lay out my doses on the counter and explain how everything is going to go, what I'll be taking in each dose and how much of it, what the effects are going to be and why I'm taking the amounts I will be taking. I weigh 140 or so pounds, maybe a little less, so that's about 64 kilos. They first give me "two and a half milligrams per kilogram which is 160 milligrams as a test dose," according to the providers, a fairly small amount to see how I am affected by it, how I handle things to start out, then I lay in bed waiting, listening to O-Rang play softly on the stereo. I wait, and wait, and wait some more, all the while having to pee worse than I can ever remember. I'll get up, go to the toilet, piss for 5 minutes, go back to bed, then have to repeat the process in 10 minutes. This continues right up to the 40 minutes mark, where I'm still not feeling anything. One provider had mentioned, in an off-hand sort of "oh, yeah, I should mention" way that not everyone they've treated here in NYC has reported seeing all the visuals, the "movies" that ibogaine is famous for, so I of course think right away that he's jinxed me and I'm going to miss out, or that the drugs aren't as pure as they're telling me and they know I won't feel them much. Whatever, I spend that first 40 minutes paranoid, thinking, "come on, when's it going to hit me?"

At the 40 to 45 minute mark, they handed me a capsule containing "896 milligrams of ibogaine, not even quite a gram, which equates to 14 more milligrams per kilogram per body weight for a total of 16 and a half." I get up once again to pee in the toilet before I cannot do so anymore, then sit in the darkened room and smoke half a cigarette, feeling a wee bit irritable. But as I lay myself down on the bed, I realize just what a relief it is to be flat on my back, not moving. Suddenly the room seems a little off kilter, slightly spinning but not spinning. It's almost more in my eyes than in the room itself, and I am grateful for eating the anti-motion sickness stuff. I glance straight up at the light fixture in the dark room and something catches my eye.

"What the fuck is that?" I think. I can see a still faint silver, liquid metal looking ring shimmering and glittering around the outer rim of the light cover, and inside the glass there seem to be more of the same, slightly bobbing around as though the ceiling is vibrating. "Whoa, that's weird looking shit," I mumble to myself. No one hears me though, as we've hung a curtain between the living room where I'm lying motionless as I can possibly be and the rest of the apartment. (From here on out, any time I have to pee V has to come in and sit with me, making sure I have a good firm grip on both my member and the bucket I'm peeing in because standing isn't an option for the next few days, not until Tuesday morning.)

I begin to hear a very high pitched keening sound in both ears, at an almost physical fine point inside the deepest parts of my ears, a painless but odd laser playing on my eardrums. At first I try to attribute it to just my normal occasional ear ringing from too many loud rock concerts, but know that isn't it. It gets louder and louder, filling my entire body with a buzzing glow. The terrible dope sickness I've been feeling from not having taken any morphine at all since 12:30 the night before to be sure it's all out of my system before taking the ibogaine-as ibogaine can and does increase the strength of the dope, as it completely resets the person taking it, starting them out again at zero tolerance which can in turn lead very easily to overdoses by people who just moments before were indestructable-is suddenly not important. I know it's still there, but now there's this skin between me and my withdrawals-burning skin, softening and cushioning me. I close my eyes, and drift off. V comes in every hour to be sure I'm ok, ask if I need water or any music or anything at all, looking each time like a radiant angel of light, with an aura visible around her, and each time I'm totally unaware of that time between visits passing.

I do, gratefully, get to experience the "movies" I have heard so much about from so many other initiates and various published and anecdotal reports. I keep looking in my mind's eye for some kind of silver screen unfolding across the horizon in front of me, hanging in the vast starscape I keep coming back to each time I drift away, but that isn't what's happening at all. I don't even realize I am experiencing the movies at first, probably for hours and hours, because that's not what they are-they are, to quote PK, "a fucking HoloDeck dood! Yur There muther fucker!"

He is right, I'm right there, but where I haven't much of an idea most of the time, unable to remember much of anything too clearly when I come somewhat to my senses from out of the visions which completely take me away. I do know at one point I'm 5000 years in the future. Again floating out in space, feeling the emptiness and knowing I am ALL ALONE, I can see a bright thin line growing across my view way off in the distance, floating thousands of miles, light years, in front me. I watch as it grows in brightness and turns on end, becoming the tip of a cathedral-like building, very futuristic with weird angles and sharps edges and tall reaching stretching points, all on the vastest of scales, like nothing we can or do manage today. I descend through the air towards an open chamber at the very top of this beautiful building which itself sits at the very highest point of this huge sprawling and towering city. I can see teeming masses of people of all shapes and colors and sizes, but not like in any Sci-Fi movie I've ever seen-this is REAL. I enter the room and see these three gods, or so I perceive them, superhuman, all three so beautiful, with shining alabaster skin, perfect form and spirit, sleeping or hibernating in these cryogenic type coffins or boxes. The woman, whose name I even know but cannot later remember, though it makes my heart ache still to think of it, is the Queen or some kind of noble, with her male consort and advisor lying at each side of her in the other boxes. I think I'm supposed to wake them, or someone is and I'm just along for the ride. The "plot" as it unfolds is that they must somehow combine together to save humanity from utter destruction, as time is ending at the final Big Crunch if they can't bring forth this strange form, this thing that I simply haven't exact words for. I spend a long time living and talking with these three (V tells me later that at one point during the night I spend about 5 minutes speaking rapid fire in some strange language she can't recognize not matter how hard she listens but that I sound completely fluent), taking part in their lives in this far future utopia. What this life-saving thing is they have to guard, to release, this force or being is actually I do not discover because it doesn't make it all the way out of it's cocoon before the end comes. A black, ugly boiling rent in space opens up above the city and its planet and destroys everything, including this beautiful cloud-like, almost fetus-looking massive being thing, gross in its seriously bizarre alien form but not at all icky. It begins to spread wings, pumping out a hot, pure white silver light, full on power and beauty-but this fucking evil darkness, this hole in space eats it all, this new being, these three human/gods, all their peoples, and me.

I at another point realize I'm running, dodging, leaping in the crrent deadly war zone, that huge, sprawling cemetery in Najaf in Iraq, and I just can't understand how those people are surviving in any way sane or whole unscathed in these conditions. What in the hell must they be suffering through day after day, going out to KILL each other every single freakin' day, is beyond me. I can feel the terror in the air here, so physically present and tight it hurts, palpable, thick, fierce and full of screams of anger, of abject terror, or in lonely lost and broken pain crying for their loved ones, their mothers, their children at home. There is blood everywhere, not lovely sweet lover blood but dark, black, stinking, rotten, maggoty blood coating the walls, the gravestones in the cemetery where I'm dodging the enemy alongside my fellow Americans in that hell hole across the globe from me, and it stains the back of my thoat with galling clogging thickness. It's a terrible place, and I want out.

The way out is simple though-I open my eyes. Each time the scene gets too much for me, I open my eyes, and spend a minute of two watching all the liquid metal shatter and spin and flow from everything all around me, from right out of the molecules and cat dander floating around in the air of my room.

At about 24 hours into the session, I actually manage to leap out of bed in a fury (although I immediately collapse to the bed again), at around the 36 hours without any opiates mark, when first waking out of the first round of massive tripping. I return from voyaging out of my body/room/head/planet/into space at some vast freakin' distance from my extremely painfully sever opiate withdrawals-withdrawals I'm suddenly being beaten to a pulp by, driven mad and into a panic. I can't escape the hellish sensations, the burning and itching and full on fucking kicking, it's all encompassing and I want OUT! I at this point am still thinking that the ibogaine has somehow been acting as that aforementioned skin between me and my withdrawals, masking them for me, but now the soothing ibogaine skin has slipped outside my withdrawals-wretched skin and is holding it much too close to me and it Sucks! V comes in and tries to talk me into eating a booster to eradicate the final withdrawals agonies but I am in a helpless, wild fury. "How DARE they wanna give me MORE of that SHIT oh my GOD they've got a cabinet FULL of Pills why can't I have my painkillers NOW!!! I don't want that shit in me any more This was the stupidest thing I ever did! AarghghghghgH!!!!" So they give me a Valium 10 and let me calm down for a little while, until I suddenly realize they are right. Why the hell am I torturing myself and putting it off? I can feel better so quickly if I just eat the damn thing, so I call for V and she brings it to me, I glup it down with Fruit Punch Gatoraide, then a while later ingest even another one with no complaints at all on my part, both 3 milligrams per kilogram equaling 192 each, and off I go again. I am gone for all of Sunday afternoon and night, all day and night Monday too, and am just able to sit up and walk by Tuesday morning, but not too well. Despite the horror show imagery in parts of my experience, this is one hell of an incredible blessing in my mind, mumbo jumbo as some may make that to sound, and I wouldn't have missed going through this experience for anything. I have been left feeling healthy, happy and whole in ways I haven't been in decades, literally.

I end up taking a total of 160, 896, plus 896, plus 192 plus 192, equaling 22 and a half milligrams of ibogaine per kilogram of ibogaine. 64 times 22 and a half milligrams is how much ibogaine hydrochloride I received, for a grand total of 1440 milligrams. I have still a major pain issue to deal with and a very bad liver, so opiates are not only the most effective but the very safest for my body in terms of what damages most other pain drugs do physically to me. So I have been eating one MS-Contin in the morning, and one in the evening, and amazingly, I can feel them working, countering my pain with such efficiency I'm almost speechless. I'm still seeing trails everywhere tonight, on Thursday. I'm eating much more than I've been doing in over a year. I'm still unfortunately smoking cigarettes, so that isn't a goal I've successfully accomplished-yet. I smoked pot just after taking the initial dose of ibogaine, one bowl, then don't smoke again until early Tuesday morning.

The guerilla operation treatments were for a short time burning up the underground in NYC, and hopefully will continue to throw sparks in all directions. I'm not the only one blessed to have this opportunity to experience wonders few ever will. There have been dope dealers treated, and in turn they've been sending their heroin clients to these guerillas as well. Some treatments haven't been successful, some have scared the shit out of the participants, but all have accomplished the main short-term goals-freedom from withdrawal horrors, a complete reset of the opiate tolerances, and the choice to make some real changes. This drug, this shamanic root from Africa, is illegal in the United States, although legal in Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, Holland and maybe other countries too. Yet here in the U.S., where more money is wasted and more lives are ruined in the name of the endless War on Some Drugs and Users, this tool that definitely can be used to actually accomplish something, that can and does reduce the harms associated with hard core drug abuse in more cases than not, only continues to be banned and ignored by our politicians and prohibitionist fear-mongering, profiteering warpigs.

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