The story that most people hear about ibogaine is that it is a miracle cure for addiction, with one dose being enough to totally wipe out all withdrawals from opioids and other drugs. Yet the reality is not quite that straightforward, and many people find that they still experience some withdrawals, or post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) after their treatment. This is especially common for people who have been using long-lasting opioids like methadone or Subotex, but can also affect heroin users, and many of the most experienced ibogaine providers are now discovering that this can be overcome using the so-called slow protocol.
While a flood dose typically involves administering between one gram and two grams of ibogaine in one go, the slow protocol is spread out over several days, sometimes with additional booster doses over the following weeks. In many cases, this is significantly safer and more effective than a flood dose. Firstly, it dramatically reduces the possibility of adverse cardiac events, and secondly, it allows for a higher quantity of ibogaine to be ingested overall. This provides a greater possibility of eliminating all lingering withdrawals, and is therefore a much more effective detox.
As with a flood dose, the slow protocol will also generate a feeling of being ‘reset’, as it will lead to better regulation of key neurotransmitters and the recuperation of many of the neuroreceptors affected by addiction.
However, one thing that the slow protocol will not provide is a visionary experience, which many people believe is a key component of ibogaine’s healing capabilities. While this element of the treatment is often extremely powerful and can be life-changing, it is worth remembering that the primary reason for using ibogaine is to get clean. In certain cases, the simple fact is that the slow protocol is going to be more effective at cleaning a person up, as it will eliminate all of their withdrawals whereas a flood dose will not.
It may therefore be more appropriate to forego the visionary element of the ibogaine experience in order to get clean using the slow protocol. Once detoxed, it is then possible to enter into a visionary experience at a later date, whether through a flood dose of ibogaine or using other psychedelics like ayahuasca or psilocybin.
A note from the author: Over the years that I have been working with ibogaine, I have learnt that some people simply are not candidates for a flood dose, and the slow protocol really is the only option. This may be because they are in no physical condition to safely undergo a flood dose, or because their level of opioid use is so high that the slow protocol is the only way to get rid of their withdrawals and clean them up.
However, many people are not prepared to stay clean. Invariably, they come up with the same narrative to give themselves permission to relapse: “I didn’t get the visionary experience, so I don’t think it worked.”
The fact is that it did work – it cleaned you up and it gave you the famous ‘ibogaine reset’. It is up to you to either be positive or negative about it. If you tell yourself that you need some sort of experience in order to allow yourself to stay clean then you simply are not ready to be clean. Remember that ibogaine is just one step on the road to recovery, and there are always more lessons to be learned. This is why preparation and aftercare are the most important part of any ibogaine treatment.