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Treating drug dependence with the aid of ibogaine: A qualitative study

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Background: Substance use disorders are important contributors to the global burden of disease, but current treatments are not associated with high rates of recovery. The lack of approved and effective treatments is acutely problematic for psychostimulants like cocaine and crack cocaine. One promising alternative in the treatment of drug dependence in general and psychostimulants in particular is the use of the psychedelic alkaloid ibogaine combined with psychotherapy. This was recently shown to induce prolonged periods of abstinence in polydrug users, including psychostimulants. However, drug dependence treatments cannot be comprehensively evaluated with reductions in consumption alone, with current recommendations including secondary outcome measures like craving, family and social relationship, quality of life, and self-efficacy.

Methods: We therefore employed a directed approach to qualitative content analysis to evaluate the outcomes of a treatment combining ibogaine with cognitive-behavioral therapy based on data gathered from patient’s reports obtained in semi-structured interviews.

Main findings: The results revealed that patients benefited from the treatment in all the secondary outcomes, reporting decreases in craving and improvements in personal relationships, quality of life, and self-efficacy, thus supporting existing notions that treatments combining ibogaine and psychotherapy do have a therapeutic potential in the treatment of substance use disorders.

Schenberg, E. E., de Castro Comis, M. A., Alexandre, J. F. M., Chaves, B. D. R., Tófoli, L. F., & da Silveira, D. X. (2016). Treating drug dependence with the aid of ibogaine: A qualitative study. Journal of Psychedelic Studies, (0), 1-10. 10.1556/2054.01.2016.002

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