In the states, there’s a degree of mystery surrounding the process of ibogaine. This state of affairs is hardly an accident. Most scientists at R1 schools (especially those with a research budget to lose) are uncomfortable speaking publicly about the treatment because to do so is to league oneself with the black sheep of the American scientific community—psychedelic researchers, a culture still stained by the legacy of Timothy Leary’s decades-long LSD boosterism. Even tenured researchers express a certain skittishness when the subject arises. Organizations such as the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) seek to mend this division within the medical community, so far without much luck.
Rick Doblin, who earned a Ph.D. in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School and co-founded MAPS, has been a vocal proponent of psychedelic therapy since the mid-1980s and has helped produce recent MAPS studies on ibogaine’s promising curative applications in New Zealand and Mexico. Doblin also self-administered ibogaine in 1985 (video here) and tells me that “[ibogaine] remains one of the most important psychedelic experiences of my life, and one of the most important experiences of any kind. It has unique potential for helping people go through opiate withdrawal.”