Forum debates use of Ibogaine

The idea of an Ibogaine treatment facility in New Zealand has been debated at a forum in Dunedin.

The Ibogaine Community Forum, held at the University of Otago on Saturday, attracted about 30 people who listened to a range of speakers involved in drug addiction treatment and the use of Ibogaine.

Two of the speakers came from the United States and South Africa respectively.

Tanea Paterson arranged the forum to drive discussion on how the drug, derived from an African plant, could become an official option for addiction treatment.

She was impressed with the interesting ideas at the forum but knew her goal of setting up a treatment clinic to administer it came down to clinical trials being carried out and the drug gaining official status.

Senior lecturer in the University of Otago department of psychological medicine and director of the Community Alcohol and Drug Service, Dr Gavin Cape, took part and said a research interest group was being formed to look at "therapeutic agents to help people who have addiction problems".

He believed Ibogaine was a "promising therapeutic agent" but stressed "it remains unofficial because there is a lot of debate about it".

Many people swore by its effectiveness and a strong support group had established around it but "it would take a long time before it became official" as controlled trials to test it further were required.

"What we are trying to do is really discover, along a scientific paradigm, if Ibogaine is as useful as some people say it is."

The research group may look at starting clinical trials but nothing had been decided, he said.

Ibogaine was not illegal in New Zealand but was prohibited in the United States due to its hallucinogenic properties.

Ms Paterson said the drug not only assisted in the physical symptoms of withdrawal but the mental side as well as it allowed users to reflect on their issues.

She emphasised the drug would have little interest from recreational users because it did not offer an enjoyable experience.

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