Scott Disick Returns to Rehab

Fans of Keeping Up with the Kardashian know that Scott Disick has alcohol addiction problems. Last June, Disick suffered a serious health scare, when he was taken to Southampton Hospital with alcohol poisoning. He checked himself into rehab shortly afterwards, but left before his treatment was over.

But now Disick says he finally realizes he really needs help and has checked into the Rythmia Life Advancement Center (RLAC) in Lorena, Guanacaste, Costa Rica:

“I realize my issues are bigger than me and I’m ready to truly remedy this struggle I continue to battle.  While I have been unconvinced in the past of treatment and therapy methods, Rythmia’s rehab approach puts my worries at ease.”

The luxury rehab center (they will fly you there by helicopter) was founded in 2014 by CEO Gerard Powell and Patrick Moughenda- the “only 10th generation Bwiti shaman in the world.” It uses both standard individual and group support as well as complementary and alternative therapies. One of these therapies is called iboga treatment (details below) which uses a naturally occurring psychoactive substance called ibogaine to help patients through their addictions.

Powell says that the philosophy of RLAC is different from other centers in that:

“Unlike other rehab centers, RLAC does not believe addiction is a disease; we believe people like Scott become dependent on their vices due to past events they have not reconciled with, current conditions they cannot cope with, and things they believe aren’t true.”

“We are looking forward to having Scott join us at our center this month. Our goal is to locate what is causing his problem and heal it on all levels.  The added iboga treatment along with our complete and unique rehabilitation model allows us to effectively treat our clients and accomplish personal transformation for all.”

RLAC offers a money back guarantee that their program works and claims that no one has, as of yet, asked for a refund.

We wish him good luck and hope that RLAC can give him the help he needs.

What is Iboga Treatment?

Ibogaine-3d-sticksIgoba treatment uses a naturally occurring psychoactive substance called ibogaine to help patients through their addictions. Ibogaine comes from bark of the root of plants in the Apocynaceae family such as Tabernanthe iboga, Voacanga africana and Tabernaemontana undulata. The drug is considered psychogenic with dissociative properties. A dissociative drug distorts perceptions of sight and sound and produces feelings of detachment – dissociation – from the environment and self.

Ibogaine-containing preparations are used for medicinal and ritual purposes within African spiritual traditions of the Bwiti, who claim to have learned it from the Pygmy peoples. Although banned in many countries, in others, it is used in others to treat addiction to methadone, heroin, ethanol, cocaine, methamphetamine, anabolic steroids, and other drugs. Ibogaine is also used to treat depression and post traumatic stress disorder.

The History of Ibogaine Treatment for Addiction

The use of ibogaine in drug addiction was serendipitously noted by a man named Howard Lotsof, a habitual heroine user in 1962. He and a group of 19 like-minded individuals met in NYC to “study” the subjective effects of a wide variety of psychoactive substances. When they tried ibogaine, 5 out of 7 of the group (those who were admitted heroin addicts) reported that they had lost the urge to use heroin for at least 6 months afterwards. Lotsof and the others also noted that they did not experience heroin withdrawal symptoms during the period after using ibogaine. Lotsof made it his life’s work to advocate for the use of ibogaine for opiate dependence.

In 1967 the U.S. DFA, classified ibogaine and scores of other psychoactive substances as Schedule I drugs, effectively making their possession illegal. Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. They are considered the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.

Undeterred, Lotsof founded a nonprofit corporation, the Dora Weiner Foundation to promote legalization of ibogaine for use in addiction treatment. In 1986 he started the private company NDA International to provide funds to support research on ibogaine on animal models in NY and Rotterdam, Netherlands. The initial studies with rodents was promising, showing that the drug inhibited the self-administration of psychostimulants such as cocaine. NDA also supported ibogaine treatments in a non-medical setting in the Netherlands where about 40 patients were treated between 1989 and 1993. The death of one of the participants in the Dutch study brought an end to the funding from NDA and cooled the Dutch’s enthusiasm for the project.

In countries where it remains legal, there is a growing informal network of ibogaine providers, especially over the last decade.

How is the treatment administered and what happens to the patient during treatment?

For addiction treatment, ibogaine is given by mouth at a dosage which is adjusted by body weight. It is given at doses twice as strong as those used for psycho-spiritual purposes.

The patient is typically given a dose in the morning and is kept in a quiet, darkened room for the entire treatment. The patient seems to go through 3 stages after the administration of the drug:

  • “Acute” phase- begins 1-2 hours after ingestion and lasts 4-8 hours. Characterized by intense emotions and described as ” ‘a panoramic recall of a large amount of material relating to prior life events from long-term memory, primarily in the visual modality,’ or the ‘waking dream’ state. ” Dizziness and vomiting are common in this period.
  • “Evaluative” phase- begins 4-8 hours after ingestion. The patient’s attention becomes directed inward and the emotions are less intense. External stimuli may be considered annoying and the patient usually prefers being in the quiet environment.”
  • “Residual Stimulation” phase- begins 12-24 hours after ingestion and can last 24-72 hours or more. The patient returns to a normal state of attention although there can be lingering arousal or vigilance. There is frequently a decreased need for sleep which can last for days or weeks.

Is ibogaine safe?

There is currently no evidence that ibogaine is physiologically or psychologically addictive in animals or humans.

There may be some significant health risks associated with ibogaine use, especially in those with pre-existing medical conditions. The most common side effects include tremors (fine trembling) , hallucinations and can cause slowing of the heart rate. The most serious complication is sudden death. Since 1990, at least 19 people have died within 76 hours of ingestion of ibogaine. It has not been determined whether these deaths were directly caused by ibogaine or by other co-factors.

The bottom line…

Ibogaine has shown some promise in animal studies and anecdotal human claims for those dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. However the total lack of controlled clinical trials makes it difficult to recommend its use as standard therapy.  One must also be cautious about the setting in which the drug is administered- Is there a set protocol or standards for administration? Are there qualified medical personnel on hand in case of emergency?

As there is a growing subculture of those advocating its use, researchers need to do the appropriate studies to establish the usefulness as well as safety of the drug.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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