[Ibogaine] Barcelona Ibogaine session setforInternationalHarmReduction Conference

Nick Sandberg nick227 at tiscali.co.uk
Tue Feb 12 06:45:07 EST 2008

Hi again Dana,


Checking out a bit more, I see that there are 4 speakers and only one is
skeptic. I’ve written to Alex and cc’ed to Gerry, the UK head of IHRA,
saying I find it reprehensible that he compares ibogaine to thalidomide, but
I would consider it fair to have one skeptic in discussions also. My mail
copied below.








Dear Alex,


I wanted to get in touch with you as I was quite concerned by the précis of
your proposed talk at the upcoming Barcelona Harm Reduction Conference,
which I’ve copied below



Since the tragic experience of thalidomide some decades ago, medicine has
been based firmly on scientific evidence. All interventions are assumed to
be ineffective, unsafe and cost-ineffective until proven otherwise. Harm
reduction is also based firmly on scientific evidence while conventional
drug policy relying heavily on supply control has a weak committment to
evidence. Theoretical justifications for interventions are of interest but
they are no substitute for rigorous scientific evidence of effectiveness,
safety and cost-effectiveness. For example, oral naltrexone has been
strongly advocated by critics of harm reduction as a treatment for heroin
dependence on the basis of attractive theory. However, empirical studies
showed that clearly naltrexone is ineffective, unsafe and cost-ineffective
as a treatment for heroin dependence. Published evidence for Ibogaine as a
treatment for heroin dependence is unimpressive. Persistent and sincere
advocacy for ibogaine is no substitute for rigorous evidence. 'Evidence'
means several rigorous scientific trials published in reputable
peer-reviewed scientific journals demonstrating major benefits consistently
and in the absence of unacceptable side effects. Evidence of effectiveness
preferably (but not necessarily) requires randomised controlled trials where
this is possible. 'Evidence' is not a strong theoretical rationale.
Advocates for Ibogaine and harm reduction clinicians and scientists will be
brought closer together when all agree that all prevention and treatment
interventions have to be based on rigorous scientific evidence of
effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness.



It seemed to me completely misrepresentative of the drug and I felt strongly
to get in touch with you and try and see where you were actually coming
from. I have been involved with ibogaine in the UK for the past 10 years,
running the website www.ibogaine.co.uk <http://www.ibogaine.co.uk/> . I
mention here that I do not sell ibogaine, I do not treat people, and I have
no financial stake in the drug whatsoever. I set up and maintained the site
for nearly a decade because I was concerned about the plight of addicts and
saw first-hand just how incredible this treatment was. I am currently the
manager of a leading new-age community in Dorset, England and I am trained
and qualified as a Humaniversity Therapist, a humanistic psychology school
that run a Therapeutic Community, working directly with addiction, based in


Now, to be honest, I find the opening sentence of this précis to be utterly
manipulative. I find it hard to believe that someone who had any concern for
truth or for the treatment of addiction could make such a misleading
comparison. If you have a strong argument it will stand up without resorting
to such manipulative techniques. As to the argument itself, I find it only
fair that, whilst making the statements you do, you also accurately
articulate the means by which new drugs are assessed and come to the market.
I say this because when this is done the truth of the situation becomes a
great deal more clear. For sure, be sceptical. I’ve no problem with it, but
please at least do some basic research and represent the points fairly.


As point of fact, there have been proper scientific studies of ibogaine.
They have given a preliminary demonstration of the drug’s safety and
efficacy. There certainly need to be more studies, but the issues that have
blocked them taking place thus far are not related to the drug’s
effectiveness. The studies that have been done have taken place without the
financial backing of the Pharm business. They have been financed by private
money. Ibogaine has been so disregarded by the State and by the Pharm houses
that it is, in my opinion, nothing short of miraculous that the work that
has been carried out has happened at all. It has happened for the sole
reason that the drug’s effects are so positive and so stunning that people
just get involved. In a political climate where big business effectively
completely controls the development of new medications, that so much work
has been done with ibogaine should be applauded, not subjected to
manipulative sermonizing. 


Ibogaine is not going to go away. If it was it would have done so years ago.
The reason for this is that it only takes one treatment for people to
actually see for themselves just how remarkable this drug is. People get on
board. They often just drop what they’re doing and get on board. Dr Ken
Alper, an associate professor of psychiatry at the NY School of Medicine,
recently published an academic survey of clinical and non-clinical ibogaine
treatments, covering many thousands of sessions. In the background there are
more and more moves to bring psychoactives to the market. Clinical trials
are currently going on with MDMA, LSD and Psilocybin. MAPS are financing
more studies with ibogaine, again work which hasn’t been sanctioned by big
business. Ibogaine will get legal eventually. I have personally no doubt
about this. 


I urge you to re-think your talk. For sure present the issues, but please do
it fairly. It’s awful to see people who are in theory trying to do good for
addicts stoop to such manipulation, and absurd to think any good will come
of it.


Kind regards


Nick Sandberg

Thorngrove House, etc


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