How to avoid scams in the ibogaine industry

Ibogaine is a powerful psychedelic known for its lengthy visionary experience. It is most commonly known for its ability to eliminate opiate withdrawals and returning the participant to a neurobiological pre-addicted state within a couple of days. Ibogaine clinics are located worldwide, and they are often a solution for people looking for alternative solutions for substance abuse and mental health treatment.

However, these clinics are not currently regulated, and there have been many reports of dangerous treatments, fatalities, and online forums are full of clients who left treatment in withdrawal and lost money to scams. Online community Psychable has created a comprehensive directory of Ibogaine clinics, numerous articles on Ibogaine, and a community forum where those interested can ask questions and share stories. In this post, we will discuss the most common red flags associated with ibogaine treatment centers and how you can avoid them from materials they provide for free.

“Unfortunately, the ibogaine treatment industry is unregulated and spans multiple countries,” explains Jemie Sae Koo, CEO and Co-Founder of Psychable. “Doing your due diligence before you choose an ibogaine provider is crucial. If you find yourself leaving a treatment center with a bad experience, your options are limited.”

Jemie Sae Koo, Psychable CEO and Co-Founder

Red Flags to Avoid in Any Ibogaine Treatment Center

Ibogaine Center Red Flags

  • Not having an EKG and AED (defibrillator) machine on-site.
  • A non-refundable deposit once a date is settled upon is normal, paying everything upfront is not. Similarly, being pushy about choosing a date is unprofessional and not centered around a client’s needs. Sometimes waiting is best.
  • There should be people on site who have gone through the ibogaine process for themselves. Has the provider been through a flood dose themselves?
  • Charging more money due to the prominence of a provider’s name.
  • Providers who cannot provide multiple references are a red flag. Please make sure to call these references and see what they have to say. Ask for more than one.
  • Look at the history of the ibogaine provider. Have they changed their business name multiple times? Some providers change their business name to avoid discussing fatalities or adverse medical events. Similarly, if a provider bounces around to a lot of centers, find out why. This could be normal or in reaction to fatalities.
  • Using success rates to advertise their treatment options. There are many different ways to define success with ibogaine treatment as everyone has different goals and intentions. Most “success rates” in the ibogaine industry hover around 70-90%, are based around an “abstinent only” mindset, and are made up by the provider to promote ibogaine as a cure. The truth is that we don’t have hard data to support these numbers.

Ibogaine Treatment Red Flags

  • Cleanses in the 2-3 weeks prior to treatment allowed or encouraged by the center. This is dangerous as it depletes electrolytes which then affects cardiac function. Centers that incorporate coffee enemas, Kambo, or other colon cleanses at their center should be steered clear of. Colon cleanses sometimes need to be completed but should be done a few weeks in advance.
  • A provider trying to “sell” ibogaine as a “cure”. Saying ibogaine can cure HIV, cancer, and other diseases is a red flag. Advertising a cure for autism is offensive to neurodivergent people and a red flag for the ethical considerations of the center.
  • Nearly all medications – OTC and prescribed – and some herbs and supplements will require a length of time off before treatment. SSRIs require a minimum of 30 days. Ask providers about how they determine their protocols, as substance cessation time can vary greatly within the ibogaine industry. This knowledge should demonstrate a provider’s experience and knowledge of a particular substance.
  • Any provider who claims they can do a Suboxone or methadone session without a minimum of one month’s switch over to a short-acting opiate (SAO) is a major red flag. Ideally, providers will talk about the very real possibility of post-acute withdrawals with suboxone with less than 60-90 days of an SAO switchover. Fentanyl, tramadol, and kratom also require SAO switch-over times. There is no “special protocol” that strips Suboxone or other opioids from the receptors.
  • Claiming that a person can be treated straight from amphetamines and/or alcohol. In general, 5-14 days of abstinence will be asked.
  • Claiming that ibogaine can detox someone from benzodiazepines. This is a life-threatening situation. Ibogaine does not work for benzodiazepine dependence.

I’m unhappy with my treatment, what do I do?

After treatment your options are limited. The Root Ibogaine Collective is a newer organization with the intention of providing inclusivity and accountability to the ibogaine community. They have a grievance process for individuals who have had a bad experience and need to report it.

How to avoid a scam or dangerous ibogaine clinic

Carefully vet many ibogaine treatment providers and centers before making a decision. Despite the many ibogaine centers that claim to be professional, there is a lack of accountability and safety in the industry, leaving room for undesirable situations and scams to occur. As a result, no shortage of grievance reports are submitted by clients with bad experiences to organizations that attempt to provide oversight to an unregulated industry. However, this is only a small step towards what may have been a dangerous or unethical experience.

Be an advocate for your treatment and get to know the “patient bill of rights.” Ask the ibogaine providers you are speaking to if they are familiar with it. It is also common for ibogaine centers to have “informed consent” contracts. Find out if you’ll be expected to sign one. Make sure to purchase travel insurance that will cover a hospital stay in the event of a medical emergency. If you are an American, it may be a good idea to sign up for the U.S. Embassy’s “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program”. At the very least, make sure family and/or friends know where you will be and how to get a hold of you. Let your prospective center know that you are prepared and covered your bases.

Finally, get to know the people who will be overseeing your ibogaine treatment through a series of phone calls and emails. Always ask for references and take the time to thoroughly vet the references provided. Most importantly, don’t rush your decision or treatment, and trust your intuition. Ibogaine is a significant thing to do, and despite having important reasons for wanting to do it, taking your time in choosing a center will help you make an informed and safe decision.