Sunday, 19 July 2015

Great article about addiction

Drug use is common, drug addiction is rare. About one adult in three will use an illegal drug in their lifetime and just under 3m people will do so this year in England and Wales alone. Most will suffer no long-term harm.
There are immediate risks from overdose and intoxication, and longer-term health risks associated with heavy or prolonged use; damage to lungs from smoking cannabis or the bladder from ketamine for example. However most people will either pass unscathed through a short period of experimentation or learn to accommodate their drug use into their lifestyle, adjusting patterns of use to their social and domestic circumstances, as they do with alcohol.
Compared to the 3m currently using illegal drugs there are around 300,000 heroin and/or crack addicts while around 30,000 were successfully treated for dependency on drugs in England in 2011-12, typically cannabis, or powder cocaine.
A powerful cultural narrative focusing on the power of illegal drugs to disrupt otherwise stable, happy lives dominates our media and political discourse, and shapes policy responses. Drug use is deemed to “spiral out of control”, destroying an individual’s ability to earn their living or care for their children, transforming honest productive citizens into welfare dependent, criminal “families from hell”.
This is a key component of the Broken Britaincritique of welfare and social policy advanced by the Centre for Social Justice and pursued in government by the CSJ’s founder Iain Duncan Smith in his role as secretary of state for work and pensions. However, the narrative has resonance far beyond the political arena and underpins most media coverage of drug addiction and the drug storylines of popular culture.
Most drug users are ..?
In reality the likelihood of individuals without pre-existing vulnerabilities succumbing to long-term addiction is slim. Heroin and crack addicts are not a random sub set of England’s 3m current drug users.
Addiction, unlike use, is heavily concentrated in our poorest communities – and within those communities it is the individuals who struggle most with life who will succumb. Compared to the rest of the population, heroin and crack addicts are: male, working-class, offenders, have poor educational records, little or no history of employment, experience of the care system, a vulnerability to mental illness and increasingly are over 40 with declining physical health.

The usual message. Imagens EvangelicasCC BY

Problem cannabis use is less concentrated among the poor, but is closely associated with indicators of social stress and a vulnerability to developing mental health conditions.
Most drug users are intelligent resourceful people with good life skills, supportive networks and loving families. These assets enable them to manage the risks associated with their drug use, avoiding the most dangerous drugs and managing their frequency and scale of use to reduce harm and maximise pleasure. Crucially they will have access to support from family and friends should they begin to develop problems, and a realistic prospect of a job, a house and a stake in society to focus and sustain their motivation to get back on track.
In contrast the most vulnerable individuals in our poorest communities lack life skills and have networks that entrench their problems rather than offering solutions. Their decision making will tend to prioritise immediate benefit rather than long-term consequences. The multiplicity of overlapping challenges they face gives them little incentive to avoid high risk behaviours.
Together these factors make it more likely that, instead of carefully calibrating their drug use to minimise risk, they will be prepared to use the most dangerous drugs in the most dangerous ways. And once addicted, motivation to recover and the likelihood of success is weakened by an absence of family support, poor prospects of employment, insecure housing and social isolation.
In short what determines whether or not drug use escalates into addiction, and the prognosis once it has, is less to do with the power of the drug and more to do with the social, personal and economic circumstances of the user.
Heads in the sand
Unfortunately the strong relationship between social distress and addiction is ignored by politicians and media commentators in favour of an assumption that addiction is a random risk driven by the power of the drug.
It does happen. But the atypical experience of the relatively small number of drug users from stable backgrounds who stumble into addiction and can legitimately attribute the chaos of their subsequent lives to this one event drowns out the experience of the overwhelming majority of addicts for whom social isolation, economic exclusion, criminality and fragile mental health preceded their drug use rather than being caused by it.
Viewing addiction through the distorting lens of the minority causes policy makers to misunderstand the flow of causality and pushes them towards interventions focused on changing individual drug-using behaviour and away from addressing the structural inequality in which the vulnerabilities to addiction can flourish.
Until we re-frame our understanding of drug addiction as more often the consequence of social evils than their root cause, then we are doomed to misdirect our energy and resources towards blaming the outcasts and the vulnerable for their plight rather than recasting our economic and social structures to give them access to the sources of resilience that protect the rest of us.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Iboga- A Magic Bullet?

Thoughts and random musings 

I get the feeling, that this blog and therefore, my own thoughts and behaviours are, to the average reader, quite controversial. 

When I first started writing this I was just the other side of my first Iboga experience. 
Maybe I was in the happy cloud older Iboga initiates talk of?!
Either way I was so enthused and amazed at how easy, yet incredibly powerful, that first 'flood' was!

The blog continues, charting my journey through addictions and life. Two more full floods followed with lots of half assed attempts inbetween. 
Looking back to that first trip I was so naive! 
I mean I'd read everything I could find on the subject, I knew the pharmacology and the plants physical and psychological effects. I'd spent nearly two years plucking up the courage to do it. 
From what I'd read online, I was expecting this incredible psychedelic, cathartic, energising, beautiful experience. One where I may get nauseous and would certainly get ataxia and wobble about the place. I did everything by the book, 18mg/kg HCL taken in two lots two hours apart. 
I'd been preparing for a long time, reducing my methadone, eating healthily, hydrating, cutting out prescribed meds and other recreational drugs. I had a sitter (who was probably more terrified than me!) I had written everything down in case of an emergency and the doctors needed info. I even signed a disclaimer of sorts, proof that I had knowingly and willingly taken Iboga. 

Well, I don't remember much, it was amazing though. I do remember bits of it, my partner turning into a purple and green skull with dreadlocks, the drums, the fire, singing and clapping. 
You pretty much lose all concept of time, I guess it was about 12 hours later I started to become lucid again. 
It is a wonderful feeling, realising you are 36 hours into an opiate detox with zero withdrawal symptoms and no urge to score. 
I got emotional, floods of years, happiness, regret, sorrow..
I called my mum and apologised for having worried her for so many years, how sorry I was for letting them all down. It was quite cathartic!

24 hours in and the main Iboga trip is wearing off, I can walk around a bit now, I sipped some juice. 
48 hours in and I keep pinching myself, 'am I really clean?' ... 'Im not sick, I should be in the midst of a cold turkey!' .. Na, nothing!..

72 hours...
Start to get a runny nose, guts liquify. I calm myself and convince myself this is just the last of the methadone coming out, they're very minor symptoms and that I should stop being a pussy. 
I call ibogaworld and literally beg them to send me some TA or HCL and I'd pay them back when I was better. 
(I was, and still am, incredibly grateful to Michele and the ibogaworld team for helping me out like that) 
They agreed but it would take ten days to get to me. 
I trudge on.. Managing to grab snippets of sleep here and there. 

Ok, by day five I'm sick as fuck. 
The Iboga has worn off and in shitting and puking and sneezing.. How long does this go on for?!
I can deal with a bit, but this is fucked. 
The Iboga on order is at least a week away still!

Day six and I can't cope any longer, it's too painful, I give in and score a bag. 
I feel like a piece of shit for not being 'strong enough' to make it. 
I justify this as a 'slip' and that ill make another attempt at an Iboga flood in a few months again (which I did do)

So, I learnt a lot from this, I learnt that despite all my hope and determination, methadone, no matter how you detox, is a bitch to get off. 
I started hearing more and more stories from people that struggled and 'failed' when trying to get off methadone and suboxone with Ibogaine. 
This made me feel a little less crap about myself anyway, it's apparently quite a common scenario. 

I see this more and more often, desperate addicts thinking that Iboga is their one and only hope of cleaning up. 
It does sound amazing, and don't get me wrong, it IS amazing. 
BUT, it really isn't the silver bullet/golden ticket/last chance that people think it is. 
Sure, some lucky people do get, exactly what they are looking for, when it all works out its amazing, these people completely turn their lives around. They also, often become very vocal advocates of Iboga, this is beautiful to see and they're doing a sterling job. 
The down side to these people though is that they often only see the good and challenge anybody's opinion that doesn't match their own. 
I've been told I was just weak and I could have got through that first flood if I'd tried harder. 
They will not accept that Iboga just doesn't work the same for everyone. 
I have a good friend that went to a provider for treatment, the HCL had zero affect and she spent three days shitting and puking up. Further doses made no difference at all and she eventually managed to crawl home to score. 
We don't know why but on occasion Iboga doesn't do what we want it to. It doesn't seem to be down to dosing either.
It's quite possibly genetic. 
Just like some people who were perfectly healthy and passed the ECG and blood tests before treatment, drop dead of a heart attack five days after flooding. 
No one knows why. All we can do is try to negate the risks and work as safely and responsibly as possible. 

I'd love to see some proper stats on this. I don't think there are many studies looking specifically at long term abstinence post Iboga. 
I'm pretty sure they would be quite a lot higher than traditional detox and rehab; which from memory stands at about 5%. Same as methadone treatment. 

I found this paper which documents a small sample.

I won't quote parts of it but have a read. Interesting stuff. 

The problem with doing these type of trials is mainly that the patients drop out and stop reporting, or they relapse or they pass away. 
It's a difficult thing to study. 

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Long overdue update!!

A very long overdue post!

Wow, it's been such a long time since I've posted on here!
Such a lot has happened..

I did end up taking part in David Graham Scott's documentary "iboga nights", which was a loose follow up to his "detox or die" 
I self treated with and ibogaine flood whilst he filmed and watched over me, checking my stats and administering my pre-prepared hcl doses.
The detox was successful and I stayed clean for s king time afterwards, with a lot of struggle and determination!

That was a few years ago now though!

I relapsed and got back on it big time after that, probably the worst I'd ever been before.
Injecting heroin and crack in my femoral vein, in the groin. In silly amounts.

A lot changed in my personal situation too, I ended up living on a boat on the canals in london for over a year, found lots of work on the boats too, which is what I still do now.
I painted a few narrowboats last summer and have a few already lined up for this year!

I'm clean again nowadays, although it's an ongoing battle, day by day, nearly twenty years of IV drug use takes its toll, physically and psychologically!
It's a bitch of a habit to break, and really doesn't get easier the older one gets. 

I will start posting here again now anyhow, I have such a lot to catch up on, thought I'd let you all know I'm not dead somewhere :) 

Until next time,.....!