Background: The psychoactive indole alkaloid ibogaine has been associated with encouraging treatment outcomes for opioid dependence. The legal status of ibogaine in New Zealand provides a unique opportunity to evaluate durability of treatment outcomes.
Objective: To examine longitudinal treatment effects over a 12-month period among individuals receiving legal ibogaine treatment for opioid dependence.
Method: This observational study measured addiction severity as the primary outcome in 14 participants (50% female) over 12 months post-treatment using the Addiction Severity Index-Lite (ASI-Lite) following a single ibogaine treatment by either of two treatment providers. Secondary effects on depression were assessed via the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II). The Subjective Opioid Withdrawal Scale (SOWS) was collected before and immediately after treatment to measure opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Results: Nonparametric comparisons via Friedman Test between baseline and 12-month follow-up for participants completing all interviews (n = 8) showed a significant reduction for the ASI-Lite drug use (p = 0.002) composite score. Reductions in BDI-II scores from baseline to 12-month follow-up were also significant (p < 0.001). Significant reductions in SOWS scores for all participants (n = 14) were also observed acutely after treatment (p = 0.015). Patients with partial data (n = 4) also showed reductions in ASI-Lite drug use scores and family/social status problems. One patient enrolled in the study died during treatment.
Conclusion: A single ibogaine treatment reduced opioid withdrawal symptoms and achieved opioid cessation or sustained reduced use in dependent individuals as measured over 12 months. Ibogaine’s legal availability in New Zealand may offer improved outcomes where legislation supports treatment providers to work closely with other health professionals.