Emery’s newest project is a drug rehabilitation clinic which he opened in November 2002, in the town of Gibsons on BC’s Sunshine Coast.
Emery has been treating volunteer heroin and cocaine addicts with a psychedelic drug called ibogaine, which eliminates withdrawal symptoms and helps produce the mental change needed to quit using.
Emery first began treating users at his “Iboga Therapy House” in November 2002. He has personally dosed over two dozen patients, but has yet to take the drug himself. All those treated are volunteers, hoping to quit their heroin or cocaine use.
“Ibogaine can cause intense visualizations lasting 10 to 18 hours,” Emery told Cannabis Culture. “It seems to be a very personal experience, with the user unable to talk about it for days afterwards. There’s a great deal of introspective thinking going on.”
“Potential patients must stay drug-free for 24 hours before they take the ibogaine,” explained Emery. “I have found two doses to be most effective, spaced about a week apart. Typically the first dose cancels the physical addiction, and the second targets the psychological underpinnings of addictive behavior.”
“There are two facilitators in attendance who are trained in first aid. They observe patients and check pulse and blood pressure for 24 hours after we administer the dosage,” said Emery. “Plus there’s a hospital 10 minutes away.” Ibogaine is not prohibited or regulated in Canada, but it is illegal in the US.
Emery gets his ibogaine on the international market, from clinics in Slovenia and Holland.
“This treatment is not cheap,” added Emery. “It costs about $1000 a dose, and it takes two doses for each patient, plus the costs of staff, rent and so on.” Ibogaine clinics in Holland, Italy, Costa Rica and elsewhere typically charge between $2000 and $10,000 for a single dose and seven day clinic stay, but Emery provides his treatment completely free of charge.
“I subsidize the whole thing with the profits I make from my seed sales,” says Emery. “I tell my patients that their treatment is being paid for by the cannabis culture.”
Ibogaine is a naturally occurring alkaloid found in the root of an African plant called tabernathe iboga. In Cameroon and Gabon, iboga root is used in religious ceremonies to induce visions.
In the 1950’s and early 1960’s, ibogaine was being studied by psychiatrists as an anti-anxiety drug. in 1962, a New York film student named Howard Lotsof got some doses of the drug, and found that taking it automatically cut his heroin and cocaine use, and that it had the same effect on his friends.
Lotsof has worked for years to help popularize the use of ibogaine for treatment of heroin addiction. “Chemical dependence is a learned behavior that has to be unlearned,” says Lotsof. “Ibogaine is an unlearning tool, as well as a substance that blocks narcotic withdrawal.”
The idea of using psychedelic drugs to help break addictions is not limited to ibogaine. In the 1950s, research was conducted on using LSD as part of a treatment for alcoholism, with favorable results.
Emery says he will host a public ibogaine conference in Vancouver, sometime this summer. Those wishing to attend should contact him for information.