Last Updated on September 21, 2016 by Dr. Alberto Solà

Most people who are living in a state of active addiction tend to let everything else in their lives go by the wayside. Bit by bit, everything else except their state of active addiction becomes de-prioritized. By the time a drug-dependent individual has entered an ibogaine detox program, it’s usually the last-chance, tail-end of years of struggling with addiction, where they’ve gone through multiple failed attempts at getting clean. People’s physical health and nutrition is usually quite poor.

Often, many individuals recovering from active opioid addiction notice a frustrating lack of energy and a general weakness after detoxing, usually occurring along with other frustrating symptoms such as depression, anxiety and cloudy thinking. This is generally to be expected in early recovery, as the body is readjusting to a life without exogenous opioids. Thankfully, the human body is adaptable, and for many people, as the recovery process takes place, these problems will slowly dissipate. However, for some individuals, there may be a larger issue involving hormonal imbalances at play.

In some of the opioid-using population, chronic usage can lead to a significant hormonal imbalance called opioid associated androgen deficiency (OPIAD). While some opioids in particular are correlated with significant decreases in androgen production, research suggests that chronic use of any opioids can lead to OPIAD. This can present a problem both in people currently using opioids and individuals who have recently discontinued usage.

OPIAD can cause multiple side-effects and sometimes significant physical distress. Unfortunately, these side-effects may be mis-diagnosed or not diagnosed at all, especially in women, as there is a dearth of research on OPIAD and its effects on opioid users, and most studies seem to focus on testosterone levels in opioid-using men. However, both male and female opioid users can suffer from androgen deficiency, and, because of the way hormones influence each other, there may also decreased levels of estrogen. (It is important to remember that both men and women need appropriate amounts of both androgens and estrogen.)

Because hormonal balance can affect a wide variety of bodily systems and pathways, the symptoms of OPIAD are varied, but often include lethargy, decreased libido, hot/cold flashes, depression/anxiety, disordered sleep, and some damaging physical effects such as osteoporosis, amenorrhea in women and erectile dysfunction, and metabolic problems.

Many of these symptoms are commonly reported by opioid users both during active addiction and during recovery. For those in recovery, these symptoms may be misdiagnosed as depression or chalked up to post acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). If such a misdiagnoses occurs, health care professionals may simply suggest that the sufferer be patient as the body and brain regulate and adjust. And while an individual’s hormone levels may quickly return to normal levels after cessation of chronic opioid use, there is no harm in monitoring hormone levels so that a physician can take corrective action if it is deemed appropriate. Unfortunately, because OPIAD is not aggressively researched and discussed, it may be left to the patient to mention OPIAD with their health care provider.

Ibogaine can significantly help individuals starting their recovery after opioid use, through eliminating the majority of withdrawal symptoms and encouraging the body to stabilize faster, and helping an individual achieve the right frame of mind for recovery. Having healthy hormone levels can only further strengthen the likelihood for a successful transition to a life without exogenous opioids. Therefore, it is important to understand that OPIAD can affect chronic opioid users no matter which opioid they were using, and it is important that symptoms of malaise, depression, aching joints and low libido are not simply shrugged off as after-effects of drug use. A few simple hormone tests and, if needed, corrective measures taken, can help those in recovery to feel their best more quickly.

After your ibogaine detox program has been completed, the importance of getting the right aftercare which is a good fit for your situation cannot be over-stated. Part of the process of getting better and remaining stabilized during your physical and psychological transformation from a formerly drug-dependent individual to becoming someone who can look at life’s problems differently and handle what’s going to be coming at you, is doing everything possible to stack the deck in your favor. Having a healthy body provides the foundation for the whole process that’s unfolding post-ibogaine treatment.

Learning to take care of yourself post-ibogaine treatment, and establishing new, healthy patterns including getting daily physical exercise (which also significantly helps with restarting endogenous opioid production and endorphin release), nutraceutical therapy, and a diet that’s suitable for the individual in question, can all help provide a strong foundation for recovery, and help you maintain a drug-free state as you move forward on your path to recovery.

Ibogaine is a remarkably effective treatment that interrupts an individual’s state of active addiction, and places you back into a pre-addicted state, where you’re making choices again, instead of following nearly overwhelming compulsions. The goals of pre-care and aftercare, are to better help prepare individuals for drug detox with ibogaine, and then make productive use of the window of opportunity that ibogaine therapy provides. You will have a window of time that lasts approximately 3 months following administration of ibogaine, during which ibogaine’s long acting metabolite noribogaine is active within your system, helping alleviate cravings, and providing benefits similar to a highly-effective anti-depressant. It’s extremely important to make use of this time in the best manner possible, to ensure the least problems in your transition to living a happier and better life without resorting to self-medicating all your problems.

It’s important to keep in mind that when you visit Clear Sky Recovery, we will absolutely reset your drug dependence, but this is only one step in the series of lifestyle changes you’ll need to make in order to ensure a drug-free existence. In short, ibogaine will address your drug-dependence problem, but in and of itself, ibogaine cannot rewrite your entire life’s script, you need to work on this part, and it’s a lot easier with a support system in place that enhances your ability to navigate through the problems you’ll face as a newly-clean individual.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

Further Reading/References:

Testosterone suppression in opioid users: A systematic review and meta-analysis
Drug and Alcohol Dependence Vol 149, April 2015, pgs 1-9
Bawor, M., Bami, H., Dennis, B., et al.

The impact of opioids on the endocrine system.
Clin J Pain. 2009 Feb;25(2):170-5. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e3181850df6.
Katz N1, Mazer NA., et al.