Opiates are powerful analgesic drugs that exhibit potent biological activity. Physicians often prescribe them for brief periods following major surgeries or traumatic injuries.
The human body contains opioid receptor sites that are activated when naturally occurring endorphins, enkephalins, or dynorphins bind with the site to reduce pain. These chemicals are produced within the body during exercise, sex, when spicy foods are eaten, and when the body experiences excitement or pain.
Opiates are drugs obtained directly or indirectly from the opium poppy. Morphine and codeine are extracted directly from the poppy sap or “milk.” Heroin is a salt derivative of morphine, and drugs such as oxycodone, oxymorphone, naloxone, vicodin, and OxyContin are derivatives of an alkaloid known as thebaine that is also extracted from the poppy.
A portion of the surface of opiate molecules is very similar to the shape of the endorphin that binds opiate receptor sites. Opiates fit into the receptors just like a key fitting into a lock. This allows them to bind with the receptors in the body as if they were natural endorphins. In addition to eliminating pain, they also produce intense feelings of euphoria. These euphoric feelings often lead to abuse and the development of a dependency or addiction.
When used according to the instructions of the prescribing physician and for a limited period of time, opiates are safe and effective. If they are used for lengthy periods, or more frequently than recommended, a dependency or addiction can develop.
To break a dependency or addiction, all bound opiates must be removed from receptor sites and flushed from the body. This can be a lengthy, painful and frightening experience. Many clinics use ibogaine therapy for opiate detox. Ibogaine is a natural substance extracted from the African iboga plant. It is a mild hallucinogen that has been used medicinally and ritually by African spiritualists for generations.
Ibogaine replaces opiates at receptor sites and allows the opiates to be flushed from the body. Other chemicals have been used successfully to tie up these same receptors. Methadone is commonly used in treatment for heroin addiction, and suboxone is another replacement therapy drug for opiate addiction.
Ibogaine therapy is a better option for most people because the mild hallucinogenic property facilitates spiritual as well as physical healing. Many addicts will need this additional support during the transition back into a sober life. Ibogaine is a respected, holistic approach to opiate detox and rehabilitation.
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