Eight Questions with Zahra Adloo and How Her Vision for Ibogaine Shapes the Future of Addiction Treatment

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Photo courtesy of Zahra Adloo

Photo courtesy of Zahra Adloo

Addiction is a complex condition to treat as genetic, environmental, and psychological factors influence it. Traditional treatment methods include behavioral therapies, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and support groups, which are tailored to individual needs to help manage cravings, modify harmful behaviors, and repair social relationships.

Innovative treatments are emerging as the condition evolves, with Ibogaine treatment being one notable example. Zahra Adloo, a clinical psychotherapist and trauma and addiction specialist, runs a clinic that pioneers the safe, ethical, and effective use of Ibogaine. Her clinic, Zahra Adloo Therapy, treats individuals struggling with substance dependence, withdrawal symptoms, and cravings.

Adloo views Ibogaine, with its scientific properties, as an alternative treatment to addiction, offering not simply temporary relief but a fundamental step toward holistic healing and recovery.

In a recent interview with LA Weekly, Adloo discussed the potential of Ibogaine treatments. She shared insights from her experiences and outlined her vision for Zahra Adloo Therapy and the future of addiction therapy.

For those who aren’t familiar with Ibogaine, can you please briefly explain what it is and how it treats addiction, trauma, psychotherapy, and other conditions?

Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in the roots of the Tabernanthe iboga shrub from West Africa. It has a long history of use in spiritual ceremonies by indigenous groups. Ibogaine has gained attention in Western medicine for its potential in treating various conditions, particularly addiction.

Ibogaine affects several neurotransmitter systems simultaneously, making it unique among psychoactive substances. It primarily acts on the serotonin system, which influences mood and perception, but it also affects systems involved with dopamine and opioid neurotransmission.

Ibogaine is mainly known for its potential to treat substance addictions, including opiates, alcohol, and stimulants. It can significantly reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, which are significant challenges in overcoming addiction. Studies and anecdotal reports suggest that a single dose of Ibogaine can dramatically interrupt the addiction cycle for varying periods, giving individuals a critical window of relief in which to engage in further treatment and recovery efforts.


When did you start exploring and using Ibogaine in your practice? What motivated you to advocate for its benefit and establish Zahra Adloo Therapy?


I first learned about Ibogaine through a documentary I watched in graduate school titled “Dosed,” which detailed a heroin addict’s journey through recovery with the help of Ibogaine. Ironically, I watched this documentary just before starting my first internship at an intensive outpatient addiction treatment center called Odyssey in Salt Lake City, Utah. After completing my internship and graduating from my graduate program, I began working at another intensive outpatient facility in Encino, California, where I helped individuals with substance use disorders alongside comorbid mental health diagnoses.

After two years of working in this field, I became acutely aware of the “revolving door” of addiction treatment and the numerous attempts it often took for clients to break free from addiction—if they managed to do so at all, as some tragically passed away before achieving sobriety. This observation led me to champion the benefits of alternative treatments, including Ibogaine, as I saw a dire need for effective interventions that could provide real, lasting change.

Motivated by this need and equipped with the knowledge and experience I had gained, I decided to establish Zahra Adloo Therapy. My goal was to create a therapeutic environment that integrates innovative and traditional methods to offer more effective and compassionate treatment options for those struggling with addiction and related mental health issues.

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My health journey has also deeply influenced my professional path. I have overcome Stockholm syndrome and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), as well as complex PTSD from developmental trauma stemming from being raised by a narcissistic father. These personal experiences have not only given me unique insights into the complexities of psychological trauma and recovery but also a profound empathy for those facing similar struggles.

By incorporating Ibogaine treatment under careful medical supervision, I aim to provide our clients with a profound healing experience that addresses the root causes of their conditions, helping them on their journey to recovery and a better quality of life.

What is your goal at Zahra Adloo Therapy? What can patients expect from your treatments?


My primary goal is to provide comprehensive and personalized support for individuals undergoing Ibogaine treatment. I understand the potential of Ibogaine for addiction and depression, and I strive to offer a well-rounded and effective treatment experience.

Patients can expect these from the treatments:

  1. Four weeks of preparation: Before undergoing Ibogaine treatment, individuals will receive a four-week preparation session. This phase is crucial as it helps prepare both the mind and body for the intense experience that Ibogaine can provide. During this time, patients will receive detailed guidance on what to expect and how to prepare themselves best. They will undergo necessary medical evaluations to ensure safety during treatment.


  1. In-person treatment guidance in Mexico: During the Ibogaine treatment, I will be physically present with the patients in Mexico. This ensures that each individual receives direct support, supervision, and professional guidance throughout the process. My presence aims to provide reassurance, immediate response to any arising needs, and enhanced safety and effectiveness of the treatment.


  1. Four weeks of post-Ibogaine integration: After completing Ibogaine treatment, patients will engage in four weeks of post-treatment integration sessions with me. This phase will help individuals assimilate their experiences into their daily lives. It involves personalized support to address psychological, emotional, or physical aftereffects. The integration sessions are crucial for maximizing the benefits of Ibogaine treatment, providing ongoing support, and preventing relapse.


We also provide a monthly community integration group. No other Ibogaine clinic in the world is providing personalized care to this degree.

Your approach is notably toward holistic health. How do you believe this holistic method enhances the treatment experience for your clients?

Zahra Adloo’s integrative and holistic approach to health care significantly enhances the treatment experience for clients by addressing multiple dimensions of well-being — physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. By recognizing that health encompasses more than just the absence of illness, holistic therapy aims to treat the whole person.

Various factors, including environment, relationships, and lifestyle, are considered that might influence an individual’s health, thus providing a more comprehensive treatment plan. Central to this approach is a deep, therapeutic relationship between the client and the therapist, built on mutual respect, trust, and open communication. Making clients feel more supported and understood can enhance healing.

What challenges did you face integrating Ibogaine into your practice?


Incorporating Ibogaine into addiction therapy presents significant challenges, mainly due to its complex legal status and associated medical risks. As a Schedule I substance in many countries, including the United States, Ibogaine’s use, prescription, or possession is illegal. This necessitates practitioners to operate in countries where it is legal, like Mexico, complicating treatment logistics and limiting patient access.

Ibogaine poses considerable medical risks associated with its use. It can affect the heart by changing its rhythm and influencing other organ systems. To ensure patient safety, it is crucial to conduct thorough pre-treatment medical screenings, provide on-site medical supervision, and be prepared for emergencies, all of which demand extensive medical resources and expertise.

Accessing Ibogaine treatment involves considerable costs and travel, especially since it’s legal only in specific countries, raising concerns about equitable access across different population segments. The treatment’s effectiveness extends beyond the initial administration, relying significantly on comprehensive post-treatment care and integration therapies. These are crucial for helping patients apply insights gained during treatment and maintain long-term sobriety, but they require substantial resources to implement effectively.

Why should people not pass on the use of Ibogaine?


It can offer a unique and potentially life-changing opportunity for individuals struggling with substance use disorders. It’s especially crucial to consider the use of Ibogaine before hitting “rock bottom,” a stage where individuals often experience profound personal, financial, or legal losses due to their addiction.

Such can prevent severe consequences, and individuals are more likely to achieve a successful recovery and avoid the long-term damage of addiction. Early intervention can preserve relationships, professional standing, health, and financial stability.

What future developments do you hope to see in the regulatory and medical acceptance of Ibogaine as a treatment option?


I hope to see a re-evaluation of the current legal status of Ibogaine in the U.S. and other countries where it is currently classified as illegal or restricted. This could involve moving Ibogaine to a lower drug schedule, recognizing its medicinal value, and allowing controlled clinical trials.

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Raising awareness about Ibogaine’s benefits and potential applications could drive advocacy for policy changes and increased research funding. Educational campaigns and medical professional advocacy are key to this effort. As Ibogaine treatment varies in acceptance globally, international cooperation could help standardize regulations and safety protocols across borders, making it easier to conduct multinational studies and share findings.

What are your long-term goals for Zahra Adloo Therapy, and how do you plan to evolve the clinic’s services and treatments?


I aim to treat thousands of people, helping them overcome various mental health disorders and dependencies. This involves scaling up our treatment facilities and capabilities, possibly through establishing more treatment centers in locations where Ibogaine is legal and culturally accepted.

To multiply the impact, I plan on developing training and certification programs for other clinicians interested in working with Ibogaine and other plant medicines. These programs would cover everything from the pharmacology and therapeutic use of the plant to the ethical considerations and best practices for its use in therapy.

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