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The drug ibogaine might cure addiction. But it's illegal in the U.S.

Nearly 40 years ago, regulators ended research into the powerful psychedelic drug ibogaine, which some scientists say can cure substance abuse disorders. Now federal researchers are considering allowing new studies.

Ibogaine is made using an African root. It causes what most users call a hellish, traumatic trip — lasting up to 24 hours — through forgotten memories and past trauma.

In other words, it’s not the kind of drug that people become addicted to or even opt to take a second time. The small studies and thousands of patients who have been treated with it, however, say a single well-supervised dose is enough to end dependency on drugs like crack cocaine and opioids. Ibogaine has also been shown to cause cardiac arrest, which is why it’s illegal in the U.S.

New York Times reporter Andrew Jacobs has done extensive research and reporting into ibogaine and joins host Robin Young to talk about the renewed interest in it as the number of opioid deaths in the U.S. continues to rise.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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