Shana Lisa Harris

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Central Florida, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9758

Approve Date

October 24, 2018

Project Title

Harris, Dr. Shana L., U. of Central Florida, Orlando, FL - To aid research on 'The Last Resort: Medical Travel and Drug Treatment with Ibogaine in Mexico'

SHANA L. HARRIS, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, was awarded funding in October 2018 to aid research on ‘The Last Resort: Medical Travel and Drug Treatment with Ibogaine in Mexico.’ In the US, drug treatment options are limited to twelve-step programs, therapeutic communities, and medication-assisted treatment. Yet many people find little or no long-term success with them, and some look for drug treatment abroad. This project is an ethnographic study of one alternative treatment program that utilizes a psychedelic called ibogaine. Derived from a Central African plant, ibogaine produces dream-like visions that last up to 24 hours. It is known as an ‘addiction interrupter’ because it can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms after one dose and is a tool for self-reflection about one’s addiction. Ibogaine, however, became illegal in the U.S. in 1967. As a result, drug treatment centers offering ibogaine proliferated in Mexico, where it is unregulated. These centers capitalize on their proximity to the US to attract Americans that want legal ibogaine treatment. This project examines the use of ibogaine at a treatment center in Baja California, Mexico, in order to understand how treatment is pursued, provided, and experienced. It highlights the multiplicity of experiences associated with this treatment, the role of medical travel in seeking and offering this treatment abroad, and the socio-structural factors that affect people seeking treatment and the provision of this form of care.