One Couple’s Quest For The Sacred Iboga Medicine And Cure For Addiction

Elizabeth Bast and husband, Joaquin Lamar Hailey (aka Chor Boogie).


by Elizabeth Bast

on March 14, 2015

This story first appeared on yoginibast.

So I wrote a book. Or it wrote me, I should say…

Early in 2014, my beloved of six years, traversed life lessons and experienced a drug relapse after being clean for over 13 years. It was a heart-wrenching roller coaster. I feared for his life. I knew he needed immediate and powerful healing.

Most of the 13 years that he was off of heroin, he was completely sober. Then alcohol was reintroduced during the most recent couple years. I could see how the alcohol was wearing him down and weakening his light.

My love, Chor Boogie a.k.a. Joaquin Lamar Hailey, had garnered international recognition for his art, but he was working himself to the bone and partying too hard. He was a loose canon when drunk. Chaos embodied. I shivered for him.

On a dark, drunk night, he returned to the needle.

He confessed to me. I sensed a heavy, dark cloud over his mind, body, and spirit.

There was a hungry void in his eyes, waiting to be filled. Perpetually punctured. Lost.

I was terrified and filled with sorrow. He was wasting the gift of life.

I began a mission of research.

I was saddened to learn that heroin addicts generally have a 10% chance of long-term recovery without relapse in our Western medical system, even in the most luxurious rehabs costing $30,000 – $100,000 per month. At best, people can hope to transfer their addiction to equally toxic (though more stable and legal) options of synthetic opiates, morphine, methadone, and other pharmaceuticals.

The future did not look bright.

Then—I remembered that I had once heard vague details years ago about an obscure African sacred medicine called iboga that cured addiction, specifically heroin addiction, while alleviating withdrawal symptoms.

Beginning in the 1960s, scientific research revealed how it worked. This natural medicine resets the brain to the pre-addiction state. The receptor sites that relate to the pleasure centers of the brain and the release of dopamine are essentially baptized, among other complex actions. These receptor sites are freed from their attachment to the drug or opiate. The plant teacher can also invoke visionary journeys and deeper introspection about the root causes of addiction.

Unfortunately, this sacred plant is still illegal in the United States. Paradoxically, iboga is regarded as a national treasure in Gabon.

I knew this was extremely powerful medicine, and intuited that we needed a truly experienced guide. I found a healing retreat center and government licensed detox program in Costa Rica.

Chor courageously agreed to try this radical option, but there were many moments that I didn’t know if we would make it to the shaman in time.

The more I learned about iboga, the more that it called to me for my own spiritual and physical healing. I chose to experience the medicine alongside my love.

Cosmic forces seemed to aid in our journey. We were able to make it, and Chor offered his full participation. I saw a healing miracle unlike any in my life. Within 24 hours of the first treatment, Chor was a new man. He was completely purified of his cravings and physical dependence. His spirit returned to his eyes. Light returned to his face. The second ceremony in our 8-day retreat offered us teachings and guidance for a new path in life. I felt that this medicine responded to Chor’s strong and clear intention to choose life.

It wasn’t just Chor’s addiction that was purified. His whole life was purified, and our whole relationship as well. After we returned home, Chor and I began meditating together every morning. Chor started practicing yoga for the first time, intensively. He immediately became vegetarian and more conscious about eating an organic, healthy diet, when processed and fried meats had previously been the norm. He cultivated a whole new level of mental hygiene. He became an artist of his own thoughts and emotions, as much as he was an artist of spray-paint. Nature became alluring to him. He started joining me for long walks and hikes, marveling at the natural beauty, when before iboga he would roll out of bed onto his computer or into his studio for hours straight. He is a new man, literally.

I know that all the new practices, a healthy community, and the power of his own intentions helped Chor to experience success with iboga and to sustain his new, beautiful life.

A saying stays with me to this day: Addiction is Slavery. Be free and enjoy the gift of life.

I completed an intimate memoir about our journey called Heart Medicine: A True Love Story – One Couple’s Quest for the Sacred Iboga Medicine & the Cure for Addiction. The first chapter is freely offered on my website.

Chor and I created an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign running from March 16th to May 14th, 2015 to independently publish and promote the first run of this book. Perks will feature Chor’s recent iboga-inspired art; high-quality prints and original paintings on canvas. View the video:

Additional funds from the campaign’s stretch goals will support our iboga provider’s training. After experiencing our own healing miracle, we both felt the call to learn more and help others. We will dedicate this next year to studying this sacred medicine and the Bwiti tradition. We will one day be able to serve as iboga providers, in countries where this sacred medicine is legal,” says Elizabeth.

I discovered these alarming statistics that affirmed my intuition; the world is in dire need of more qualified iboga providers:

Drug overdose death rates have been steadily rising since 1992, with a 118% increase from 1999 to 2011 alone. (Center for Disease Control & Prevention)

In 2012, 183,000 drug related deaths occurred globally, mostly overdoses, with opioid overdose being the largest category. (The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2014 World Drug Report)

Methadone treatment and other kinds of “drug replacement therapies” can last between one to 20 years, or more. These legal drugs are known to be as toxic and addictive as heroin, though they are more stable than street drugs and can sometimes alleviate the dangers associated with the black market.

Iboga research has been increasing in recent years. For instance, MAPS-sponsored researchers are collecting observational data for the first prospective ibogaine outcome studies in order to contribute to the growing scientific literature about ibogaine as a treatment for drug addiction. Founded in 1986, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana.

Chor Boogie a.k.a. Joaquin Lamar Hailey is an internationally acclaimed spray-paint artist. His visionary murals and art exhibitions have graced many countries across the globe. He was recently honored by Societe Perrier as being number three among the Top Ten U.S. Street Artists of 2014. He approaches his use of color as a form of therapy and visual medicine, and has been dubbed “the color shaman” by comrades and fans.