My name is Spero Alexio and I am the psychotherapist who conducts group therapy sessions at Holistic House. Although I am an accomplished therapist with extensive training in both psychology and psychiatric social work, I was unprepared for remarkable changes I witnesses in post Ibogaine clients who continued their treatment at Holistic House. My first encounter with Ibogaine clients took place about a year ago when Justin Hoffman started bringing his residents to a SMART recovery meeting I facilitate here in Las Vegas. I noticed that the Holistic House clients were surprisingly optimistic, alert and hopeful regarding their lives and prospects for recovery. Surprising because they had just recently detoxed from a variety of highly addictive substances, most often some form of opiate, but also benzodiazepines, suboxone (which is a nasty detox), methadone and alcohol.
By comparison, the attendees at the SMART meeting who were enrolled in a more traditional treatment modality- either inpatient or in an IOP program were lethargic, uncertain of the efficacy of their treatment and not particularly hopeful. If I could describe the difference in a visual way; the Ibogaine clients were skipping along in recovery with a smile on their faces while the traditional treatment clients were trudging along with fear in their eyes.
As someone who often works with individuals who do not respond well to AA or conventional rehabs, I was intrigued and began studying this plant medicine phenomena. At the same time, I was both skeptical and ignorant as to what Ibogaine had done for these people who had gone to Mexico often times as a last resort.
So here are some of my clinical observations after working with the residents of Holistic House for the past six months. First, I had to determine how I could counsel these clients. Would the skills I had as a therapist translate to meeting the needs of these clients? As always, I proceeded with the most important aspect of therapy, without which there will be little progress. I listened to their Ibogaine experiences, their past struggles with treatment failure, their hopes dreams and desires. This is called developing a therapeutic alliance and it is an essential element to counseling any client.
Next, I had to deal with the fact that some of residents at Holistic House felt so good that they believed that they no longer had addiction. Ibogaine isn’t a cure for addiction. It is a phenomenal detox agent that also provides great insight coupled with what can only be described as a spiritual experience. In addition, Ibogaine seems to dissolve deep traumas that often underlie and perpetuate drug use. Regardless of all these remarkable qualities of Ibogiane, the addictive illness is still present, but in remission.
The clinical task is- how do you explain this to an Ibogaine client who is now feeling bullet proof? Of course you can counsel them that it's not a very good idea based on what has happened to others. The learned associations related to someone particular addiction will surface once the person encounters the conditioned triggers (cues) consistent with their addiction. These are the “People, Places and Things” along with emotional states and thoughts that someone associates with their particular addiction. Each person has a unique set of conditioned responses that can trigger their addiction. So it is up to the individual to explore what they are and how to deal with them. And also to recognize that their drug use had an identifiable pattern. “:What is your pattern? Is the important question because behavior repeats in human beings. And I’m not talking about the actually drug taking itself, but the preceding thoughts behaviors and circumstances. It’s helpful to explain the neurobiology of conditioned responses and how that old neighborhood has literally hundreds if not thousands of reminders of drug use. At this point, the Ibogaine client is starting to doubt the wisdom of returning home right away. Some will listen to this and alter their plans, while others might think they are the exception.
My approach is a work in progress, but there are some pieces that are falling into place. I start by asking If there were ever periods of sobriety due to rehab, jails, church, 12 step meetings or enlightened best interest? We slowly identify all the factors that played into their drug use. I’m more interested in the breakdown that leads to a lapse and less interested in the event of drug use. Some of this information is just below awareness so it takes a little work to get at it. This is the essence of Relapse Prevention work pioneered by Terry Gorski and Alan Marlatt. By the way, both of those addiction treatment icons were scoffed at 30-40 years ago when they presented their work. Terry once told me that he was booed of a stage by an audience of AA members and treatment professionals for suggesting that “hitting bottom” was a false notion. Anyway, identification of all the people, places, things and emotional states then forms a pattern the client can use as a blueprint for their particular addictive illness.
I help them understand that there is a direct use for meditation and learning a relaxation response as the perfect counter to intense drug urges. They begin to realize that relaxing your way through urges is more useful than fighting them…which has never worked. My new favorite line to illustrate this “you can’t be in a relaxed meditative state and be in an intense urging state at the same time- it’s like trying to stand up and sit down at the same time. It’s one or the other.”
There’s much more involved with counseling the Ibogaine client, of course…. A trans-personal approach is unavoidable as the client begins to integrate and make sense of spiritual experiences and insights. I often ask them to practice a detached view of their lives- a perspective that allows one to realize that they are not their behaviors. Behaviors can be neutralized if they aren’t viewed as being part of someone’s essence. Another distinction I draw is between the “authentic self” and the “drug addict persona.” And asking which persona is talking at a particular time. And I’ve only just begun working with this population….
I facilitate a SMART recovery meeting here in Las Vegas and have the Holistic House clients attend every week. SMART is mostly a cognitive behavioral approach which stresses the importance of taking full responsibility for recovery and maintain balance in all areas of life. And yes, most of these clients abhor the 12-step approach because of repeated treatment failure and negative associations, or the reliance on God to cure their addictive illness. Ironic since most Ibogaine clients sense and want to develop their spirituality. It is also apparent to me that some Ibogaine clients could benefit from attending AA or NA, especially since these fellowships provide camaraderie, support and instant friendships.
A Grateful Parent: Cyndi Belmont
1/2017 Ibogaine saved my sons life...opiate heroin addiction had led my son to enter rehab after rehab for the last 10 years. To say we were desperate would be a understatement. My son was dying from addiction and we were desperate to help save his life.
To Justin, Mark, Greg and Sandra, we are eternally grateful. Due to the ibogaine experience with the Medicine Heart Recovery team and immediate aftercare treatment with Justin, for the 1st time in 10 years, my 25 yr old son was sober and ready for fresh start in life.
Michael and Heidi
Justin we want to thank you and your entire staff on the amazing transformation we have seen in our son.
He has been to several rehab centers over the past 5 years with no results . After leaving your care he
seems like a different person more focused. It is a great weight off our shoulders knowing that those late
calls are not the local authorities notifying us that our son has overdosed. We realize he will need continual
support in the years to come but you have given him and us a great advantage in his recovery. It is a joy to
hear our son laugh and joke and be motivated once again.
Thank you for your continual support in Elliotts recovery .
(Two grateful parents)
In August 2016 we were enduring a weeklong intervention with our son. He was finally ready to go back to rehab, having just hit yet another bottom in his 8 year battle with opioids, heroin, crack and drug courts. I was literally at my wits end trying to secure him a bed in a detox/rehab facility and battling with Aetna insurance for a commitment to a rehab and not just a detox. The insurance/rehab facility scam is a maddening experience for a sober, tenacious and well educated advocate but is hopeless for an addict to navigate alone. My wife told me about a segment she saw on TV’s Viceland channel about a man named named Justin Hoffman, who had a different approach to rehab and addiction treatment, and he even gave out his cell phone number. I was excited to have another option to explore, yet very doubtful of ever actually reaching this Justin, or being able to place my son in his facility given my experience with supply and demand for beds. I called the number and Justin answered the phone – I was shocked and couldn’t believe that he actually answered the call! He spent an hour with me discussing the situation and his plan for our son, telling me to give our addict to him for 30 days and he will give us our son back. I was in tears because this was the first time in several days of research and phone calls that anyone had offered us a plan let alone any hope of even getting him into rehab. Given our situation this was certainly a leap of faith and a drastic move for us, however, we had no reasonable options and this plan Justin laid out made sense to us and was hopeful.
Justin and his team were in regular communication with us during the Ibogaine treatment and during his stay at Holistic House, giving us hope, advising of progress, and reassuring us that our son was safe and sound. For a parent of an addict in treatment, these phone calls from Justin were so very welcome and much appreciated. Spero Alexio has also been a valuable resource for both us and our son, Spero's counseling has provided us all with much comfort and understanding through the journey.
Fast forward to Christmas 2016, our most precious gift was our son who is not only clean and sober but is thriving and happy and continues to be in daily contact with Justin and his team. We opted for a two month stay at HH and we believe it was necessary because, despite the progress in one month, he was still not prepared to reengage with the challenges of the real world.
Holistic House can be described as a boutique program that hosts only a few clients each month. The individual attention from Justin and his team combined with their unique counseling sessions, personal nurturing, healing approach and daily activity including hiking, exercise and yoga were key ingredients to our son’s successful recovery. The prerequisite Ibogaine treatment was absolutely a huge factor in the recovery process. The Medicine Heart Ibogaine experience immediately opened up our son’s soul to the possibility of success and enabled an expedited detox allowing a more productive rehab. We are forever grateful to Justin and Holistic House and after 4 months of sobriety our entire family is healing and hopeful for a future with our son that for many years did not seem possible. Our daily prayers are with our son and Holistic House. We thank God every day for Justin Hoffman, he indeed brought our son back to us.
Justin is fair, honest and compassionate and he has an approach that works. We encourage anyone who is considering alternative addiction treatment to call Justin right now.
My son Garret has been a heroin addict for the last eight years. the last few years he had added meth and other drugs to his addiction. I didn't know how much longer he would live. He has gone to several traditional 12 step programs and has relapsed almost immediately. We heard about holistic house and that Justin could help. I was skeptical because it sounded so strange but I needed to give Garret one last chance to get his life back. He left in October and has been sober since. It's the only thing that has worked. Justin's approach and the way he runs his program is a solid way back into society. Even though my son still has a lot of work to do I'm so thankful to Justin and his program to have my son back. I finally have hope that he can have a normal life.
Thank you Justin for all you do.
Hey guys! It's *******
I hope all is going well with you guys!
Wanted to take time to tell you guys thank you so much for everything you guys did for me in Mexico! I came home for the holidays and decided to stay here in NY. I remember you guys telling me down there to follow my heart and I did. I finally let go of all those fears that I had and I can truly say that I'm at peace with my myself and the universe. Little by little I'm getting to fix all the wrong I've done in my life through my period of darkness. It's the first time in my life I'm truly happy at heart and like I kept saying during the Ibogaine and after it, i don't know where life is gonna take me but I know everything is going be just fine, and god was that feeling right. I'm back in the place that I thought I could never be back at, and everything is so different and I don't feel any of the anxiety from before. It's all thanks to what you guys and Justin did for me. I haven't seen my family this happy in such a long time and they can't even believe it themselves. They see me healthy and happy and they are astonished just like myself haha.
My gratitude with you guys cannot be put into words and I know that we all meet in this life for a reason and i cannot be thankful enough for our paths crossing. So much love and respect for you guys, and I'm always a call away for whatever you guys need.
I love you guys and wishing you the best in this holiday season!
I had the opportunity to spend a little time with (*******)(sons name withheld) yesterday and we spent some time reflecting on his journey over the last several years through six rehab facilities, countless sober homes, and ultimately being treated with ibogaine twice and his stay at Holistic House. As the person who paid the bills, was given the sales pitch from all the rehab facilities and sober homes, and as the person who was on the phone with them when I had a concern, I can't express to you strongly enough how much I appreciate your honesty, integrity and compassion with your clients. You are absolutely the only person who would see a need with (*******), care enough to call me to tell me that you thought he would benefit from a certain treatment, be honest about the cost, and follow through with the treatment. I know you already know this, but I have to say it again - you can't imagine what it means to us parents who have been taken advantage of over, and over, and over again, to come across a Justin Hoffman after we have been worn down by "the system" of rehab facilities and sober homes who make promises, but never deliver!! This little note is long, overdue, surely won't adequately express my true appreciation, or be eloquent, as I wished to be! Life has gotten in the way of my good intentions of sending this in a timely manner. Just know that you have lifelong family here in Texas. (*******) is doing well. He is working for the Senate, and will probably be getting his own place for this first time in January!! Thank you, thank you, for everything you did; and everything you continue to do for others -- Jan Zurovec
Julian Mesa • 3 months ago
A year and five months I came to Justin and my life has changed ever since. After battling with addiction for many years, he was able to show me that there's an exit to addiction, and that we can reach our natural optimal state in body, mind, and spirit. No otber treatment facility had done what justin has done for me. From the second I got to his house, he took me under his care and through natural medicines and different modalities he was able to take away the lifestyle i had for so long, and even was able to take away some of the illnesses with which I dealt with. What he is doing is a different approach to addiction recovery methodology that's currently established, and it's 10000x more effective than anything I had tried before. Just like his uncle Abbie Hoffman, he's taking the necessary steps to have society realize that there needs to be change. Justin is changing the world by saving the lives of many that never thought they could escape their addiction. Yes these things might seem odd and crazy because we are so trained to believe that everything that a doctor prescribes us is the absolute best for us, but we fail to see the negative results that come with it. I'm so happy to see that a person is taking the time and effort to show people that our system is failing us, and showing the positive effects of his approach to the battle that so many of us struggle with. I'm even more proud to have had the opportunity to join his team and change the life of others like he did with mine. Him and Tishara are amazing people that were put on this earth to show change, I could never be grateful enough for what they've done and keep on doing for everyone . If you're ready to make the change of a lifetime, please do not hesitate to contact justin because when it comes to saving lives, he's one of the best at it.
Health Insurance Agent• 3 months ago
I just spent a week with Justin and his amazing staff. My initial plan was just to escape and detox on my own with a hope that they could ease my symptoms. Well not only did they ease it, I left there with no acute withdrawal. I got home just a re days ago and am still in shock by his approach and moreover his genuine caring. I would be doing a disservice if I didn't mention how amazing his staff is as well. Every single one added a different element to my recovery. I arrived with an odd assortment of prescriptions and left with none. I also left feeling spirituality that I didn't even know I had in me. The patients were also all so kind and helpful and boosted me up when I was down. My family noticed right away the change in me and I am still having a hard time that after all this time, I am prescription free. They are genuine healers and the property is beautiful and clean. I only wish I had done it sooner. They saved me and my marriage.
Mark Winkle • 3 months ago
Ive been working With Justin Hoffman now for two years , he is hands down the best at what he does , which is show people there is another way .
Medicine Heart Recovery
Shaney C • 3 months ago
I spent many years watching my husband destroy himself through alcohol abuse. As the stronghold of his addiction became increasingly tighter, he tried multiple AA-based recovery programs in efforts to free himself. He was desperate and in such a dark place. We were both beginning to feel hopeless. That is, until we heard about Holistic House from a friend that had been through the program and had successful results. All the programs my husband had previously tried were covered by our health insurance and we were nervous about the cost of Holistic House. But, in my mind, I would much rather spend the money this one time and have my husband alive than watch him slowly killing himself. My husband went through the full program provided by the Holistic House. His spent a few days at the Medicine Heart Recovery center in Mexico and then 30 days at the Holistic House. Needless to say, Justin's method works! From the first moment that I saw my husband after the treatment in Mexico, I knew he was a completely changed person. We are coming up on his one year sobriety anniversary and he is the amazing person that I always knew was hiding underneath the dark cloud of addiction. Since going through the program, he no longer glorifies or craves alcohol. This is saying a lot because my husband works in the nightlife industry. I can sleep at night knowing that he's not going to drive drunk or come home completely wasted. He says "alcohol is poison. It was holding me back from accomplishing my goals." He's remains positive and healthy while working towards his dreams on a daily basis. After seeing friends and my husband go through the program provided by the Holistic House, I know for a fact that it works. Society has trained us to think that AA-based programs are the only available treatments for addiction and anything else is just voodoo. This is simply not true.
Greg S. Carroll • 3 months ago
Having a safe place to land after coming out of an Ibogaine treatment is one of the most important aspects of the recovery process and Holistic House is exactly that place. All of the treatments and activities they offer are very effective in helping people integrate into their lives. Holistic House is revolutionary in it's approach while at the same time competitive in the overall cost. It's clear that the work Hoffman and his staff provide is from the heart.
Thank you for all that you do!
Greg S. Carroll
Ava Rose • 3 months ago
It's been over four months now, and I'm living proof that these modalities saved my life. Justin Hoffman walked me step by step through my precare for ibogaine, picking me up from ibogaine, and then a two week stay in a traditional detox for benzodiazepines I didn't even know I was addicted to, where he called the doctors each day and came to visit me to ensure I was safe. This treatment at Holistic House really is revolutionizing the world of addiction, mental illness and more importantly for me, years and lifetimes of trauma. During my stay at Holistic House I did kambo frog medicine 7 times, and it cured a cancer causing virus I had which is said to never turn up negative on a test once contracted, yet it did turn up negative leaving my doctors baffled. All of the deep work I did with Kambo and Tishara Cousino was so deep, it's as if my cells are all brand new in my body. During my stay, Tishara helped me immensely with my process and has become an amazing woman whom I look up to and hold dear to my heart. My body, mind and soul are now pure; I have my innocence, confidence and integrity back. I was in a motorcycle accident a year ago which began my addiction to pain medication after being clean off of these toxic pharmaceuticals for quite some time. Ibogaine knocked out the addiction to the point where I could not even remember how it felt to be on opiates anymore upon waking from the journey. One thing that is not mentioned in this article is the sacred toad venom, 5meoDMT, which was a gamechanger for me. During my Journey with the toad medicine I watched my pain body leave. These medicines really do work, I am now going on 5 months without ANYTHING, after being prescribed toxic medications for over 10 years. Justin is truly an angel who helped me save my life by showing me how. During my stay with Justin he worked one on one to make sure I would make it, not just by scraping by, but REALLY make it. Now, I have moved across the country am working with an amazing doctor and am on my way to accomplishing my dream of attending medical school. I also went to Medicine Heart Recovery for a week long retreat. During my stay I worked on issues I didn't even know I had, and was truly healed by Native American shamans and an angel by the name of Sandra Krumm from Argentina. I've discovered many gifts I didn't know I had, and this experience has been life changing to say the least, and by far the best decision I ever made. #revolutionary