Iboga clinic attracts “Kardashian” celebrity, scrutiny from Costa Rica officials

March 19, 2015
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Can you hallucinate your way to sobriety? “Keeping up with the Kardashians” regular Scott Disick is about to find out.

The reality star Disick came to Costa Rica this week not for beaches and zip lining but rather a controversial rehab treatment. Kourtney Kardashian’s on-again-off-again beau and father of her three children checked into the Rythmia Life Advancement Center in Hacienda Pinilla, Guanacaste to try to conquer his alcoholism with shaman-guided trips using iboga, a root from West Africa outlawed in the United States.

Iboga and its chemical derivative, ibogaine, is not illegal in Costa Rica but the substance is also not regulated. The gray area occupied by the African root here has some drug officials concerned about possible health risks after Judicial Investigation Police have blamed at least one death on the drug.

The Rythmia Life Advancement Center claims that iboga is an effective alternative to treat a bevy of drug-related dependencies, from alcohol to crystal meth, as well as non-drug related struggles, like post-traumatic stress disorder, sex addiction and hepatitis C.

The drug classified as Schedule 1 by U.S. authorities is consumed as a tea or a capsule and can induce vomiting.

In one testimonial video on the center’s website, a man who introduces himself as Jack says that a 10-day treatment there cured his alcoholism.

“I feel great,” Jack says, “I’m looking forward to starting my life over again and getting home to my family and being the father and husband I should have been.”

The price of an iboga treatment at the Rythmia clinic ranges from $999 to $1299 a day for programs that range from seven to 21 days, according to a quote the company’s Malibu, California office sent to The Tico Times.

Guillermo Araya, director of the Costa Rican Drug Institute (ICD), an arm of the Presidency Ministry, told The Tico Times that his office was concerned about the lack of oversight at the country’s self-described iboga clinics. In 2014, ICD informed the Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse that at least four businesses were offering iboga treatments in Guanacaste.

The Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) confirmed to the daily La Nación that a Norwegian tourist, Vente Soldberg, died in 2014 from a heart attack related to consuming ibogaine at a clinic called Iboga House. Iboga House closed afterwards and has since merged with Rythmia Life Advancement Center.

No word yet as to whether or not cameras will be following Disick down the rabbit hole.

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