April 14th, 2022
OF THE PSYCHEDELIC LEADERSHIP PODCAST
Narcissistic Guides, Reframing Addiction & Ibogaine Treatment For Opioid Dependence With Juliana Mulligan
In this episode, Juliana Mulligan shares her remarkable journey from opioid dependency, and incarceration, to a path of healing with the help of Ibogaine treatment. After a near-death experience at the hands of an unsafe and unregulated ibogaine provider, Juliana is now an advocate for harm reduction and safe use of ibogaine and supports people in the preparation and integration of ibogaine treatments.
“There’s a lot of talk of psychedelics and ego dissolution and reducing narcissistic traits, I actually see a lot of people’s narcissistic traits get enhanced and their ego get potentiated.”
About This Episode:
From the depths of opioid dependency, incarceration, and a near-death experience at the hands of an unsafe and unregulated ibogaine provider, Juliana Mulligan is a testament to how even during the most challenging, darkest of times, we can find a pinhole of light that leads to our purpose. Juliana shares her amazing yet harrowing journey through recovery, into healing, and how she found her calling to help others in their path to healing with sacred plant medicines. She has become an expert in Ibogaine and harm reduction, trained under leaders in the space, and worked in three different clinics assisting others in preparing for, working with, and integrating this immensely powerful alkaloid found in the African shrub known as Tabernanthe iboga.
Juliana lays out the essential information that you need to know if you are considering working with this transformational, yet potentially life-threatening medicine. She shares three of the main red flags you should consider before working with anyone administering this medicine and speaks to the unfortunate yet common tendency for people with the deepest wounds to step into facilitation.
She speaks to the traditional use of Iboga by the practitioners of Bwiti in Gabon Africa, and the much-needed conservation work that is going on to fight the illegal poaching and western demand for Ibogaine.
Explored in this episode:
Episode 49 Full Transcript: Narcissistic Guides, Reframing Addiction & Ibogaine Treatment For Opioid Dependence with Juliana Mulligan
Laura Dawn: Welcome Juliana. It’s such a pleasure to be able to spend some time with you today and drop in with you. It was so nice to see you in real time in person at Horizons back in December. So, thank you so much for taking the time to drop in with me here today.
Juliana Mulligan: Yeah, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to have this conversation with you and be a part of a long line of amazing people you’ve had on the podcast.
Laura Dawn: Thank you so much. I would really love to start by giving you the space to share your truly remarkable story and the journey you’ve been on that has led you to do the very important work that you’re doing today. So, I really just want to give you as much space as you need to really share that journey and that story with my audience.
Juliana Mulligan: Sure. Yeah, I’m happy to tell that story. It’s a big part of my work and why I do the work that I do. So, I’m a former opioid dependent person and formerly incarcerated. I spent the first seven years of my twenties going through all of the kind of typical things that people go through as someone who’s dependent on opioids in this country. So, going to rehab, going to jail. Being homeless, being beaten up, being on Suboxone, being on methadone, 12 step programs, kind of like that whole rigamarole. The treatment system in the U.S was really traumatizing for me. Because of the disease concept and the one size fits all mentality of mainstream drug treatment which tells you that you’re sick for life. You have a brain disease and there’s nothing you can do about it. That never sat right with me, but I didn’t know that there were other ways to think about these concepts. Because it was always pushed onto me that if you have a problem with drugs, this is the only way to work on it. This is the only way to view this issue and so I just felt really uninspired and discouraged by this way of looking at substance dependence. So, I tried kind of all the typical things, went to multiple rehabs.
Finally after seven years I was living in Bogota, Colombia, and I was teaching English. I had discovered that I could get whatever drugs I wanted from the pharmacy. So, I was like having a heyday with that and actually that’s kind of what helped me realize that I wanted to be done with opioids. Because I finally had as much as I wanted which usually for most people that aren’t super wealthy in this country. It’s always like you can’t get enough. It’s always, if I can only have more. So, I finally had that in Columbia because I had this pharmacy access and I got to have as many opiods as I wanted and I realized that it sucked and then I was really lonely and miserable and I wanted to get off. So, I had heard about Ibogaine a few years before that from a friend who was super nerdy about psychedelics. When I first found out about, Ibogaine, I wanted to do it, but just didn’t have the resources at the time. So, when I really was at the end of my rope in Bogota, I decided like, I think that this is it. I think I need to do Ibogaine. I was at first going to order it and do it myself, which thank God a friend who knew nothing about Ibogaine, talked me out of doing that. I was really reluctant to tell my family what was going on. Because I had already put them through so much, but I did. I told my mom and she was to my surprise, a hundred percent on board with Ibogaine. I found a clinic in like a couple of days in Guatemala and I was on a plane to Guatemala in less than a week. So, I left my life in Columbia and I never went back and I went to Guatemala. So, the guys that treated me, we have kind of a phenomenon in the Ibogaine community of these like mad scientists, cowboy type personalities. Who think that they’ve been given special gifts to administer Ibogaine and are not necessarily safe and aren’t necessarily receptive to feedback. But maybe their heart’s in the right place and so I ended up with a couple of these type of guys and I didn’t know this too much later, but they were not following safety protocols whatsoever. I was coming to them on a really high dose of fentanyl. They told me I had the highest tolerance they’d ever treated. I was also like 110 pounds. So, that was saying a lot. Usually with, Ibogaine, you have to stabilize someone, especially somebody with a high tolerance, for a number of days. You don’t treat someone who’s done fentanyl in the last 10 days. Because of the way it sticks around in your system. These guys, though, they started giving me, Ibogaine 24 hours after I arrived. So, no stabilization period whatsoever. They were giving me Ibogaine, my withdrawal wasn’t going away, which is what usually happens with Ibogaine. So, they kept giving me more and come to find out later they did not measure the doses. Because the guy that treated me thought that he had a magical, intuitive sense of how much to give me. This is not something you can play around with. Ibogaine, now we can get into this more later, but there’s cardiac side effects.
You have to be very exact and precise about what you’re doing and very, very careful. So, they ended up giving me about double the amount of Ibogaine that’s safe to give anyone. What happened was I started to have a really scary looking EKG, which is what often happens when you mis-administer Ibogaine or you don’t follow the protocols. So, they rushed me to a hospital. It was like a state Guatemalan hospital. That hospital turned me away because they had never heard of Ibogaine. I was like this 27 year old woman who, you know, seemed healthy otherwise, what are they talking about? I have an arrhythmia or something on with my EKG. So, they sent us away. We went to a second hospital that sent us away. Mind you, these hospitals were like packed. It was like a war zone in there. So, they just kind of didn’t have time for us. So, we got to the third hospital. They kept me for a few hours until the EKG kind of looked better and sent us home. We got back to the clinic, EKG got much worse. I was going into a deadly rhythm called torsades. That pretty much always ends in cardiac arrest unless you have an intervention. So, we rushed to a fourth hospital, which also was about to send us away until I hit the floor in the emergency room. That was my first of six cardiac arrests that I had to be defibrillated and resuscitated out of. So, they finally took us seriously of course, and after the sixth cardiac arrest, I think it was in a 24 hour period. They put me on an external pacemaker. Because what Ibogaine does is it, it blocks something called the potassium channel and doesn’t allow your heart to conduct electricity properly. Which is temporary, once Ibogaine enters your system, there’s no damage long-term damage to my heart. It was just that I began interfering with its functioning. So, I got put on this external pacemaker for a couple of weeks and I was in the ICU in Guatemala. This all sounds really crazy. But when I came out of bed. I kind of didn’t care what had happened. I was really fixated on the fact that I wasn’t in opiod withdrawal. As an opioid user who had been through countless cold turkey detoxes, and just basically living my life for seven years, running from withdrawal all the time and being half in withdrawal half of the time to come off of the biggest habit I’ve ever had in my life and to not be sick, I couldn’t believe it. It was astounding.
My mom told me that I kept telling her on the phone, I’m not in withdrawal, I’m not in withdrawal. Yeah, that was amazing to me and the other thing was that I felt that a huge weight had been lifted off of me. I didn’t feel any of the shame or guilt that I had felt before for all the years that I had been fucked up. I felt excited about life and the biggest thing was that I knew in that moment that it was my duty to do whatever I could to change the mainstream addiction treatment system. To change the way people view people who use drugs and the misunderstanding of what you know, so-called addiction really is. The other thing that I felt was Ibogaine was the future for opioid treatment. I want to work with this. So, I was kind of like off on my mission. I was fired up and it was the first time in my life that I felt like I had a purpose. What was great about this purpose is that it means that all those years that I thought I was wasting and screwing up were actually my training to do the work I was supposed to do. So, suddenly I just felt liberated from all of these chains that society had put on me around my drug use and it made complete sense. So, the fact that I had had this medical emergency was like, well, you know that’s okay because I feel great now. Well come to find out a year later when I went to my first Ibogaine conference, I realized that they weren’t following the safety protocols whatsoever and that it was a completely avoidable situation. So, the good part about this is that it’s made me really fixated on safety protocols and ethics in Ibogaine treatment. People tend to listen up when I talk about it because of what happened to me. So, that’s the pro of that but that’s basically what happened to me, that was in 2011. Ever since I’ve been doing various things related to Ibogaine treatments. That’s that segment of my story. At least the beginning.
Laura Dawn: Okay. That’s such a remarkable story and I think this is a good place to pause. Because you’ve mentioned really feeling passionate about rewriting the narrative around addiction and opioid dependency. So, can we just unpack that a little bit for people who are listening and they’re thinking, what is she actually talking about? What is the old or current narrative and what paradigm and new narrative are you trying to help introduce into our mainstream culture now?
Juliana Mulligan: Yes. So, the mainstream narrative is that addiction is a brain disease and there’s no cure and you have it for the rest of your life and there’s nothing you can do about it. Most people also think that the only treatment is going to 12 step programs and admitting you’re powerless and going through those steps and you have to keep going to these meetings or else you’re gonna die, end up in jail or end up in an institution. So, that is not what I’m into anymore. The issue with this, well, let me just start by saying, I work in a harm reduction psychotherapy center here in New York City called The Center For Optimal Living. We approach things very different. First of all, the brain disease concepts doesn’t even make sense. It doesn’t qualify as a disease whatsoever. Actually the guy that came up with that theory was proven to be a charlatan later on in life. There was no scientific backing. I think it was just society just needed something. Needed an explanation because the original notion was that drug use is a moral failing. We realized that wasn’t right. So, at the time, actually addiction as a disease was like a progressive step forward. But now we’re realizing that that doesn’t make sense either. That actually, when you tell someone that they have a disease that can’t do anything about it, it eliminates the possibility of exploration, of the very complex reasons that people do substances. Because it’s actually quite meaningful.
People are using substances for really big, important reasons and experiences and things that they’ve survived in their life. So, harm reduction really allows for an exploration of all those unique factors. The other thing about the mainstream disease concepts is that it holds people hostage in one place. It doesn’t allow for the fact that we are all constantly evolving and changing beings. Once we address certain aspects of ourselves, we might not reach for substances in the same way. I don’t reach for substances in the same way at all anymore. Because I don’t feel that urgency to escape out of my body. I used to be desperate to turn off how I felt. I don’t want to do that at all anymore. I actually really like being here and that’s because I’ve done therapeutic work. So, this isn’t to say that like, oh, eventually I’m going to use heroin recreationly, it would be fine. Like, no, I don’t want anything to do with that drug because it’s like super sedating and doesn’t, I have just no connection to it anymore. But it does mean that I can have a glass of wine and nothing happens, and maybe that’s not going to be the case for everybody. But for me, I don’t use substances to numb myself out anymore and I can leave them or take them. This is like a revolutionary concept for people that have been super indoctrinated into 12 step that tells you, you can never touch anything again, it’s going to be a disaster. So, I think that there is an infinite amount of possibilities for each person and the traditional concepts of addiction don’t really allow for that. The other thing that I want to emphasize is that there has been this imaginary line drawn between people who struggle with drugs and everybody else, and it doesn’t make any sense. Because every single person on this planet has a destructive behavior at some point in their life that they use as a coping mechanism. Whether that’d be shopping, whether that’d be sex, relationships, gambling, workaholism, and some of these are glorified within capitalism. So, what it comes down to is which destructive habit actually works within capitalism in which doesn’t okay. So, being a heroin user, most of the time does not benefit capitalism, but if you’re a workaholic, it does.
So, why are we adhering to this line from a toxic system telling us that these disruptive behaviors are okay because it makes you productive. But these destructive behaviors are a problem because it takes away from your productivity. I am not participating in the drawing of that line anymore. I would argue that every single person on this planet could qualify as having an addiction at some point in their life. What I think it is, is it’s really one, the underlying mental health issues that people have. Like, when people say, oh, does this clinic do addiction treatment? Or does it focus on like, psychospiritual, there’s not really a difference between these issues. It’s just the differences in how society treats them. It’s to me, the reason that people use drugs suffer more than everybody else is because of the stigmatization of societies, because of the criminalization. It’s because we’ve made it incredibly unsafe to be a drug user. But we’ve made it really safe to be an alcohol user. We’ve made it very safe to be a chronic shopper and a workaholic. So, for me, I really want to work towards erasing this line and designating people who use drugs as especially sick because it’s a society created problem.
Laura Dawn: I really, really appreciate that perspective. It also makes me think of Gabor Monty’s work, who I’m curious if his work has had a meaningful inspiration in your life. When you look at the core, as someone who has also struggled with debilitating addiction in my own life, a lot of times I can see the core was rooted in unworthiness or not good enough or disconnection and isolation. What would you say are some of those core aspects that really drive people to reach for substances?
Juliana Mulligan: So, I think that the original wound for many of us and especially most people who struggle with addictive tendencies is that we’ve been told since we were young, that what we think and feel is wrong. Our parents do this to us. Society does this to us. You know, we say, suck it up and keep working. That’s the whole ethos of capitalism and modern capitalism. So, we learned to shove our feelings down. We learn to turn off. We learn not to listen to our intuition because we have to do our homework, because we have to keep going to school. Or for whatever reason people are telling us, like, no, no stop crying. Just, you know, you need to go and sit with your grandmother, even if you don’t want to, you need to. You need to get to school at seven in the morning, even if you’re feeling terrible, it’s like, there’s no true exploration of how children feel in many family systems. So, this original wound of what you think and feel is wrong gets perpetuated when people go for treatment for addiction. Because you get told what you think and feel is wrong and you’re powerless, and you need to listen to us and submit to this program. It’s like you know, it’s reinforcing that original wound. It’s perpetuating, it’s retraumatizing it. Actually in harm reduction, what we do is we prioritize the goals of the person.
We value what their goals are. We value what feels right for them and so it’s a re empowering. I really think that this is what people need, but I do think that this original wound of what you think and deal is wrong. This wound of like you know, I think being told from when you’re a kid, that your value is how you do in school. I think that’s awful that children are really made to feel that their entire value is based on their performance in a school system. That was modeled after Nazi Germany to make soldiers, it’s really, not a system that welcomes creative, unique children whatsoever. So, if you don’t do well in that system, something’s wrong with you. I mean, for me, that was a big thing. I felt like the most horrible person in the world because I couldn’t do well in school. Then when you grow up your value is based on your career. So, these are like really toxic things and it makes you feel bad, it affects your self esteem. If you can’t function these systems, if you don’t feel like you fit in with the other children, it affects your self esteem. So, I think isolation, loneliness, not feeling like you fit in. Being told that what you feel is wrong are all what precipitates these kinds of issues.
Laura Dawn: I really appreciate the way that you’re setting the context of all of this within the societal structure of capitalism. Its really extending our understanding of set and setting and the environment that we find ourselves in is also extended to our culture and the systems that actually create that structure. So, this kind of links back to that second part of the story is like back in 2011, when you came through that journey out the other side and correct me if I’m wrong. But my understanding is that a big portion of relapse after people go through Ibogaine treatments is because they put themselves back in old environments and surround themselves with the same people where they used to use. I’m curious, what was that like for you to come out of that back in 2011, which was a very different psychedelically informed time than it is even right now. We still have a really long way to go, but that was a decade ago. So, what was that like and what do you wish that you had then that now people do have access to that has informed your work in the center that you work at now?
Juliana Mulligan: Well, one thing that benefited me is that I didn’t go back to where I was living in Columbia. I came back to the U.S. So, changing environments gave me a big edge, and I also didn’t have any using friends because I used opiates. Opioids are more of a lonely drug in my opinion. So, I didn’t have to worry about like friends that I had to cut off. Thank God. So, that was helpful, but I do wish that I would have had therapy which I didn’t get around to finding for a few years after that. I didn’t find out, I didn’t even really learn what harm reduction was until like a year after. So, even though I was often running and, you know, I never used opioids again. So, I’m considered like a success, even though there are many different versions of success and relapsing after everything doesn’t mean you weren’t successful. Also, I just want to say that and I do wish that I would have had a better mental health support and harm reduction, oriented mental health support. As well, the place that I work now, it’s like the center of my dreams. All of the clinicians are amazing and it’s just such a beautiful thing to work with clients who are so used to the abstinence only model. Then they come to us and they’re like, wait a minute. You want me to set my goals? You care what I want to do? Like what I feel is valuable? Like I am an empowered person? Like I don’t have the disease for life? Like it’s so wonderful to watch people when they hear this. I had a guy the other day, break down in tears because he was like, so relieved that there was this other way because the abstinence only 12 step model never felt right for him.
Laura Dawn: So, what was some of the next steps that you took and when did you know that you really wanted to step into providing this care for people?
Juliana Mulligan: Well, you know, even though my Ibogaine fighter almost killed me. One of the great things that he did for me was I wanted to stay and work in the clinic. I didn’t want to leave and that is a common thing that happens. Most people who work in clinics, providing Ibogaine, did a treatment themselves, and then immediately opened a clinic or went to work in the clinic. This actually causes some issues. My provider said, go back home, learn how to live your life for a year and then come and work in a clinic. I’m so glad he told me that because it was the first time that I was like living as a responsible adult, essentially. Learning how to like make money and manage my life and all of that. A lot of people who go immediately from their own treatment to working. They think they can’t do anything else, but provide Ibogaine. This contributes to a lot of issues that we can dive into later of people that don’t take breaks and don’t leave providing treatments when they should. It ends up endangering clients. But that’s a whole other issue. So, I went home, I ended up moving to the Bay Area. I knew that I wanted to prepare for working in clinics. So, I got an EMT certification. Because of what happened to me. I was like more at that point, more interested in the medical side of things. So, I got an EMT certification. Went to my first Ibogaine conference in Vancouver in 2012, met everybody. Kind of started to set up where I was going to go train. So, I ended up taking longer than I had expected and started working in clinics in 2014 in South Africa. That was the first clinic I worked at. I worked at a clinic in Costa Rica after that, and then one in Mexico after that. After my time providing treatments, I realized that there was something about being an Ibogaine provider that didn’t feel completely fulfilling to me. I felt like I had skills and talents that could do something else, but I wasn’t sure what it was. I was very resistant to going to school. Because I had had such a hard time as a child with ADD and, you know, I thought, well, if I have a good provider, I don’t ever have to go to school again.
This is great. But then when I realized that that wasn’t the right thing for me, I was like, shit, I’m going to have to go to school. So, I realized that working more from the psychotherapeutic angle was really where my skills were at. So, I embarked on the long journey of getting a bachelor’s degree and now I’m working on my master’s. But throughout that process, I’ve always been informally helping families and people seeking treatment, to find the right treatment. Because it’s actually not easy to know where the good clinics are and what to look for. So, I kind of solidified that into a business about three and a half years ago working with people and their families around treatment. Now I’m also advising clinics on safety protocols and mental health protocols and just kind of helping people doing consultations with people, for whatever they need. But I’m really interested in like safety ethics, how clinics are set up. I also work with, Ibogaine providers supporting them through crisis situations. That’s like one of my favorite things. So, there’s a couple of clinics that call me when they have emergencies. They have a really tough decision to make about a treatment. So, that’s kind of like where I’m at now, but it’s been an evolution and it took a lot of trial and error to figure out like where my place was in the community.
Laura Dawn: Wonderful, and the person that administered that first dose, or that significant journey where you almost died, is he still providing?
Juliana Mulligan: No, he actually passed away, I think it was the end of 2017, which is really sad. This guy, you know, He was a pretty reckless guy, but he wasn’t like an evil dude. We kind of have this phenomenon in the community of people who come into it with the right intentions. They have really big hearts, but they’re not taking care of themselves. Ibogaine attracts the people with the biggest trauma, because it’s the hardest psychedelic in the world. It’s not recreational. It is not fun. So, people come to Ibogaine, who’s tried everything else generally, and who will have really big, heavy issues. Once you do Ibogaine, you feel so invigorated and excited about life. You feel like all of your problems are solved. A lot of us are like, I’m going to, my calling is to be an Ibogaine provider. So, people dive into it without getting proper mental health support. They do it in a kind of a workaholic destructive way where they don’t take enough breaks and they’re not taking care of themselves. We probably have one Ibogaine provider a year die for various reasons because they’re not taking care of themselves, in a car accident. Even like murders in Mexico have happened. So, it’s a big issue. We have a lot of talented, loving people working, but who aren’t really safe to work with vulnerable people because they haven’t worked on their own issues. This is the case with my provider who just wasn’t taking care of himself. He got progressively worse and after me, there was a handful of deaths over the years in Costa Rica because of his negligence and he just kind of got more delusional with time. Which I’ve seen happen with a number of people in the community. Eventually he got in a car accident and passed away. So, this is why I’m really excited about supporting providers. I’d love to be in a community where there was funding for every single person working in a clinic to be in therapy, where there was supervision for every single person working in a clinic. This medicine is so amazing, but it’s also so dangerous and it’s an art form to administer it carefully. We really need more support for the people providing it, or it’s just not going to be safe.
Laura Dawn: I so appreciate that. I also really appreciate the way that you’re actually bringing a lot of compassion talking about this man who supported you on a journey who put you almost on your death bed. But yet you’re able to sit here and say, you know, he had a really good heart and really good intentions. I think that that’s an important balanced view because I think there’s also a lot of demonization happening in this space right now. A lot of judgment and people throwing shit around. I think that we can actually do better as a community to hold space for these conversations that really come down to safety and harm reduction. Let’s just get more informed and your idea to have funding, to support healing the healers. Let’s support the healers, let’s support the practitioners. Even right now, we’re seeing burnout at such high rates in the psychedelic space. On a whole, it’s really, really a major issue that’s happening right now. So, I really love that you’re speaking to this. So, poignantly, and I’m curious to ask you if we could just shift gears a little bit for people listening. When they hear you say that you went through this journey and that you didn’t have any withdrawal symptoms on the other side. That’s very different than other programs and going to rehab. What is the mechanism in Ibogaine that facilitate something like that? That seems actually quite miraculous.
Juliana Mulligan: Yeah. Well, I want to clarify and say that I did have 15 to 20% withdrawal, which is nothing in comparison to the full blown thing. You know, like I definitely felt kind of uncomfortable and antsy for like a week or so afterwards and like trouble sleeping. So, there’s a little bit less, it doesn’t take everything away, but it takes away the majority. I also want to clarify that, it doesn’t do that for all opioids, suboxone, and methadone. It doesn’t really work on it in that way. A lot of people who are coming off fentanyl do have more withdrawal symptoms than someone coming off oxycodone. So, it kind of depends on the opioid and the way it works. But the way that it works. So, one of the most important researchers in Ibogaine Dr. Ken Albert. He says that we understand like 1% of how Ibogaine works because it’s so complicated. It acts on every receptor site in your brain. Other psychedelics are much less, it’s like a couple of receptor sites. But Ibogaine hits everything, which is why it’s so amazing and also a little bit dangerous. But the opioid system, there’s a bit of a disagreement between researchers on how it works. But essentially it’s sitting on your receptor without activating the part that gets you an opioid high, like it adheres to the opioid receptors, but it’s not activating it. So, it’s kind of like holding the place of where the opioids would have been and its slowly wearing off. So it’s like, yeah, it’s basically holding the place and not leaving your system quickly. So, that’s why you’re able to essentially like skip the withdrawal process. It’s also doing something to the serotonin and dopamine receptors that feels to me like a resetting mechanism and that’s how it’s described. But they also don’t fully understand how it works. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been enough funding for Ibogaine research, although that’s been improving. So, I think there’s going to be a lot of really interesting things that we learn in the future about Ibogaine. It’s being used to treat Parkinson’s as well in very small daily doses, not the big psychedelic dose. So, there’s a lot of implications for how this works, but the opioid thing is amazing. It feels like a miracle after going through so many withdrawals from different opioids myself.
Laura Dawn: I can just imagine, you know, a parent listening to this right now, who is watching their child go through opioid addiction. Who doesn’t know that this even exists and might have questions and concerns and it’s amazing that your mother was on board to support you in this journey.
Juliana Mulligan: My mom’s an angel, basically. I think that’s part of why that I did so well. I think for parents who are like listening to this, it is quite a miraculous treatment. But I really want to emphasize that follow-up care is just as important if not more important than the actual Ibogaine. Because a lot of people go home. Like we were saying earlier to the same environment and it’s not conducive to supporting them healing. So, it’s almost not worth it to scrape together the $8,000 for the treatment. If there’s no resources to send them somewhere else after.
Laura Dawn: Yeah, I have two questions. One of them, I do want to touch on access because I feel like this is a huge topic. Before we touch on that is the center that you’re at in New York. Is that essentially preparation and integration support for aftercare?
Juliana Mulligan: It does offer that. I mean, The Center For Optimal Living is working with people who struggle with substances, period. Not necessarily around Ibogaine, not necessarily around psychedelics. Although we do have people trained, doing psychedelic preparation and integration, including me. Ibogaine people are welcome at the center too, but it’s not like the main focus. We just work with people in general, struggling with substances who are trying a variety of different treatments. Even people doing 12 step, people on methadone. It’s like anybody struggling with drugs.
Laura Dawn: What is your take on access? I mean, this is an expensive treatment. Although we could say that relative to rehab, this is a very affordable option.
Juliana Mulligan: Yeah. Compared to like the 30 grand one month rehab. $8,000 really isn’t that bad, but it still is prohibitive. Honestly, the demographic I’m most seeing, being able to access Ibogaine is white men, and that is not okay. This is an indigenous medicine. Access should be available for everybody and it’s a problem. I feel like for every five men that get referred to me to work with. I get like one woman, one white woman and I can’t even tell you the last time I had a person of color. Maybe a couple of years ago, and this is not okay for me in my work. I never turn away women or people of color, even if they can’t pay. Really, what needs to happen is more clinics should have scholarship funds and some do which is great. But I would love for there to be more money. Then, you know, for every treatment you give you set aside this, like this amount of money to fund the scholarship treatments. So, this is something that needs to get focused on more.
Laura Dawn: When you are administering, are you doing that in another country, in a legal jurisdiction? How does that work?
Juliana Mulligan: I’m not administering. I’m only working with people before and afterwards and working with clinics. Administering, the thing with being an Ibogaine provider is it’s the most stressful job I’ve ever done. You can’t have anything else going on in your life. When you have clients there, you’re essentially on duty all of the time, because people can die from this medicine. Even healthy people can have a cardiac issue from this medicine. So, you’re constantly on the edge of your seat. It’s incredibly stressful and exhausting. People are also having like their most intense trauma exposed all at once in one night. Then they project it onto you. I mean, people go into all kinds of different states after Ibogaine, they get angry at you. They threaten you. They go into like a state of mania. Just all of the most difficult emotional stuff comes up and that’s your responsibility to deal with that. So, when you’re an Ibogaine provider, you can’t really have like another job that you’re doing, you can’t really be going to school. You can’t really have hobbies maybe because it’s such a consuming profession. So, for me, it’s not the right thing because I want to do all of these other aspects and improve the community and work in harm reduction. So, I’m like completely happy to not be administering medicine. The other thing is like, you need like a full medical team. You need like a clinic setting to really do this, right? So, there are people working underground in the U.S but it’s really hard to do it safely. It’s really hard to do it in a way that’s sustainable and not exhausting.
Laura Dawn: You speak to something that I just want to highlight here for people listening. Because, I feel like there’s this narrative that being a facilitator or a provider or a guide is like the top of the hierarchy in the psychedelic space. I’m just like, okay guys, first of all, it’s so over-glorified, we’re talking like emptying buckets, like lots of purge, you know. It’s amazing for people who feel that call and that are super clear. Then I think there are a lot of people who go onto that path because there’s something egoic associated to it. There’s like an ego inflation and all, I want you to speak to that. I just want to say that there are so many ways to contribute to the psychedelic movement and you Juliana are such a perfect example of that. Even in the keynote speaking that you’re doing, I mean, that’s a profound way to contribute. You know, speaking on podcasts, you put together this incredible series that I would love for you to talk about towards the end, you know. That’s educational and you’re in the safety and harm reduction space and integration and preparation, being a facilitator and a guide is not for everyone. I think you’re bringing that into a more rounded light here.
Juliana Mulligan: Yeah. I think the obsession with being a guide and a healer and a shaman to me is like, I don’t know, like it’s very capitalist. In that, it’s like, you want to have that power over other people, you know, it’s like, you want to be the magician. You know, you want to be the wizard. I feel like it’s a lot of people’s little kid fantasies being taken into adulthood. You know, like, it’s a really important job and we need really balanced, talented people to do it. But what I see is a lot of people with unhealthy levels of narcissistic traits being drawn to doing this. Because in the psychedelic space, when you become a healer or shaman or a facilitator, mostly you’re working in a legal gray area. So, there’s no one monitoring what you’re doing. There is no official training to certify you, in Ibogaine at least, and in most of their psychedelic work then you can make money and people are like putting you on a pedestal. It’s the perfect storm for sociopaths and personality disorders to thrive. I also just want to mention that I think that, you know, there’s a lot of talk of psychedelics and ego disillusion and reducing narcissistic traits. I actually see a lot of people’s narcissistic traits get enhanced and their ego get potentiated. I see that sociopath’s become worse and personality disorders symptoms become worse. I actually see this in, I believe people with unaddressed personality disorder symptoms actually get worse from the medicine when you don’t have the right mental health support around you. Certain like toxic traits and toxic internal processes get enhanced. So, I see a lot of people getting drawn to these power positions and it’s really not necessarily about supporting other people. A true healer knows that it’s a collaborative process and that it’s not about having power over other people. So, I’m always really suspect of the like maniacal drive to be this like healer and call yourself a shaman and be the center of the attention. Yeah, I don’t know.
Laura Dawn: I think it’s the path of mastery on a real deep level. Like people have to be so lucid and devoted to their inner work, to show up in a clear way and being put on the pedestal. It’s just farther to fall and the projections and all of that become with it. It’s really, really a lot and you just mentioned ego disillusion. I also feel like there’s this like narrative of the holy grail of, okay. I have to have the mega dose and dissolve my ego. Actually that, I feel like that’s a harmful narrative in the space because actually going through ego disillusion experiences can be incredibly disorienting on the other side.
Juliana Mulligan: Yeah, definitely. I think there’s a lot of hype around like five MEO right now. To me, it’s like a really scary drug and I’ve heard and seen a lot of people get really spun out and get worse. I’ve recently heard from someone who said that they became suicidal for the next year after their five MEO experience. So, I think that we’re kind of playing with fire, with these psychedelics and also the emphasis on like more is better and bigger doses is better. It’s really dangerous. Right now in my life, I microdose and that’s it and I’m happy with that. That for me, like even a regular dose of a psychedelic is way too stimulating for my nervous system. I actually get in a lot of pain, a lot of physical pain from psychedelics. I get told the most ridiculous, horrible things by people that I just don’t know how to let go of control. I’m not working with the right Shauna. I just haven’t tried the right dose of medicine. I should try like this. Like there’s no one size fits all way to use psychedelics. Different things, work for different people. I also just want to question the whole notion of ego disillusion with psychedelics. I don’t even know if that really happens. Is that what’s happening with psychedelics? I have never felt like my ego was dissolved even when I’ve done big doses. I don’t know. I think that for me working slowly and like kind of slowly unpiecing things inside of myself with the support of other people while also being willing to listen and self-reflect, this is the key thing. When you have a person who’s narcissistic, who’s completely unwilling to listen and be self-reflective and take responsibility for when they’ve harmed others. This is really dangerous and I see this a lot, especially in the Ibogaine community especially with men in the Ibogaine community. Unfortunately, although it’s not exclusively men, there are some toxic women too. But there’s a lot of this kind of dominating patriarchal behavior. When you pointed out there’s zero ability for people to listen and reflect about it. These people should not be caring for vulnerable individuals and there’s no one monitoring it, you know, every day I wonder, like what can I do? What am I going to do to confront these people and call them out to the world? Because I’ve been in the community so long, like I pretty much know what’s happening and I get complaints submitted to me over dangerous practitioners. It’s like, I don’t know what to do. I’m not the police, you know, like, how are we going to deal with this issue of calling people out and confronting people and actually getting somewhere and helping that facilitator heal to like, how do we deal with that? So, that’s a whole other complex topic.
Laura Dawn: Oh, it’s so complicated and it’s nuanced. As you said, some people really genuinely care and mistakes happen and that’s true too, you know. Some of them can be prevented and sometimes things happen and it’s outside of some people’s hands. I’m curious, just to know, what would you say is the division between male and female providers in the space, would you say like 80, 20 male to female?
Juliana Mulligan: In the Ibogaine space? Maybe. I would have to like really sit down and look, it might be more like 60, 40. But what ends up happening in the past in the Ibogaine space is it’s always been white men who kind of have the platform and run things in the community. Often they are like very kind of dominating with patriarchal behavior, abusive behavior behind closed doors. I can’t tell you like how many times that myself and some of my favorite women, Ibogaine providers have had to face this kind of like heckling and condescending attitudes. Even from like men who just showed up in the community and are brand new. Recently my dear friend, Shea Kruger, who’s one of the longest working women in the community. She was facing this really condescending derogatory remarks from a brand new man in the space. This is something that’s really, really common. It’s a big issue and yeah, it’s really upsetting that this is still going on. A lot of times when we want to speak out about it, people are like, oh yeah, this is important. But we’re not gonna remove that person off of our events. Or, you know, people are really unwilling to confront this, I have found.
Laura Dawn: I love Shea. I know Shea personally. I was actually just thinking about that because when we talk about self care. You know, these journeys are happening all night, through the night, into the early hours. Sometimes these journeys last 24 hours, and even being an Ibogaine provider, it’s really hard on your sleep cycle, sleep deprivation. That’s when mistakes happen, it’s no joke.
Juliana Mulligan: Yeah, it’s really intense. It’s the most intense job I’ve ever done. The people who do it deserve all the support in the world for doing it. Yeah, there’s just not enough structure of support for Ibogaine providers right now.
Laura Dawn: I’m curious to know, I’m sure people are going to email me asking me, well, who do you recommend? I get people asking me for recommendations for centers all the time. I actually feel really, really hesitant and cautious to recommend and refer anyone anywhere. That’s why I created my free guide 45 questions to vet your Shaman guide facilitator. I think that that’s a good way to empower people. How do you navigate the question of where to go?
Juliana Mulligan: So, Shea and I actually, co-created a guide to finding a safe clinic that I’ll send to you. Basically, I mean, it’s not a foolproof guide, but if you ask the series of questions, when you call a clinic, you’ll mostly weed out the dangerous ones. So, I’m with you. I think that suggesting particular clinics is risky. Because then if something happens, you’re like a bit responsible for it. Also, I think it’s really important to empower people, to use their intuition and do their own research and really get connected to the person they’re looking into. I think that’s super valuable. But I do sometimes send clinic recommendations. I have like probably six places in the world right now that I feel safe about, which is pretty small considering there’s like 40 something, so clinics in the world. So, sometimes I do show those names, but I really like for people to use the guide and ask the questions themselves and like form a relationship with the potential provider.
Laura Dawn: So, do you feel like sharing any of those names here or no?
Juliana Mulligan: Sure. I mean, Shea Kruger, Ibogaine Revelations, one of my favorites. Claire Wilkens, legendary long time Ibogaine provider. She runs Pangea Biomedics. She pioneered the long-term low dose protocol which is revolutionary and way more safe and in my opinion, has better long lasting results with people. She was the third person I trained with. So, Shea and Pangea .Also Beyond is a new clinic that’s opening that I’m helping to work on. But they are new, but they are consulting like a bunch of us veterans in the community, and they’re doing a really great job with that. Also a great place for like Sentinel detox is a place called Casa on the east of Belle in Tijuana Rosarito area as well. Also in Zelma, Ibogaine in that area as well as a safe guy to.
Laura Dawn: What would you say top three red flags.
Juliana Mulligan: They’re not asking for an EKG. That’s one number one, in advance. They have to be asking for an EKG and a blood liver panel. That’s red flag. Number one, two, they’re saying that they can get you off of Suboxone or methadone directly or within a few weeks. Suboxone, you have to be off of six weeks or else you’re still going to be really sick afterwards, methadone minimum four weeks, I would say. Unless you’re going to Pangea because Clare has a different protocol, but she’s really the only one that can treat people directly from Suboxone and methadone, in my opinion. So, that’s two, a third red flag is they’re trying to rush you down. They’re pressuring you. Clinics should never be pressuring you. A real talented provider will want you to find the clinic that’s right for you and won’t pressure you to come to them. They’ll want you to take your time. I mean, Shea sometimes talks to people for six months or a year before they even come for treatment to get it, to build the relationship with them and to really understand what’s going on in their lives. When a client is like, come down this week, you know, You can’t rush people into this. That’s when issues come up and that’s when people will hide from you, that they’ve actually been doing Xanax regularly, and didn’t tell you, and then they’ll go into a benzo withdrawal seizure during the Ibogaine treatment and people die that way. So, any clinic that’s rushing or pressuring you is a big red flag.
Laura Dawn: That is so wonderful. What about looking into is after care and integration support? Is that part of most people’s protocol, would you say? Or just a very select few?
Juliana Mulligan: It’s getting better. It used to be like, no. I mean, my clinic was like, you know, you come in, you come out, see you later figure it out. But clinics are getting better about emphasizing aftercare. There’s one amazing place in Maddie Nalco, a few hours outside of Mexico city called Inscape. They have a six week program. I visited it last year. It’s absolutely beautiful. I’ve sent a lot of my clients there and they’ve loved it. I’m doing an Ibogaine treatment and doing their six week programs to me is like the ideal setup. There is also a number of people doing work like I’m doing over like Zoom and the phone preparation and integration. But really, I wish there was more places like Inscape for people to go and to be in community. Because community is like a big, big piece of this. So, I’m hoping that there’s more quality, like after care centers set up in the near future.
Laura Dawn: Okay, great. What would you say is the main distinction between Ibogaine and people going to journey with Eboga and for quote, unquote more psycho spiritual purposes rather than healing from addiction or detox purposes?
Juliana Mulligan: I mean, if you’re not detoxing, the treatment is like it’s much safer and smoother. Because even though it’s helping you to skip withdrawal, you’re still pretty uncomfortable throughout. So, that’s a big difference. I mean, people who go, I don’t know, I’m not sure I can really answer this because I’ve actually never done a big dose of Eboga. Both times I’ve done, you know, so-called fled doses was with pure Ibogaine. I think the centers that are working with Eboga are generally doing like traditional style treatments and they either have an Dunga from Gabon or they’ve changed in Gabon. So, I’ve been in Gabon and Cameron and watched the initiations. So, I know a bit about what that’s like from an observer point of view. So, I think if you’re going to one of these like booty retreats for a psychospiritual Ibogaine treatments. I think the difference is that it’s usually not as intense in a big of a dose. I mean, you’re not in a clinic setting. It makes a big difference to be in like a hospital feeling type space and, or like a retreat doing booty rituals. Like that’s two completely different things. So, I think the setting makes a big difference in that. But generally with root bark treatments, I think that you might vomit more. That’s another thing. I don’t know. It’s hard for me to say, I’ve only personally done the clinical versions. I haven’t had a chance to do an initiation in Gabon myself.
Laura Dawn: Yeah. Do you feel called to that path? I guess part of it is that I just want to contextualize this conversation around Ibogaine within just the awareness for people listening. That it comes from Eboga that comes from a whole culture and a whole lineage and a tradition that is very different than what we experienced and know in the west. So, anything that you love to speak to that awareness would be helpful.
Juliana Mulligan: Yeah, it’s a really beautiful tradition. It has its origins from the pygmy people. They don’t really know how long they’ve been using Eboga. But I suspect it’s a really long time in the ceremonies that I watched. What I saw, at least in the first village that I was in is that everybody doesn’t initiation at some point in their lives, but there was no set age. Basically that Enganga who’s like, you know, the equivalent of a shaman in the village decides when each person. When it’s time for their initiation, that could be at any time we saw a six month old baby being initiated along with a 31 year old woman. So, the initiation time it’s really based on the person. But, it’s a really beautiful process because the whole village is involved for every initiation. It’s really a community thing. People are eating small amounts of Eboga their whole life from when they’re in the womb. They do it for initiation into your true self, but also to like heal various ailments. They had no idea that it was like an addiction interrupter because they don’t have the same kind of issues that we do in the west. But also what I want to say about that is most of the medicine that you find online, because there’s a lot of people try to order and do it at home, which is not safe, mostly it’s stolen out of protected forests. That’s really important to be aware of. There’s very little like certified, safe, Eboga to be had. It’s most of the like safe dispensers of medicine will only sell to clinics because of the safety issues. So, I highly encourage people not to order Eboga online and also to like read about it, learn about the tradition of Bouti. Look into ways if you’re going to go do a treatment or also if you’re making money off of Ibogaine in any way to give back. One organization called blessings of the forest, working in Gabon is doing a ton of work on conservation of Eboga and replenishing, Eboga, and protecting it for the traditional people who use it. I always like to frame it as like a colonization issue. You know, the fact that psychedelics are blowing up right now and people are going all around the world and taking these indigenous medicines and bringing them here. It’s another form of colonization. If you’re not working to prioritize and protect the traditional people who use these medicines, then you’re just a colonizer. So, I really, we need to really up the amount of reciprocity that’s happening and reciprocity, isn’t only just throwing money at things it’s also honoring and prioritizing the voices of indigenous people. You know, like we should all be consulting Bouti practitioners in Gabon and Cameroon, you know, learning what their wishes are. Even the researchers in the clinics, you know, there’s these new kind of big Ibogaine companies being set up and it’s really scary to me because I don’t see much mention of indigenous reciprocity in the mission statements of these organizations.
Laura Dawn: That’s such a great point and I just want to mention, at the end of May, we’re going to be live with Grow Medicine. Where we’re making it really easy for people in the medicine community to embody right relationship and reciprocity. For Eboga, we are launching with featuring blessings of the forest. We have an interview coming out with them where they’re going to really go deep into some of these cultural nuances. There’s a lot to understand about the cultural context of what’s going on. My understanding is that most centers, about 90% of people providing Ibogaine and Eboga, it’s poached from the wild. So, that it is all illegal poaching happening. Blessings of the forest are working very, very hard to create systems and work with the government to create real fair trade essentially, and new models for how they can be exporting it. Working with the local Gabonese people, because that’s actually the worst part about it is that local people don’t have access to their own medicine and that’s heartbreaking
Juliana Mulligan: When you really think about it. Yeah. It’s awful. I’ve heard of places using alcohol in their ceremonies instead because they don’t have Eboga.
Laura Dawn: Which is terrible. Oh my goodness. What else have we not talked about that we really wanted to dive into? What are some of the other topics that you feel are really alive for you right now?
Juliana Mulligan: Yeah. You know, the course that I just did for The Center For Optimal Living, it was called working with psychedelics to treat substance use issues. This was really like a harm reduction version of like supporting people through their substance use issues. What I have encountered a lot in the Ibogaine and psychedelic space is the same mainstream stigmatizing disease concept attitudes and abstinence only attitudes. So, I really wanted to train people in the harm reduction approach and how to support people using drugs because more and more people are coming to psychedelics to deal with their substance dependence issues. So, this course, it was an eight week course. I think we had about 30 people teaching on it. It was like all of my favorite people in psychedelics. Plus also Gabriel Martay and Carl Hart were on it. Laura May Northrop from Who I Know Did your podcast taught on it. We partnered with Sage Institute who’s a low cost ketamine treatment provider in Oakland. They’re amazing. I highly suggest donating to them. They’re doing amazing work. Also Sauna, we had a lot of people from Sauna, another low cost ketamine heavy place in Chicago who are teaching on the course. But really it was that we covered so many different topics, but it was all through an intersectional lens.
So, we were looking at substance use through the lens of anti-oppression and talking about the ways that capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, all affect people and ultimately have created the mental health problems that we have today. How do we work from an anti-oppression standpoint? Because if we’re not talking about these things in the psychedelic world, we’re just going to perpetuate the same culture of power grabbing and patriarchy. There is a lot of patriarchal tendencies in this community. Like, it’s slightly improving here and there, but I think that we really all need to be doing this work from an intersectional lens. Talking about the system that we live in because even those who was the most privileged are still going to be affected by this. People with less privilege are really harmed by the system that we live in. We can’t have like, you know, people of color coming to us for help and we’re not informed at all about how racism works, how white supremacy works, how, you know, colonization has affected indigenous people. Like these are all things that we really need to understand and work from in our work supporting people. So, that’s what this course was really informed by, and I’m hoping we’re going to do like a part two of it. I would really love to do it in person eventually. But I’m really excited about that and like all the people, all the speakers that we had, I’m just like floored by. So, it’ll be available for purchase soon for people that missed the course.
Laura Dawn: Okay. Wonderful and you can send me that link. I’ll put it in the show notes. If it’s evergreen and people can watch that on their own free time. That’s amazing resource for people. I’m also just kind of curious. Do you feel like sharing what you microdose with?
Juliana Mulligan: Sure. My favorite thing is Iboga TA I microdose with. Hopefully, I don’t have a license yet. I’m still in my master’s program. So, hopefully I can’t get my license removed for talking about this. I think it’s okay. Yeah. I microdose with Iboga total alkaloid extract. That is from the plantation in Cameron, a verified plantation in Cameroon. It’s my favorite thing. I take the teeniest tiniest amount and it helps me to feel really present. It’s not good for a high pressure day with multitasking. It’s great for slower days, but it’s quite amazing how subtle it is, but how it’ll bring my attention to look at different narratives. I have circling in my head and, you know, help me to decide to change them. I also will sometimes microdose with mushrooms, but for whatever reason, me and I both work best together. So, that’s usually what I’m doing.
Laura Dawn: Was there a resource that you could recommend for people because even microdosing with Iboga, it’s not to be taken lightly for people listening. I do recommend when we start talking about, you know, medicines like this to work with a practitioner or someone who can help oversee and support your practice.
Juliana Mulligan: Definitely because actually even small amounts of Eboga can put people in the hospital. If they have like an arrhythmia they don’t know about, you know, people can have transient arrhythmias that might not show up on an EKG. There’s all kinds of things at play. So, definitely, especially for Eboga you’d need to be working with someone to kind of like coach you through it and make sure that you’re doing it safely.
Laura Dawn: I’ve also heard that it doesn’t really make sense to microdose unless you’ve done a flood dose. Do you have a different perspective of that?
Juliana Mulligan: Yeah, I mean, I haven’t heard that a lot. But I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I mean like the Parkinson’s patients who are doing really tiny amounts of Ibogaine daily, they haven’t done a big treatment a lot of the time and they are still receiving benefit and that it’s greatly reducing their Parkinson’s symptoms. So, I think that you know, probably. I would say in Gabon according to Bouti they wouldn’t want you to do small amounts without doing the initiation. That’s important to note, but also I think it’s important to be flexible. A lot of people don’t have the money to go do an Ibogaine treatment you might not have the health to be able to stand an Ibogaine treatment and maybe doing tiny amounts is like, what’s going to be best for them. I would rather make things safer for people than say, just don’t do it. Because that’s like the, just say no bullshit drug war campaign. Like we have to support people wherever they’re at.
Laura Dawn: I really appreciate that perspective because I think it’s so easy. Even in the psychedelic space for people to be drawing all sorts of hard lines and making very hard statements when it’s like, actually that’s not so black and white, and there’s a lot of gray there. We have a lot of different factors that are very complicated, like not having enough resources to go and do a larger treatment. At the end of the day, the goal is to help support people’s health and wellbeing. Like fundamentally, that’s what we’re trying to do. So, yeah, I think that it’s always a case by case basis, but please work with an experienced practitioner or provider, even if you’re microdosing. I’m curious, do you have a practice or a morning practice that you like to engage with with your microdosing?
Juliana Mulligan: First of all, my micro-dosing, I don’t have the schedule. I just kind of do it intuitively and right now, because I have school and work, I’m juggling so many things. I’m not doing it as much. But when I microdose, I liked to, you know, do like some stretching, like a little bit of yoga and like a short breathing exercise. I’m also addicted to the ice cold shower every morning, thanks to Wim Hoff. So, that’s really helped. I do that, microdosing or not. But definitely if I’m going to microdose doing a little bit of yoga and some breathing exercises and yeah, I mean, some people also like love journaling a little bit in the beginning. I’ve done that before. That’s also a great practice to accompany your microdose.
Laura Dawn: Yeah. Any other self-care practices that you’d love to share to help manage stress, prevent burnout. I know you’re juggling a lot of different balls in the air right now. I know. So, many other people listening to this podcast are as well, who are in the psychedelic space. So, I’m starting to introduce more of these questions at the tail end of my interviews, because I’m curious to hear what other people are doing to help nourish, fill up the cup.
Juliana Mulligan: I mean for one being in therapy, it’s a big piece. I think anybody working in this space really needs to be doing their own work. That’s one, two just doing fun things with people. I think community is a huge piece of healing. I also think a lot of our mental health issues come from being in a hyper individualistic, capitalistic society where it’s all about personal space. You know, I went to live in Berlin for awhile and Germans and any other nationality in Berlin, like would joke around that the American roommates just like stay in their own room all the time and away from everybody. They want their personal space. So, I think we have like this kind of like weird phenomenon in this country of really shutting ourselves off from other people. I think it comes from the fact that many of us are descended from either colonizers or colonized in this country. We’ve lost a lot of our traditions and sense of community. Like, you know, my family came from Sicily for example, and stopped speaking Italian because they wanted to assimilate. So, I think the cutting off from our traditions has really left us all with like grappling, with how to find culture. We’re like way too about our own agenda and our own personal space. We’ve lost the sense of like how to connect with other people. I have a lot of clients who are just like, I don’t have friends and I don’t want to make any and it’s sad and really what the best medicine is other people and is being in community.
So, I think doing things for me, the most joyful part of my life is, being with other people and just doing fun things, you know, self-care, doesn’t have to be about like, I got to go to yoga and I started to go to this breath work class. It’s also like just having fun and just being spontaneous. I don’t think that that gets prioritized enough. Our culture is so much about productivity and hard work, but it’s like also most people who are coming off drugs, has zero idea how to enjoy themselves and have fun without drugs. So, we really need to emphasize this and help people learn. Like, what do they enjoy? Like, what is fun for them?
Laura Dawn: I love that. Thank you so much for sharing. Last question, I’m kind of curious, just whose body of work do you really draw a lot of inspiration from currently or in the past? Who do you really admire in this space?
Juliana Mulligan: Yeah. I mean, I’m reading Laura Mae Northrup’s book right now. Of course. It’s amazing. Gaber Mate of course, as well. Dr. Carl Hart. I just saw him speak earlier this week. He is like revolutionizing the way people view people who use drugs. I mean, my boss, Andrew Dynarski has been a big inspiration for me as well. Also, just like people working in this space who maybe haven’t written books. I really inspiring to me yet, like Yeti Leaks Estrada who runs New York psychedelic society and works for New York department of health and does amazing harm reduction projects in the city. She’s really inspiring to me. The ancestors project Charlotte and Dre, their work is really inspiring for me. Howler Kahn who’s a activist in the psychedelic space from Southern California. Let’s see Sage Institute. For me, it’s like watching people in the community who are doing phenomenal intersectional, informed work, are like what, I really draw a lot of my inspiration from.
Laura Dawn: Awesome. Thank you so much. I think a lot of people draw a lot of inspiration from you as well, and the work that you’re doing and all that you’re bringing to this movement. It takes a lot of courage. It takes a lot of courage these days to be at the forefront of anything. I think especially the forefront of the psychedelic space.
Juliana Mulligan: Thank you. Thank you so much. I’m just so grateful for the work that you’re doing as well to elevate all of our voices. It’s such an important thing to support each other and in getting platforms. So, thank you.
Laura Dawn: Thank you. Such a joy dropping in with you, honey. So good.
Juliana Mulligan is a formerly opioid-dependent person, formerly incarcerated, has been an active member of the ibogaine community for nine years, and is currently working on her Master’s in Social Work at NYU. In 2011, with the help of Ibogaine treatment, Juliana left opioids behind and set off on a path to transform the way drug users and their treatment is approached. She is currently the Psychedelic Program Coordinator at the Center for Optimal Living and runs Inner Vision Ibogaine, which supports people in preparation and integration around ibogaine treatment. She has worked in three ibogaine clinics, completed Dr. Andrew Tatarsky’s IHRP training, has presented at multiple Psychedelic and Harm Reduction conferences, is the co-founder of The Root Ibogaine Collective, and is the co-author of the Guide to Finding Safe Ibogaine Clinic. She has taught about ibogaine at Charite University in Berlin and Southwestern College in New Mexico and has written for multiple publications about ibogaine, including Double Blind Magazine and Chacruna.
Follow Juliana Mulligan on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook
Innervision Ibogaine / The Center for Optimal Living / The Root Ibogaine Collective
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I am absolutely hooked on this Podcast. Laura Dawn presents her topics and guests in a stunningly beautiful, heart centered format while weaving in the most relevant topics in psychedelics today.
Laura Dawn rocks her Psychedelic Leadership Podcast with so much style and grace! Her guests are innovative thought leaders and she asks them the most illuminating questions. She shares a wealth of knowledge and inquiry as well as her passion for the arts and music. I always appreciate how LD conducts herself.
Each time I tune into an episode I get chills all over my body! This podcast is my personal new favourite, I’ve expanded my awareness around these topics so much just tuning into these conversations, from each episode I walk away with a new teaching! Im also deeply appreciative of the way Laura Dawn structures her episodes and interviews.
The psychedelic leadership podcast is blowing my default mode network!!! Episodes include revolutionary science, as well as practical steps we can all take to creatively make change to help heal the planet and ourselves. Laura Dawn is an amazing speaker, and most definitely a thought leader.
Laura Dawn’s experience and service to the healing journey is a recipe for humanity, through modern science, plant medicine and ancient wisdom is amazing. She attracts the best of the best leaders in the space of science, psychedelics and spirituality, I love every one of her podcasts. Thank you LD!
Wow what a powerful lineup of speakers and guests sharing profound experiences and wisdom. So relevant to our times and not just with plant medicines and psychedelics but with just being a human being in these changing, evolving times. May we all grow together. Thank you Laura D 😉 Be-elowan
I’m obsessed with this podcast and I’ve listened to every episode. This is the kind of podcast that has the potential to change humanity if we all listen to these interviews and Laura’s wisdom.
About Laura Dawn
Through her signature Mastermind Programs and Plant Medicine Retreats, Laura Dawn weaves together science with ancient wisdom. She teaches business and thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals how to mindfully explore psychedelics and sacred plant medicines as powerful visionary tools for inner transformation, fostering emotional resiliency and unlocking new depths to our creative potential.