“I Used Heroin For Emotional Pain”

Article & Interview By Adriana Rubio

Cy Kobey was 34 when he decided to detox from heroin with Ibogaine and allowed Film Director Ben De Loenen to film his treatment in 2004 for the documentary “Rite Of Passage”. Cy is 40 now and with clear sadness in his voice he remembers how his drug use started. My interview with Cy took about a month and a half to get it done. He was very excited at first to tell his story, but during the process I realized that he needed more time to talk about it. This is what he has to say:

“I started using heroin when I was 23 or 24 years old. I graduated University of San Diego and decided to move up to Bay Area to look for work and start a Graduate Program at San Francisco State University. I moved away from San Diego to try to hide from the pain of dealing with the death of my father a few years earlier. I used heroin for emotional pain and got physically addicted to this horrible drug. It has been a problem for me for the last 16 years. It would have been a lot easier to have dealt with my fathers death...

Cy’s father, Mr. Monte Kobey, had a major surgery in 1984 and by 1987 the family learned that Mr. Kobey had developed AIDS from a tainted blood transfusion during that surgery three years earlier. Mr. Monte Kobey died in 1989 as a result.

Monte Kobey was a very well known business man in San Diego, CA. He graduated in Arizona State University with degrees in advertising and marketing.  He launched the San Diego Swap Meet in 1976 at the Midway Drive-In Theater. Today, the Kobey’s Swap Meet is located at the Sports Arena and is recognized as the largest outdoor market in San Diego and the third biggest one on the West Coast.

“My father was a powerful man and a wonderful person. He loved to be with people and laugh. He loved the family. I wish my father would have seen that I got married and that I have these three lovely kids”.  Cy Kobey says.

Cy lost his job before getting into treatment with Ibogaine. Even though he was still married, he found himself in a miserable situation since he was unable to handle his heroin addiction. He was tired of waking up sick every morning needing the first fix and realizing that nothing would distract him from getting his first fix every morning. Cy didn’t know that the drug he started using for emotional pain turned into the biggest nightmare of his life. He had become physically addicted to heroin and that the so called “emotional pain” was something of the past. He was facing the reality of being a user for 11 years and was mixing “speed” to keep the balance. Cy needed to kick his heroin habit out and start a new life. But, would he be able to just stop? How?
Withdrawal symptoms are described as the worst pain in the world and may last for several hours to days. Muscle cramps, stomach pain, fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea among other things addicts go through. And in many cases this condition may lead the addict to death if he/she is not properly assisted.

“When I was 23 maybe I wasn’t ready to stop, but now… thirty “fucking” four… I have to stop”. Cy told Film Director Ben De Loenen on camera.

Cy was determined to stop but without going “cold turkey”. He applied for the Ibogaine program in Mexico and qualified for treatment. It is important to know that as a way of suppressing narcotic use without going cold turkey, Ibogaine treatment is ideal. The use of Ibogaine to treat drug addiction in the United States is illegal and the entire subject is surrounded by lots of controversy. But despite the encouraging results that prove the efficacy of its use, the pharmaceutical companies and the government still show no interest and remain skeptical.

It is important to know that Ibogaine has a mortality rate of about 1 in 300. Deaths from Ibogaine have been attributed to bradycardia, fatal combinations with other narcotics, liver problems, and other serious health conditions that are mainly related to years of heavy drug use. So patients must be carefully checked by a doctor before getting into treatment and make sure that they will have medical assistance during the entire session. This treatment is not for everyone. If patient has an active disease affecting the heart, lung or liver he/she may not be a good candidate for treatment. To learn more about the tests required prior to treatment visit: http://ibogaine-therapy.net/tests.html

Cy Kobey was completely aware of the risks and decided to go ahead with the treatment. He was evaluated by a specialist doctor at “The Ibogaine Association Clinic” in Mexico.  This Clinic started treating patients in early 2000 and is one of the most experienced Ibogaine program with the greatest number of patients treated.
Cy spent five days at the facility and experienced a detoxification without withdrawal symptoms.

“The doctor advised me not to move my head because I might experience nausea, so I was careful about that. I took the dosage the doctor gave me and lay down othe bed. They hooked me up to an electrocardiograph and gave me headphones. Ibogaine started working after 30 minutes of the ingestion. I felt my spine hurt a little bit, but it wasn’t something that I couldn’t handle. But I asked if that was okay. They said that was absolutely fine. A very intense buzz in my ears was there for… I don’t know for how long, but it was so intense. I had lots of visions and memories from my childhood. Oh God, I cried a lot”.

According to well known writer Daniel Pichneck, Ibogaine can be described as “Ten Years of Therapy In One Night”. It’s not a pleasant trip. People think of Ibogaine as a hallucinogen drug. It’s not. The patient becomes aware of his condition through the most vivid visions of his life. Traditional healers (Shamans) name this procedure as a “Questions & Answers” method. The patient becomes his own visionary. Others describe it as being your own Freud.

Cy left the Clinic with a big smile on his face, but with the responsibility of taking care of himself. Ibogaine Clinics don’t provide after care but a list with instructions to follow up right after patients leave the Clinic. Relapses may occur in a few cases of long term heroin addicts or those who were on Methadone maintenance for years. They can ask for a second try with Ibogaine and even a third treatment.

It is highly recommended that before patients decide to detox and stop using, they plan to move to a different neighborhood and be surrounded by a healthy environment so they can stay away from situations that can be difficult to handle. It is also recommended to make an appointment with an experienced therapist in the addictions field and plan an after care therapy to become stronger during the recovery process. Healthy meals, yoga, exercises and family support are very important during the healing process.

I went through difficult times with my divorce. I found my wife with another man, but I admit it was my entire fault. Women need lots of attention and love. My addiction ruined it all”. 

Cy could be in charge of his family company in California or at least doing some sort of important work in, but unfortunately the stigma of drug addiction has put him off.

My family has taken the approach that I am a drug addict so I’m totally cut off from the family business money. This in turn is making me into an independent person who needs no help. My rent is $900.00 month, not including all my others bills. This month I almost have it all.  It’s stressful... but I won’t give up. I still work for this grocery store called Trader Joes 4 to 5 nights a week. And on the weekends I work the Swap Meet. I have a booth and seller skateboards. So on Saturdays, I work from 6:00 am till 3:00 pm then go to Trader Joes and work from 4:00 pm to 11:30 pm. On top of it three little children I try to put as my number one priority”.

Cy has two sisters and his mother. His older sister Kimberly had a double mastectomy last year and was lucky enough to not receive chemotherapy or radiation. But the other sister is currently battling an advanced stage of breast cancer which has no responded to any of the treatments as expected. They don’t see Cy and had no idea about the Ibogaine treatment he did in 2004. However, Kimberly was very open in knowing about it and thought her mother would have been aware of it. Kimberly was so surprised to learn that not even her mother was aware of Cy detoxing with Ibogaine and that he participated in a film documentary.
Families where drug addiction was present for years and especially if hard drugs were involved usually gave up hope since many treatments have failed before. It is not that they don’t care. It is a heart breaking situation when they see a beloved one walking to die and haven’t seen any positive results with previous programs. So, when another program knocks on the door, family members remain skeptical, may lose interest or won’t know about it.

I got in touch with Cy Kobey’s older sister Kimberly and it took me a while to start listening to the caring sister not the hurt one. Although she keeps on her words about not wanting to see her brother until she can see he is trusted, it is wonderful to at least be able to talk about him with love and affection.

“If I had a magic wand I would have used. My brother had a difficult youth with my parents and their problems. He found strength with pot and then needed stronger drugs for the same high. He was always seeking strength and found drugs he had confidence. He was a very quite sensitive child and more timid as he became a teenager. Then it was hard for all of us to deal with our father dying of AIDS”.

Kimberly Kobey understands drug addiction is a disease and needs to be treated as such. She’s been aware of all traditional treatments for heroin addiction for years, but didn’t know about Ibogaine. Kimberly is a very nice and polite lady. She thanked me for caring about his brother Cy and for all the information I provided her about Ibogaine. Kimberly watched the documentary “Rite Of Passage” where Cy participated and is looking forward to share it with her mother first and then with the rest of the family. It is a very good start for someone who hasn’t seen or talked to her brother for years.

“My mother will have lunch with Cy and his kids for Thanksgiving. Then she will come to my home for the evening to be with the rest of the family.  I will have traditional Thanksgiving for 16 at my home. Sadly I haven't been able to include my brother for years since he can't be trusted with his drug abuse.

But, now she and the rest of the family are aware of the treatment Cy did, that he has two jobs, pays the rent plus bills and that his priorities are mainly focused on his children and staying sober. And in this step by step recovery process, it will come the day Kimberly shares a wonderful meal with Cy in family.
Family support is the key to reach a successful maintenance as well as willingness to resolve the pain and anger addicts may have caused them instead of staying away and see what happens. An initial talk with a family therapist is very much recommended to open the door to a victorious family reunion. The key to open the door is in everyone’s heart.


  1. Thanks for sharing great news related to ibogaine and ibogaine treatments.

  2. “I think that we need some published data on ibogaine,” said Vocci in a phone interview. “That's where I really think this whole issue is, in terms of both safety, metabolism and possible effects.

  3. Welcome to Ibogaine Treatment rehab center, we are providing best treatment in Mexico!