🫠 Psychonaut POV

[6-min read] Q&A with Talia Eisenberg, Serial Entrepreneur

Welcome to Tricycle Day. Reading every single issue of our newsletter is kinda like an addiction. Except instead of destroying your life, you get smarter and more optimistic about the future. So carry on.

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If you’re determined to trip on your own, just promise us you’ll approach these substances with care, so things don’t go sideways.

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Talia Eisenberg got hooked on Oxy after a standard root canal. Not long after, she was buying heroin off the streets. So when a relatively unknown plant medicine saved her life, she felt compelled to help others find healing, too, and Beond was born.

We talked to Talia about the transformative potential of ibogaine, why she created an entirely new kind of treatment center, and how Kentucky can lead the country in mental health innovation.

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Talia Eisenberg Psychonaut POV
Can you share your personal journey with ibogaine and how it transformed your life?

About 15 years ago, I was a completely different person. When I was 18, I became dependent on opiates after a routine dental procedure. Given my underlying trauma, rooted in my grandparents' Holocaust survival, anxiety was a constant companion in my childhood. Prescription painkillers gave me a sudden sense of relief, and before long, I was addicted. By age 20, I was secretly buying heroin off the streets, all while appearing to live a charmed life in New York City. Fortunately, my parents were a strong support system, and over a two-year period, I sought help at several of the best rehab centers in the US. It didn’t work.

Every time I got out of treatment, about three to four weeks later, the draw of opiates would come back, and I’d relapse. This cycle continued for a few years. I understood what I needed was a full chemical reset. Then a friend who I'd socialized with years prior re-entered my life. He'd gone though ibogaine treatment in Mexico and shared his experience and transformation. I was desperate to break free and eager to try it.

So I went to a clinic in Mexico, despite my fear and doubts. This place was substandard in nearly every way, but within 10 hours of the ibogaine treatment, everything changed. I witnessed deeply personal dream-like visions, encompassing all of humanity's suffering but also the potential for healing and transcendence. I saw my beloved grandmother in Auschwitz, the unimaginable horrors she endured as a young woman, her determination to survive, and her will to ensure a future generation could contribute good to the world. At the same time, it felt like my brain was being repaired and reset. Like an attic in a house, it was being cleared, cleaned, and re-wired. I had entered as an opiate addict and was exiting without any physical withdrawal symptoms or a single craving. However, a chronic underlying anxiety did persist, which I’d need to address through integration therapy back in the US.

When I was addicted, I felt like I was always on a countdown clock between moments of relief. To be free of that dependence and hopelessness and suddenly experience a genuine desire to live well was truly miraculous. The plant medicine had worked better than I could have imagined. It revealed that I was worthy of healing, that I had a unique role and life’s purpose on this planet. I believe I wouldn't be alive today without it.

What specific aspects of your ibogaine treatment experience inspired you and your husband Tom to open Beond?

Although I’m grateful for my experience, in some ways I feel like I dodged a bullet. The facility I went to didn't provide adequate medical support. In hindsight, I was entirely unprepared for the journey. After I arrived, I never once met with a medical professional or therapist. Knowing what I know now about the importance of screening for risk mitigation, proper psychological and physiological preparation, and technical training to monitor for QT interval prolongations, that was a dangerous oversight.

During my treatment, there were moments where I honestly felt like I was on the brink of death. My heart raced. The staff there weren't particularly professional, and the other clients added to the chaos. The person in the next room was experiencing a psychotic break that could have been entirely avoided. I struggled to trust anyone around me and had little help to effectively navigate the experience of the ibogaine. It was a terrifying experience, but I now realize it didn’t have to be.

However, there were some brighter moments. I also witnessed my future self creating a beautiful ibogaine clinic. I envisioned a place that was truly safe, ethical, hygienic, and staffed by dedicated care providers, including doctors, therapists, and coaches offering a range of modalities like somatic treatments, body work, art, and sound healing. The journey helped me realize a deep sense of purpose, and that vision ultimately came true.

Ibogaine is known to carry risks, especially for people with certain medical conditions. How does Beond ensure the safety and well-being of clients during and after their treatment?

At Beond, our treatment approach begins with a rigorous medical pre-screening process with our cross-functional clinical teams, covering cardiac and mental health considerations. Prior to arrival, clients also work with a therapeutic coach to build a strong foundation for their visit to Beond and journey with ibogaine treatment.

On-site, our four licensed, credentialed physicians continue client assessments, tracking biomarkers including EKGs, complete blood count, and liver enzyme levels, which are essential for safe ibogaine processing. Our MDs also stabilize any client who is opiate dependent by transitioning them from illicit substances to prescription medications, eliminating the usual withdrawal symptoms associated with other facilities. This first phase also includes mental health assessments and sessions to help prepare our guests for their ibogaine experience. We insist on helping our clients develop a personal psychedelic agenda, which clarifies their healing intentions and how they'll work with the medicine to achieve their objectives.

Our team of ICU-certified nurses is not only well-versed in Western medicine, with certifications in advanced cardiovascular life support and care. They're also trained in Eastern approaches, such as energy healing, breath work, and quantum coaching, which we offer for guests who are interested. Drawing on tenets from 12-step programs, we emphasize the fundamental importance of developing a connection to one’s higher purpose, which almost always underlies profound psycho-spiritual healing.

Post-treatment, we offer ongoing support through virtual sessions with the same therapeutic coach. Weekly group therapy and mindfulness sessions via telemedicine for alumni further support their journey towards sustained well-being. At Beond, our approach is tailored, holistic, and geared towards creating lasting positive change.

Can you share any success stories or remarkable experiences of people who've undergone ibogaine therapy at Beond?

One that really stands out involves a cardiac surgeon who came to us seeking help with behavioral addictions. He realized that what he truly needed was deep emotional healing, a kind of “open-heart surgery” for his wounded soul. This unexpected revelation not only healed his heart and mind but also addressed the root causes of childhood trauma that undergirded his addictions. He had suffered deeply his entire life, but today, he's become a leading ibogaine expert on cardiac risk mitigation.

Another guest, who had struggled for years with opiate addiction, found his way to Beond after 99 separate unsatisfying visits to conventional rehabs. Beond was his one-hundredth attempt, and it worked. Since his treatment at Beond, he’s studied various forms of therapeutic coaching, learned to practice and teach several healing modalities, and become a valued member of our team, helping others find their path to recovery. His pain pushed him until his sense of purpose pulled him into a life of service to others.

Beond is part hospital, part rehab, part retreat, and part resort. We welcome some of the most complex and challenging situations, providing an environment of experiential medicine for a diverse group of awesome strangers who are grappling with severe addictions, PTSD, and even thoughts of suicide. Some days it feels like we work in the labor and delivery ward, where all the newborns are grownups. Witnessing such profound transformations, often in less than two weeks, is a testament to the potency of the medicine and our highly personalized approach. It’s intense work, but it’s also deeply gratifying.

What do you predict the future of ibogaine therapy looks like, especially in light of Kentucky’s potential investment of $42 million in ibogaine research?

Unlike other psychedelics, I strongly advocate for the medicalization of ibogaine due to the specific client population we work with and the associated risk factors. For that reason, everything happening in Kentucky right now is very exciting. We hope that the elected and appointed officials seize the opportunity to lead the country in innovation in treatment of opioid addiction.

While our efforts at Beond are impactful, they represent only a small response to a massive national and global problem. The demand far exceeds what we can currently meet. One of the most difficult aspects to reconcile is the cost. Not everyone can afford treatment at Beond, and some face legal restrictions that prevent them from leaving the country. There's an urgent need for greater access to medical, scientific, ethical administration of ibogaine-assisted therapies for people struggling with mood disorders, symptoms of PTSD, and chemical dependency. People shouldn’t need to fly to another country to get well.

I believe a US state has to take the lead in this movement, and given its history with the opioid crisis, Kentucky makes sense. This problem is rooted in long-term institutional inequality, including the unethical practices of large pharmaceutical companies. It's time for radical new thinking and policy change, led by a public benefit corporation or companies seeking to make sincere and positive social impact, not just fatten their profit margins.

I envision a future where ibogaine treatment is affordable, safe, and accessible, without the influence of Big Pharma. We believe Beond can be a model for what could be achieved on a much larger scale with the right support, resources, and political will. The upcoming vote next month is a pivotal step, and I'm both eager and grateful to be part of this movement for change.

Want more from Talia?

Watch her testimony at Kentucky’s public hearing, or book a call with an ibogaine expert at Beond.

UNTIL NEXT TIME

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DISCLAIMER: This newsletter is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. The use, possession, and distribution of psychedelic drugs are illegal in most countries and may result in criminal prosecution.

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