Ending Opioid Addiction with Ibogaine
Ending Opioid Addiction with Ibogaine
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:00:09
Hello and welcome to the Mind Curious podcast. Today I am bringing you my uncut interview with Fawad Kalsi. It is the remarkable journey of someone who went from a place of stability, family connected-ness, professional success and faith, and tumbled down the path of an opioid addiction that nearly cost him everything that he had built in his life. His path back to health came through an unlikely but ultimately transformative experience with Iboga, which has led to a place of not only recovery from addiction, but new spiritual growth, new sense of connection admission in the world. You've heard pieces of Fawad's story in Episode 7 and again in Episode 15, conversations in which we focused on religion and psychedelics and the healing power of Ibogaine respectively.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:00:51
But I wanted to take the time to share the whole story with you, all of the elements because I think it is a truly remarkable narrative of healing. What you are about to hear is a warm conversation between two curious minds and it is not intended to be medical or legal advice. Fawad's healing journey is specific to him, but we thank you for joining us with curiosity and openness. Let's dive in. Let's just begin, maybe give a quick introduction of who you are to the listeners.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:01:39
My name is Fawad Kalsi and I am originally from Calgary, Alberta. Born and raised an Alberta boy and I now currently reside in Langley, I've been there for the last 13 years. I am someone in the community known as a Hafiz or Imam, I have authority to lead the prayers in our mosques and I am the Imam at the Langley Islamic Center and I do own and operate my own business which is called Falcon Travel. I take sacred tours around the world to religious and historical places, which is really awesome. So we do a lot of pilgrimages and anywhere there's religion in history in the world.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:02:26
What are some of your favorite places?
Fawad Kalsi - 0:02:29
I'm there right now.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:02:31
I know that's a huge question.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:02:32
Yeah, I'm here right now, I'm talking to you from Istanbul in Turkey. Turkey is my favorite country in the whole world. And I feel at home when I'm here. That's an easy question. I mean, after that I would have to say Saudi Arabia, Medina.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:02:45
It's called the City of the Prophet, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon Him, and that is my second favorite city in the world.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:02:58
Well, wonderful I'm glad I get to talk with you in your favorite place.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:03:03
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:03:04
So one of the reasons that I reached out to you is because you've given some talks lately or you came across my radar as somebody who has had the experience of using Ibogaine in a treatment context. So, you know, that's an emerging treatment that I think is generating a lot of interest in the Western world. It's, of course, existed in other places, much longer, but generated a lot of interest in the Western world as a potential treatment for addiction, so I would just love to hear, sort of, what is your story and experience with Ibogaine.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:03:40
It's a deep question. It's a long question. It's a big question.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:03:45
Yeah, we have an hour.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:03:46
Yeah, a heavy one. I never knew about Ibogaine. I didn't know about plant medicines. I, you know, I come from a Conservative, Orthodox sort of, you know, Muslim family. I went to boarding school when I was younger. I went to boarding school in Edmonton. That's where I studied my religion, faith and I memorized the whole Quran.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:04:04
So I was like, you know, I was the prize child for my parents. I followed everything by the book, didn't touch alcohol ever. Didn't do anything wrong, didn't smoke weed. I was just a good kid in general and I succeeded in the spiritual side or the religious side, I could say, then the, you know, on the secular sides I did well in school and had a good career. I worked at TELUS for 12 years, you know, I left it on a really high note there and then got into my business and so all was going well. You know never touched anything recreationally and lo and behold, in 2012 I got hit with something called pancreatitis, and I took the family to Orlando and we were literally in the parking lot of Disney World, I think it was the Animal Kingdom, you know, I just had this sharp pain right in the middle of my abdomen and, you know, just shooting right into my back and I just, I didn't understand what was going on and I was so uncomfortable driving there.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:05:01
Just got there and everybody's excited and I just said you know, I can't even walk, I can't even breathe properly and I think I'm just gonna go back to the hotel and rest it out and I'll catch up with you guys, like it was horrendous. Like I don't even know, you know, how I dealt with that pain. They got back, you know, families just like, OK, we'll just cancel it, we'll just go back you know. Oh, by the way I forgot to mention I got three beautiful children, got a beautiful wife, you know, so we were all there. I went back and I went to rest and couldn't rest at all.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:05:34
I was restless, I was in pain, ended up calling one of my buddies sisters. She's a doctor in Calgary, good old friend and I explained to her, I said listen this is what's happening to me. I've got you know, this kind of pain and I don't know how to deal with it. Then she said you know what you're describing is pancreatitis. I would call the ambulance right away and I did and I ended up, you know, staying in the hospital there for 11 days. You know, they did every test in the book and they diagnosed me to have pancreatitis and they couldn't figure out why.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:05:59
So that is where my journey began with Opioids. They prescribed, you know, Oxycodone, said, you know, just take it whenever you need it for the pain, we really can't treat your pancreatitis, except they just kept me hungry for like about a week, eight days and kept me on IV until my pancreas shrunk and they, you know, let me go and sent me away with this bottle of pills, you know, every time I took them I would feel back to normal, I'd be pain free and it would, you know, when it would wear off it would come back. So then after that I had seven more attacks, pancreatitis attacks in 2013 and that was, you know, I was like an international hospital hopper 'cause I was in the traveling tour industry yeah so, you know, I've been to hospitals all around the world and then, you know, they changed the diagnosis from regular acute pancreatitis to chronic pancreatitis. And they just kept on prescribing Opioids. And then it went from-
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:07:04
More pain meds...
Fawad Kalsi - 0:07:05
Yeah, Oxycodone and OxyNEO, long lasting, short acting, everything and I was on them for five years and the last dose I ever took was 55 pills, equivalent to over half a gram of Oxy. And I went from being someone that had never used anything in my life to someone who was heavily dependent and addicted to Opioids and they couldn't live without them. And so out of desperation, a year before I actually was cured, my doctor was audited just randomly and, you know, it's just amazing how God works and we plan and God has a greater plan always, he got audited and he was told to get me off of the Oxys 'cause I was being prescribed like terminally ill Cancer patient dosage, and be given three to six months to get me off and that's where my real struggles started because I couldn't handle the withdrawals as he was chopping me down so I turned to the streets and started, you know, replenishing my, you know, the stuff that he was cutting down. I had to find some how to stay normal. You know, I couldn't deal with the withdrawals.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:08:14
I mean did you recognize the sense of dependence and addiction within yourself? Did you kind of realize what was happening to you?
Fawad Kalsi - 0:08:22
I was oblivious. I was oblivious. I was honestly so naive and just clueless, and it's a great question you asked, 'cause I missed a huge point where I actually realized and where I knew I was addicted was 2015 of December 25th. So 24th I ran out of my medicine. You know, I asked my wife to get me my pills and she said, you know, you only got a couple left here. You're going to be out. And I said well, haven't you sort of, you know, gone without any medicine for a day or two?
Fawad Kalsi - 0:08:51
She was worried that you know the doctors are closed on Christmas and so she said, you know, your meds are going to be finished and I said alright, I'll be fine. It's OK, I'll deal with it for a day and that was the first time where after like, you know, 8 hours I started going into full blown, you know, withdrawals and Christmas of 2015 was the worst possible day of my life. My whole body was on fire, every single bone in my body was aching. I was throwing up all over the place, had lost control of my bowels. I had literally locked myself in a room for 16 hours because I didn't want my children to see me in that condition.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:09:23
And, you know, my wife was crying and she's like what happened to my husband. This guy was like a normal guy and all of a sudden he's just... Yeah, I was begging her to hit me in the head with a bat. I said just knock me out. Like I said, I don't know what to do.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:09:41
I'm going crazy and so that was the toughest, like, you know, day of my life. Literally the withdrawals like experiencing that for the first time and I went into the doctors office on the 26th, first thing in the morning, I wanted to kill the guy and I said, you know, it was the worst day of my life. Just give me the injection or whatever it is to calm me down and get me back to normal or give me the antidote to this, you know, ridiculousness. And he was like it doesn't work like that and you should have called the, you know, should've gone to the hospital, they would have given you, refilled your prescription and I really had no idea that I was addicted. I just took it as it said, you know, take as needed every four to six hours so, you know, and the doctors had told me that it was for pain relief.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:10:19
And when it stopped working, I would just, you know, when I started feeling like OK, the pain wasn't going away, I just go to the Doctor and he increased the dosage. He's like, yeah, this, you know, you have to increase it every now and then and then they were increasing it every month and, you know, I really, now that I look back, it's really easy to talk about it but I never had a clue that I was addicted until that particular day.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:10:46
It's just amazing that at this point in our relationship with medications that nobody was talking with you about the addictive potential of Oxycodone in particular. I mean, it's hard to see that failure in the medical community.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:11:02
Yeah, it was literally never mentioned to me. It was never discussed with me, and to be honest, I don't recall having seen on the labels of the prescription bottle that this is addictive until maybe like three years into it, I started seeing it on the bottles then at that point. So yeah, it's a huge failure.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:11:22
So how did you make your way out of this horrendous addiction? 'Cause it's not easy.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:11:28
Coming back to your first question, how did Ibogaine come into my life literally. So yeah, the last eight months of my addiction, you know, I was being chopped down by my doctor and he was just proud of me because he thought I was just doing wonderful, but he didn't know that I was replenishing it off the streets and I end up spending $40,000 in eight months, 5000 a month on average. And you know, luckily, had some, you know, angels looking after me. Even the guy that was supplying me was just really careful about getting me the same stuff that I was using. I mean, I was getting from my doctor, so he was like listen I'm not in the business of making addicts and I say these things because you know everybody judges these people. But this guy was like I need to see your prescriptions.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:12:09
I need to see your bottles, even though he was a dealer but he was like I'm not gonna kill you I don't want to kill you I know what they're doing. This war on Opioids is killing people and ruining their lives and so he was really caring. And I remember these people in my life as blessings and he got me through it. When the medical system was my enemy, my doctor was my enemy, didn't care, he was just trying to protect his license. Didn't care about my well being and so I got to a breaking point because I started seeing my bank balance just disappear and I started seeing that I was going to end up on the streets at some point and my family had no clue.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:12:44
The only person that knew was my wife and God bless her because she stood by my side so I would have left myself if I was in her shoes because of the person I had become, you know, I stopped engaging with my kids. I stopped engaging with my family. I would just sit on my balcony all day. I stopped working and bless my business partners as well, they kept me afloat for two years. The last two years of my addiction.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:13:10
You know, I just started seeing the end and I broke down and I told my family and I said I need help. I've been doing this for the last like, you know, six months and I'm gonna go broke soon and the end is near man, I need help and honestly they were really supportive. I went to the community, I went to the community leaders, I went to the religious leaders and everybody was really supportive and appreciative that I opened up, but nobody really could help me and nobody knew what to do and I just felt I was cornered in. Honestly, that was the best thing that could have happened to me for my faith because that's where I was literally cornered in and everybody is super supportive and I just turned to God then and I said, listen, if this is life then I don't want it anymore. If this is the point of me, of my existence, then I don't want it anymore and take it away.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:14:00
You gave it to me so take it away. And if it isn't then you gotta get me out of this, like I have nowhere to go but you. And that's where like literally things started changing, when my conviction, my faith had only on, you know, 100% conviction in God now, like I was not dependent on anyone else but God and that's where things just fell into place. My story is like to me, it's amazing because every time I think about it, just blows my mind and it seems like it's a big movie, but I was supposed to go to, my buddy who's seeing me is from Calgary and he came to visit and he saw me. He goes oh my God, what's happened to you like look like you came out of the jungle and he goes, you need help man and I said yes so help me or let's not talk about this like if you're gonna come see me and if you want to chill out with me, let's just sit down, it's great to see you but if you can't help me like I was in a really bitter place and so he said OK you know what, we gotta get you out of here let's get a change of scenery and so he was going to take me to the Philippines to Boracay and he said, you know, let's get you a change of scenery and then that might help, right? Let's be proactive and I said, you know, I said no, I'm not leaving. I'm comfortable here man, please don't you try to convince me, he eventually talked to my family, he convinced me and I said OK.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:15:16
And then I said, you know what I looked at, 'cause I was in the travel industry so I looked at his itinerary and I said, man, you're connecting in Japan and I've never been to Japan. Why don't we stop over there? I'd love to see Japan and I'm telling you this, 'cause it's really heavy in this story, holds a really, you know, heavy place in my heart as well as to how God operates and how fantastic everything is. We were like, literally three days before we were supposed to leave, we were going to go to Tokyo for four days and then continue on to the Philippines and I finally got excited about traveling and I said, you know, why don't I watch some videos about Japan? And then I started watching on YouTube, there was a video about 25 things to do in Tokyo and I was like super excited and then it auto-played to a video, Nine things or seven things not to do while in Japan and I started watching that and #4 on the list was do not bring any illegal drugs into the country, that includes prescription medication that may not be legal in the country, and it talked about a Toyota executive that got arrested and ended up in jail for I think like 40 days or something and fighting their case and it was a legal prescription that they had brought in from the United States, but it was not approved to be imported into the country, and so I went right away to the Japanese immigration and import, you know, site and started searching up and I see now both my medications were on this banned list and you had to get prior approval from their health ministry to bring it into the country and there was no time left and there's no way in hell they would have allowed me to bring that much opiate.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:16:51
They would have thought like I was a dealer 'cause I was on a high dosage. And so I literally called my buddy and I said, hey, listen, we gotta cancel trip and he said, listen, we've gone through this 100 times you're coming, it's done and unless you wanna be going back and forth between jail and to my lawyers for me, you're not going to want to take me on this trip and so we canceled, it was devastating and I went into the darkest place in my life. I just spiraled out of control. My depression went out of control, became suicidal and it was only my faith at that point that kept me alive. And that's where I started talking to God and I said, you know, if this is it, then you you gotta take me out of this, right?
Fawad Kalsi - 0:17:34
And so my parents, when they heard that it was cancelled, you know, God bless them too, and they said, you know, why don't you and your wife travel to somewhere you can legally travel? Just get a change of scenery. So we ended up going to the states. We ended up going to San Francisco and for the last 10 days of 2016 we stayed there till New Years and on New Year's Eve, that's where the miracle happened. New Year's Eve we came back from the fireworks back to the hotel and I couldn't sleep.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:17:59
So I turned on the TV and I started watching an episode of Law and Order. There was literally nothing else on TV. I ended up seeing this episode on Ibogaine and how it helped this heroin addict pretty much, you know, help solve them their, solve their case and I don't want to go through the story, but
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:18:21
On Law and Order? This is where you learned about Ibogaine? That's so funny.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:18:27
Yeah, for like six months prior I was researching on how to kick the opioid habit and I couldn't find anything, you know, other than the mainstream, like rehab and this and that, you know, and I never ever came across Ibogain or Iboga. Lo' and behold this Law and Order episode. And then I turned to my wife right after and I said, hey, heroin's from the same family and she's like why would you believe in what Hollywood's like, throwing out there, right? And they're taking on the Pharmaceutical industry in that episode and saying that, you know, they don't work on cures and that's why I believe it's not available. They work on, you know, just maintenance and making sure they have a customer always. She says why would you believe what the Hollywood's pitching?
Fawad Kalsi - 0:19:08
And I said, you know what, I don't know, but I didn't understand why we were in San Francisco, I was grouchy the whole time, I didn't want to be here. I know now that I came, I was brought here for this reason, and I started researching like a madman as soon as I typed in, Iboga like a gamut of information came up online. I started watching videos and people's experiences, and I was going to go to Mexico. And, you know, I ran into a friend and she told me that why were you going to Mexico and I said, well, it's not legal here and she said who said it's not legal? I said well in Law and Order it was illegal and she's like is that the basis of your research and I said, well, I would assume that you know US and Canada is similar.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:19:49
So if it's illegal in the states then it should be illegal here too. She's like no, it's actually unregulated here, and there's a treatment center right in West Vancouver. So that's where I met my angel, Trevor Miller. So I contacted him. He was fascinated by this story.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:20:04
He said that, you know, we treat people that are recreationally abusing, but we want your case because you're someone that has been medically mismanaged. You've not used anything recreationally, so you know, welcome aboard and we'll see you in March. And that was January and so he booked me in for March. And that's where my journey with Ibogaine started.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:20:30
What was that like for you to finally have this sense of, there's something that can help, and return of some hope? And then I, of course, I want to hear what the treatment was like for you.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:20:43
I was excited. I was super naive because I underestimated the power of Iboga. I watched a lot of videos and I just thought I was going to take some tree root.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:20:54
Like drink a tea.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:20:55
And yeah I just thought I was going to take these, you know, capsules and I was going to see green men jump around and they're going to talk to me and they're gonna laugh and I'm gonna be like funny for a bit and I'll wake up and I'll be cured. I mean, it was nothing like that. It was life changing and we have to remember like I never used anything in my life and so like I had no understanding about psychedelics other than what I've seen in TV or movies. And just like some wavy patterns and like you know, the 60s and the 70s lights flashing and that was psychedelics for me, but I had hope again like, I mean, like I knew from New Year's Eve, January 1st that I had found the solution.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:21:40
You just felt that in your soul you just, you knew?
Fawad Kalsi - 0:21:43
Yeah, because everything, like I told you like, I was leading up to it. Like, everything happened when I was cornered in and I asked and I was given. The relationship with God for me, changed from like, this journey actually changed my relationship with God from a textbook relationship, from belief to conviction. That's the best way that I can explain it. And so I knew that his plan was in fact, it had kicked in January 1st like that's why I was there. I had no understanding as to why I was in San Francisco and I was absolutely bitter.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:22:16
I was in the worst possible place in my life and all of a sudden I see this episode January 1st and I knew right away I was like, I'm on to something and here it is. Like let's just go with the flow because it's going to happen and I was excited but I was still naive and I didn't know the power of psychedelics. I didn't know how deep Iboga is and I have to say it's not for recreational use. So I mean, it's not something that someone would ever do for fun.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:22:47
Talk to me about what the experience was like for you taking the medicine. Did you see little green men that jumped around and you were all better? It sounds like it was different than that.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:22:55
Oh yeah, I did see the little green men though. I've seen them at one point and they were fighting the Opioids, but the experience was amazing, frightening, it was the scariest thing I've ever done in my life, with probably the best results. Scary in the sense that I was so sensitive to anything. That when they started me off at the treatment center using a microdose, so they do that for everyone, there was three of us getting treated at the same time. It's a really professional operation. You know, had nurses and doctors check in and stuff like that.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:23:25
Had a therapist that would come in and had a shaman that would come in and like everything, like it was really professional and spiritual and so they started me off with a microdose and the microdoses is just supposed to check how my body would react to it just to make sure that I didn't have any sort of allergies or anything, so, and to take a step back before I was even allowed to the treatment center, they did an ECG, had an ECG done and they had some liver tests done and stuff like that. They go through the protocol and I checked out as fine like, you know, I met the requirements and then when I went in, you know, the microdose, it's just supposed to check how you actually react and I actually went on a full fledged psychedelic journey on the microdose, which was pretty cool for Trevor and his team to see. But as soon as it kicked in, the microdose, I found myself in a grave in the middle of a desert wrapped in two pieces of white cloth and it was a beautiful sunny day with clear blue skies and that was the freakiest thing I've ever seen in my life. That's how my journey started and I just tried to wiggle myself out of this two cloth and I was like, oh my God, I'm dead. I died like, this is the stupidest thing I ever did.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:24:41
Let's do this and now I'm dead and I was trying to wiggle out of it and then I just started hearing chants of prayers from Mecca and I started seeing the House of God in Mecca, the Kaaba, as it's known, and I started seeing people walking around it and chanting prayers, and I just, you know, opened my eyes and started crying and bawling to my wife and I said, save me, help me, I'm gone, you know, literally my heart was shaking and it was so real for me, the experience and then, you know, I was told to close my eyes again and just relaxed. Because you know, if you get frightened, just open your eyes and you can close them again. And I did so and then I see myself running towards this amazing light like I've never seen before and I had two steel suitcases in my hand and I was running, running, running. I don't know why I was running and all of a sudden the steel suitcases fell out of my hand and they opened up and they were empty and I literally fell to the ground and I started bawling my eyes again and just crying and literally, physically I was, in this world, I was shaking as well, I was bawling my eyes out. And you know, after that my wife wasn't allowed, like after the microdose, my wife wasn't allowed to be here because it's hard for the family to see that as well.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:26:05
How deeply the medicine touched you, this core awareness of life and death and the possibility of your death.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:26:14
Oh yeah, I look back and I see myself like, just that little tidbit about me running towards the light. I felt like I was running towards God and when the suitcases emptied up that was my like, I mean when they fell to the ground and they were empty, I'd seen my life and it was empty and I fell to the ground because I had nothing prepared. Well, I was taking nothing with me to God and I had nothing prepared so I felt like I was a failure and that's why I was bawling, was that I wasted my time in this life and I didn't prepare for my meeting with my creator and that's what I took away from that. That's what I was experiencing at that time. That's what I was going through, and that's just the microdose I'm talking about.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:26:57
Like the Microdose itself lasted like it felt like it lasted like a year. And then imagine the smaller doses. And then the flood dose. The flood dose is something where I was under for like 12 to 18 hours. I can't remember exactly, but I was under, yeah, so the journey changed my life.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:27:13
It was the hardest thing I've ever experienced in my life to deal with that. I dealt with things like my past. I dealt with things, small or big, it depends on people, as my siblings calling me names when I was kids or even getting bullied in school or the things that I had wronged others with right? Like the things that I had done wrong to others, I had to deal with all of that. It came all up in that journey and there was a warrior within me that woke up and you know, that just dealt with them.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:27:44
And then there was a fictitious sword that came out of nowhere and I just started ripping these memories and this life experience up and to be honest, after that happened, after I went through that, I've never been burdened again about my life like it was like I was free. My soul was free from those burdens
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:28:06
Like all of the pain that you had carried from various experiences? Sort of, you dealt with in that big journey with your sword and you're free from it.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:28:16
Absolutely you hit it on the head and you could still access it like I could still access the memories. It didn't delete the memories, it's just that they don't burden me anymore. So I was walking around and you don't realize how much you're burdened and I didn't know I was burdened with all that because I realized after all of it had sort of disappeared or went into archives, it had been retired within the database of our systems or our brains, is when I realized, like oh my God, I spent so many years dealing with this pain. And, you know, the burden of all this and that's why it led me to this dependency, right? That's the only sense that I could make of how someone like me that thought he had everything going right in his life ended up being this addict and that's the only thing that allowed me to understand that it was you walking around with all this pain.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:29:11
And when it disappeared, it really felt like I was Fawad Version 2.0, it was a brand new me.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:29:20
And the desire for the Oxycontin was gone immediately, like in that day it ended?
Fawad Kalsi - 0:29:29
No, so not with the microdose. So I was in a treatment center for eight days. I was supposed to be there for 10 days, so they do the microdose and then they want to stack within your system and lead you up to the flood dose. So after the microdose I wanted to run away from the center, I didn't want to do it again and they were, God bless Trevor 'cause he said listen man, that is the most amazing experience I've heard of someone having, you know, and he had treated over 200 clients and he said someone on a microdose and he was, you know, that's why he said, I always said that come into these treatments spiritually strong and you'll benefit from them, right? And so he goes, knowing that you were coming into it spiritually strong, I'm amazed at what happened to you on the microdose. So he goes please, he goes, you know, this is just, can you, like you know, you've experienced a little bit.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:30:16
I said I got what I needed. Now I'm done. See you later. Thank you very much, goodbye. I'm out of here. I said I never want to do this again.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:30:24
Don't even try to convince me and said he's like, listen, aren't you a little bit curious about who's gonna come out on the other side once this is all done. He goes, I'm super excited, he goes, aren't you excited and he goes why don't you leave, if you're supposed to be here tomorrow, leave that up to Allah, you know, leave that up to God and if you're going to be here let yourself be and leave yourself up to God and if not that means you're not destined for this, right? And he goes, so you don't make the decision. Let God make that decision for you. And that was some of the most powerful things that he said to me and I ended up caving and I stayed.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:30:59
And so the small-dose, and they do that for a couple days and then the fourth day they do the flood dose. The flood dose is the big dose and that's a ceremonial dose. So I was under for, I think, 12 or 16 hours and after that there's several days that it takes you to recover and there's like therapies that you go through like massage and this and that and they try to give you strength and feed you really well and go to a day of reflection and sorrow and there's a lot of emotions and you're sort of processing, your body's processing, your brain is processing, so by the eighth day, like actually by the seventh day I was like, hey listen Trevor, once I got out of the flood dose I was no longer an opioid addict. I didn't have any desire, it was gone. So right up to the flood dose I was pretty much done with Opioids, but I still had in me, there was a bit of it that kept on coming back and saying that hey I need it.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:31:57
I need it. I'm feeling pain, I'm feeling pain and I need the Opioids but once the flood dose it just sort of knocked it out of me. I woke up, I wasn't even thinking about Opioids. I was just thinking about how to get stronger to get out here and I wanted to be with my daughter, my sons and I was just itching to get out and Trevor was like listen, you need to get stronger and healthier and you don't want your kids to see you in this weakened state, so let's just stay, you gotta stay and I said, I'm cured, I'm cured, I'm free and I gotta leave and so they held me back till eight days and then I just said see you later, I'm not staying here anymore and I ran off to my kids and family and the amazing part is that since March of 2017 I have not touched a single pill or any sort of drugs and I was cured of my pancreatitis same time. So I got a clean bill of health since I came back, my doctor, he was shocked and he literally made me do a urine test after about a month of me being cured to make sure that I wasn't secretly using Opioids 'cause he was like, I just went to him and I said listen, I'm good. I don't need that prescription anymore and I just want to make sure that everything is OK with me.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:33:08
Can you send me off for some blood work? And he's like what do you mean you don't need a prescription? You just went from like this much to zero? Are you kidding me? And then he's like OK I want you to come back in a month to get tested again just to make sure that you're not secretly taking anything, and that's how shocked he was.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:33:25
Like how I went from so many Opioids to zero in a matter of eight days.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:33:33
So I'd like to shift a little bit and talk about how you've integrated this experience with your faith. Although it sounds like every piece of this journey had an element of faith with it, right, it wasn't like you went off and did this thing and then came back to faith. It was that this medicine and this care presented itself because you came to the point of pleading with God for help.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:33:59
Yeah, but it did change my faith like quite a bit.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:34:03
Fawad Kalsi - 0:34:04
Like for me Allah, God, I was born into the religion, I was taught the religion. I really never questioned why I believe what I believe. I was just told it's the perfect religion and never asked myself. I went on to boarding school and I studied and I memorized and for me God was always this textbook identity that; don't do wrong or else you're gonna get punished and never really understood who He is. And I refer to He as in the Old English. It's not as in the male or female context, so for those that are watching or listening, it's just the way. So I don't want to offend anybody in this day and age.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:34:41
For me, God, that's how I've always referred to Him as a Him or He, I don't wanna offend anybody and that's my belief, so that's for me. So I used to think of God as an identity that I didn't really know and I just feared and I, sort of, just really, it was a textbook identity and I believed in Him. But I realized God, after going through this Iboga journey. I've seen everything in that journey except God himself. I heard him. I felt him.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:35:16
I realized him.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:35:19
Like you've met him more personally for the first time? Or realized, you realized him? That's such a poignant word.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:35:27
Yeah, I realized him. I can't undo that anymore. I know he exists. I realized him and there's nothing in the world, anyone or anyone can do or say, to take that away from me now. It's like you know what, when you taste something sweet in your life and you taste something salty, it's not going to be undone. You know what sweet is, and you know what salty is.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:35:51
And so God went from an identity, you know, a textbook identity in my mind to an actual identity. I realized him. I know who he is. I talked to him. I communicate with him now and I see all the benefits of what my faith was teaching me and it all started making sense.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:36:10
So I describe it as going from a Conservative Orthodox type Muslim to a Sufi Muslim. Like I went to oh my God, there's no boundaries between the relationship that I can have with my creator, like I can just keep on climbing up this ladder and there is no boundaries like you know, and it totally changed the way I've seen life. The way I've seen God and it was really because of this journey and it was because I went through the experience of Iboga, before that I was just following like a robot and preaching like a robot. But now I actually, when I preach as well, I give tangible examples and it was beautiful like some of the stuff that I learned in the journey when I shared it with my congregants. They're mind-blown, they're just like, this is amazing. It just makes so much more sense, what you're talking about. And so yes, it totally changed my faith.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:37:13
I'm still a Muslim. I still believe in the oneness of God, but the relationship side is what completely changed. It's like God is a part of me. I am a part of God. Like you know, I came from God and like there's verses in the Quran that you know I'd read and I'd kind of like, you know, just understood because of what I thought they meant.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:37:35
There's a verse in the Quran that says you came from God and you shall return to God and so for me it was like OK, he created us and we're going to go back. We're gonna die one day, but for me now that same verse means you came from God. So you're a piece of this identity like you came from that cloth or that material or whatever it is and you shall return. You will go back to that same source, and so it's so much more deeper. Everything. Even when I read the Quran, I'm like oh my God I'm blown away, this means something completely different from what I used to think it was.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:38:07
And so I've got this like secondary level of understanding now.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:38:16
You know, many people across history and tradition have used psychedelics as a way of accessing the divine, sort of, using these medications as a form of spiritual experience, and what are your thoughts on that? If you were to encounter other Muslims who might say, I want this deeper, richer experience of God, maybe I should use psychedelics as a way to to help me access that.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:38:46
I would say that if God wants you to be exposed or he wants you to use psychedelics or whatever, it may, out there, it will call you itself. These things weren't created by someone other than God. If you believe in God, then you know that everything is connected; everything was created by the same source, and so within that source we today, me and you Sherry, we're connected somehow, and we're talking, so we were called to each other and now we're speaking. And just like that, another creation of God, which is plants, plant medicine, or you know, whatever it may be out in this amazing world that we live in, will call you to that. And if that call happens, then just go with the flow and go with God's plan.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:39:36
But do I recommend people going and searching? I haven't till today recommend it to any of my friends that, you know, they hear my spiritual journey and I say Ibogaine is not just a joke. It's the hardest thing I ever did in my life and I felt that I was gone for 40 years. Time stops on Ibogaine, right? There's no concept of time and so to come out and come back and be here today is a huge blessing and it's not easy.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:40:04
So I don't recommend it to people to just go and jump in on this. It's not an easy task, but if it calls you to it or if there's a need like my sense like, or if there's addiction; people that have addictions and there's a purpose behind it, then yeah, absolutely go for it. There's something that you're trying to achieve. You know, if it's about spirituality, then then it will call you itself. That would be my opinion now, and as far as the past, yes, there is historical evidence that even in our religion, that there were dervishes and Sufi Saints and scholars that did use plant medicines to reach a higher level of connection.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:40:34
But again, it wasn't something that was occurring mainstream, and because, again, I believe that it's something that if it's going to happen, it's going to call you and it's going to happen, and so that would be my answer in a nutshell, I would not tell everybody to jump on. I don't think there's a one set solution for everybody. I think, you know, certain plants are going to suit your creation and they're in alignment with who you are, and they're going to help support you, and for certain people it might be Iboga, for certain people it might be some other plant; marijuana or someone it might be psilocybin mushrooms, or whatever it may be, but that particular plant or avenue will call you according to your need, and that's the message I say. Stop depending on these man-made, you know, lab created solutions and start searching for the solution. And even in our religion, for those that are part of my faith, you know, the Prophet, peace be upon Him, told us that God has created a cure for every illness, sickness out there, with the exception of death.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:41:44
You need to go search for it. So if you go search for it you will find your solution and somehow that's what happened to me. My solution came from a tree root in West Africa. Yours might come from a blade of grass in Wyoming somewhere, right? I don't know where yours might come from, so that would be my recommendation to everyone is that if it calls you then go for it.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:42:10
Just go with the flow because it's meant for you.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:42:15
One of the interesting things about having this conversation in religious context is that, for many of us who adhere to a faith, there's this sense that the righteous living or that, you know, living in such a way that honors God usually means we don't do drugs, and so obviously some of the cultural conversation around psychedelics has been clustered in with that sort of 1960s like, let's go do drugs man and obviously your context of using Iboga was very very different than you know, sitting around in the basement to get high, but I think that's some of the challenge with people in religious communities or anybody who is just really careful about wanting to live in a- it's right.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:43:07
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:43:08
Yep, a righteous, sort of, holy, careful life. So I guess I'm curious if you've had conversations within your community about the nuance there.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:43:19
Basically, that's my mission is to break the stigma and that's what I've been doing since I recovered is that, when I was going through what I went through, there was nothing in my community. There was no resources available. There's no support available, and so a lot of it has to do with oh, you know, a lot of these kind of problems, like withdrawals or people on drugs, are kind of like, washed up under the rug, are like swept up under the rug and they get labeled as possessions, or someone is affected or has some illness or blah blah blah. And the reality is, they're actually addicted and they're going through withdrawals, and that's why they're shaking. And that's why they're acting weird and lashing out at you.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:43:53
It's not a possession by the demons, and so my goal was to break the stigma and say addictions are an illness. OK, one of my messages to everybody is that we're OK and we trust people with white lab coats that give us drugs. Those are drugs. What God created in its nature, OK, I don't call them drugs, I call them plant medicines, and so who decided that this plant is dangerous and this is not dangerous. OK, I've sent an article that I read that there's scorpion venom, it's one of the most expensive substances in the world because apparently, the scorpion venom, if it's injected into cancer in one's body, it actually eats up the cancer without affecting the rest of the body.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:44:39
It just targets in and so well, you know what, it was naturally created and then state it goes in line with what our faith tells us, that there is a cure for every illness except death. So you're OK with trusting someone with a white lab coat that is working for a capitalistic system, that is just about money making and they're putting stuff in your body and then listing off 100 side effects, and that's OK because it's called medicine and comes from someone called a doctor. But when it comes to trying grass or a dandelion, you know, that was created by your creator, who created you, we start freaking out. So that's when my message is that, hey, listen, let's break the stigma. Let's stop freaking out. It's a drug, it's a plant and treat it like a plant and if it can help you. cure you and help you in your life, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. God wants you to be healthy and happy 'cause he loves you.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:45:41
My message has been really loud and clear, is that, you know what, yes, if you're going to... I'm against using things recreationally just for fun, yes they can hurt you absolutely. I'm against that and I don't recommend that. But if it's something that can help you medically and help you improve your life and your journey in this world, our journey that's called life, then by all means there is room within our religion for you to cure yourself and help yourself and improve your life, standard of living. But recreationally, if you just want to go party and get high and all that, yeah, I'm not talking about that and that's, you know, I want to stay away from even dabbling into that conversation.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:46:30
Do you get pushback in your community when you talk about this?
Fawad Kalsi - 0:46:34
Actually, no. The community was really receptive. We did, we obviously get a little bit of pushback, but we ended up creating the Muslim Care Center, I wasn't a part of the creation of Muslim Care Center, it's on the east side of Vancouver, but we created division within it, recoveries and addictions. We started a roadshow, started going around all the Islamic centers and mosques around the lower mainland and we were received with open arms and people were like, I was always the speaker at these events and I would share my story as an Imam and said that, hey, listen, I can be addicted too. So stop being so hard on your family members that are suffering as well, and they've made these choices. So if someone like me can stand up in front of you, you look up to me and you listen to me, but I went through the same thing, then it can happen to any one of us and we got it treated like an illness. And so that's how we started and we were welcomed with open arms and like, you know, a sigh of relief sort of occurred in the community collectively saying that, hey, can't believe there's someone talking about this finally. We are flourishing and being able to help people and we have hotlines now.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:47:40
People can talk and, you know, communicate and then there's groups. We've created this system where they can choose their path to recovery so it doesn't have to be plant medicine. It could be, you know, the 12 step program. It can be Narcotics Anonymous or whatever the case they want to do. We've made those available in the community now and you choose so whatever is calling you, in your journey, then you go down that path and you try and if that doesn't work then go try the next avenue and so it was really received well by the community.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:48:11
Well I think we're approaching the end of our hour here and I am so grateful for your willingness to share your story in such detail and then talk through how it's shaped your faith and the work that you're doing. Anything that feels really important to say that I haven't asked you yet or?
Fawad Kalsi - 0:48:30
No, actually, this has probably been one of the more thorough conversations I've had and the one where I'm more 'laxed so I really appreciate the sort of atmosphere that you create and the ability that you allow us to share our story and you ask the questions that are important so I don't think you really missed anything. I mean I am trying to write a book about my journey and the intention behind it is to support, you know, breaking the stigma further not only for our community and, you know, other religions have the same nuances, right? So I want to share that and then I also wanted to leave something behind for my children so they actually get to know who their father really was and I wasn't just their father that they, sort of, you know, whatever is in their mind and that's the picture, I want them to know the real me and the vulnerable me and the weak me and the one that gained strength and how I gained strength. So yeah, I'm trying to do that and I do want to tell people that there's always hope. Faith is a superpower and to have faith, there's always hope and I think that's what unites us all, is that faith gives us hope.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:49:35
And so if you are on the fence about faith, I think you should just go with the flow and ask for the guidance. Ask and you shall receive. That's the only thing that I would tell people, is that ask and you will receive. Ask for guidance and then just let yourself be guided. I promise you there's a solution for everything in this world.
Fawad Kalsi - 0:49:57
You just need to get it. The only exception, and this is my belief, is that there's a solution for everything except death, so go and find that solution and it will come. But you need to let yourself go with the flow and stop being your own biggest roadblock.
Dr. Sherry Walling - 0:50:22
Thanks for diving into that conversation with us. As we shared in Episode 15, MindCure Health is actively working on a new synthetic form of Ibogaine, with the hopes that this compound can offer hope and healing to others, like Fawad. If you are curious about their work or the many other things that MindCure is doing to move forward the conversation around psychedelics and healing, please check us out at mindcure.com and on any major social media platform, We don't want to do this work in a vacuum, so if you are listening, if you're curious, if you have questions, if you have comments and feedback, please let us know. Get in touch by social media, by email, through the website. We'd love to hear from you. Thank you so much for listening and stay curious.