A Psychotherapeutic View on the Therapeutic Effects of Ritual Ayahuasca Use in the Treatment of Addiction


Loizaga-Velder, A., and Loizaga, A. A psychotherapeutic view on therapeutic effects of ritual ayahuasca use in the treatment of addiction MAPS Bulletin (2013) 23(1):36-40.


Ayahuasca is a traditional plant preparation of the Amazon basin with psychoac- tive properties. In recent decades ayahuasca has gained the attention of researchers in multiple disciplines worldwide due to its acclaimed therapeutic and spiritual qualities. It is an admixture of two plants: the harmaline containing vine Banisteriopsis caapi, and the DMT-containing leafs from the Psychotria viridis bush. It is typically administered by a trained expert in a ritual context.
The use of ayahuasca has spread beyond the Amazon in the last few decades, reaching around the globe in contexts of religious, shamanic, psychotherapeutic, and hybrid ayahuasca rituals (Labate & Jungaberle 2011;Tupper 2008). Many participants report gaining benefits from ayahuasca rituals in ways such as acquiring deeper knowl- edge of oneself, personal and spiritual development, or healing for a variety of psycho- logical and physiological afflictions, including substance dependencies (see Groisman & Dobkin de Rios 2007; Labate et al. 2013; Labate et al. 2010; Mercante 2009; Santos, Carvalho de Moraes & Holanda 2006; Schmid 2008;Thesenga & Thesenga 2012).
Based on observations of the positive therapeutic effects that ayahuasca ceremo- nies can have on people with addiction issues, informal and formal support for recovery from addictions is currently provided in diverse settings.These include rituals offered by indigenous healers, ayahuasca circles, or psychotherapists, and more or less struc- tured ayahuasca-assisted, inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment programs. Such approaches are rooted either in indigenous Amazonian medicine traditions, the Bra- zilian Ayahuasca Religions, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, or consist in a hybrid combination of these. Some multidisciplinary intercultural pilot projects have shown

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