How Ayahuasca Can Revolutionize Psychotherapy

A look at the psychoactive brew that brings users a spiritual payoff for their "work"

Not long after Rush returned home, he gave up smoking for good.

"I had quit before, but this time was different," he says. "It's like I have no memory of smoking. I don't have any tactile memory in my hands. That was a year and a half ago, and I haven't had a cigarette."

Having studied addiction science for 30 years, Rush asked the retreat center what data it had. The answer was: not much. When he realized that other, similar programs also lacked decent evaluation data, he decided to change that.

In a greenhouse at the University of Minnesota, Dennis McKenna tends to one of two key plants used to prepare ayahuasca
Emily Utne
In a greenhouse at the University of Minnesota, Dennis McKenna tends to one of two key plants used to prepare ayahuasca
The leaves of the Banisteriopsis vine
Emily Utne
The leaves of the Banisteriopsis vine

"I said, 'I am in your service,'" he recalls.

The Indiegogo campaign funded the project team's first planning meeting, the kickoff of a study that will be several years long. The meeting took place in Peru at the end of October, and brought together 40 international researchers to help design the project.

They decided that ATOP will be an umbrella over studies in several South American countries, each looking at ayahuasca in the treatment of drug and alcohol abuse. By the end, the researchers hope to have definite answers on whether addicts treated with ayahuasca see a verifiable reduction in alcohol and drug-related harms.

"It's real clear that all we have now is kind of anecdotal evidence, and small studies with short-term follow-up," says Rush. "This is a potential approach that a lot of people have some confidence in, and at least enough confidence to say, 'We need more studies. We need to know more.'"

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ESCouncil
ESCouncil

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