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    holding hands ayahuasca drug addiction ICEERS study

    Ayahuasca and the Treatment of Drug Addiction


    Ayahuasca and the treatment of drug addiction

    José Carlos Bouso, and Jordi Riba.

    The Therapeutic Use of Ayahuasca



    About the study

    This study, entitled “Ayahuasca and the Treatment of Drug Addiction,” constitutes the chapter number 6 in the book The Therapeutic Use of Ayahuasca (pp. 95-109), published by Springer in November 2014 as part of a project called Psychoactive Plants and Public Health. Beatriz Caiuby Labate and Clancy Cavnar were the editors of this volume.

    The study begins by describing what ayahuasca is and who its users are. Then, the authors review the studies published on its neuropsychopharmacology and long-term effects, before discussing its potential for the treatment of drug addiction.

    The conclusions suggest that evidence on the efficacy of ayahuasca to treat drug addiction is scarce. However, it seems that in highly ritualized setting ayahuasca can be useful for drug-dependent patients. Consequently, future studies on the different factors involved in the potential therapeutic effects of ayahuasca should be performed.



    The public health impact of addiction, with its high relapse rates and the limited efficacy of available treatments, has prompted the search for alternative therapeutic approaches. In recent times, there has been renewed interest in the anti-addictive potential of psychedelics. Consumption of ayahuasca, the N,N-dimethyltryptamine-containing Amazonian plant tea, is experiencing unprecedented expansion. The ritual use of this brew, obtained from Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis, in shamanistic and religious contexts is now popular in Europe and North America. Studies of long-term ayahuasca-church members in Brazil have recorded discontinuation of drug use after starting ayahuasca use. Furthermore, several centers that offer therapies based on ayahuasca as a means to treat addictive behavior claim higher success rates than more traditional approaches. In this chapter, we review the pharmacology of ayahuasca and the data available concerning its efficacy in the treatment of drug addiction.

    Although the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca, based on the evidence examined, is promising, the lack of systematic studies precludes firm conclusions. Ideally, research methodology should be improved, with future studies implementing well-planned clinical protocols with adequate controls, end-points, and follow-up.


    Link to the article


    Contact ICEERS Research team

    Photo by Rainier Ridao on Unsplash.

    Categories: Studies & papers , Ayahuasca
    Tags: ayahuasca , scientific research , study , psychoactive , psychedelics , hallucinogens , drug dependence , addiction treatment , neuropsychology , substance use disorders , book chapter