For inquiries regarding the utilization of ethnobotanicals, or in case you are experiencing an adverse situation or difficulty integrating and experience, please read this page. For inquiries regarding legal support , please read this page.

  • We don’t offer sessions of ayahuasca or iboga.
  • We don’t recommend centers or people who perform/do sessions.

    map mapa marcador ICEERS


    Carrer de Sepúlveda, 65 , Oficina 2, 08015 Barcelona España +34 931 88 20 99
    ayahuasca Spain

    The Custom of Taking Ayahuasca in Spain

    Carlos Suárez Álvarez and ICEERS | 11 October 2023

    Spain has a decades long context for ayahuasca ceremonial practices. Despite a reported low prevalence of ayahuasca consumption, our investigation highlights the distinctive characteristics of Spanish ayahuasca drinkers. Governmental agencies conducting drug consumption surveys often do not include questions about ayahuasca. This lack of information can be attributed to several factors. In the Americas, notable surveys have been conducted in Brazil and Colombia, reflecting the significant cultural importance of ayahuasca in these countries. In Europe, surveys have been carried out in the Czech Republic and Spain.

    The Spanish survey known as EDADES draws attention to the issue of categorizing ayahuasca. The survey classifies ayahuasca as a “new psychoactive substance,” and according to the report, “mimics the effects of illegal drugs (cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, etc.). These new substances (keta, spice, synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cannabis, miau miau, flakka, superman, cathinones, mephedrone, fentanyl derivatives, methoxetamine, NBOMe, ayahuasca, kratom, etc.) can be found in the form of herbs, pills, powders, liquids, incense, etc.” This categorization is inaccurate, as ayahuasca is neither new nor mimics the effects of unregulated drugs. Unfortunately, the authors of the report were not aware of this misinformation.

    This misclassification has significant implications as policymakers may base decisions, including sentencing individuals to prison, on this false information. It underscores the importance of accurate and informed categorization and reporting in drug surveys, especially when it concerns medicines with deep cultural and historical significance like ayahuasca.

    Important Tradition, Low Prevalence?

    The EDADES survey reveals a surprising trend in ayahuasca consumption rates among different countries analyzed (for an in-depth look, refer to the full report). In Spain, the prevalence of ayahuasca consumption in the general population was the lowest among the countries analyzed, with rates of 0.2% in 2019 and 0.1% in 2018. In comparison, the Czech Republic had a rate of 0.5%, the Netherlands 0.42%, and Estonia 0.27%. In the Americas, Brazil had a rate of 0.37%, Colombia 0.8%, the United States 0.5%, and Uruguay 0.33%. Our estimates suggest that more than 60,000 people in Spain have tried ayahuasca at least once in their lives, with over 12,000 estimated to have done so in 2019 alone.

    The discrepancy in Spain’s low consumption rate is particularly surprising given the knowledge of the active ayahuasca movement in the country. To address this, a thorough review of unpublished information from the EDADES databases was conducted, revealing certain deficiencies that may explain this low prevalence. There were 74 surveyed individuals who stated they had tried ayahuasca in their lives in both 2018 and 2019.  Notably, only two of the surveyed individuals were from Catalonia, despite it having a larger population than other regions and a well-established ayahuasca community, one of the most important in Spain and Europe since the 1990s. This was compared to 16 from the area of Valencia, 13 from the Community of Madrid, and 12 from the Balearic Islands. This raises questions about potential methodological errors that may have underestimated the total number of ayahuasca ceremony participants in Spain.

    Who, How, When, Age

    Ayahuasca drinkers in Spain, like in many other countries, exhibit distinct characteristics that set them apart from those partaking in other substances. According to the EDADES survey, the average age for initiation into ayahuasca is 27 years, significantly higher than the initiation ages for alcohol (16 years), tobacco (16 years), cannabis (18 years), and psychedelics (20 years). The Global Survey of Ayahuasca Drinking (GSAD) had 270 respondents from Spain. They report an average initiation age of 35 and indicate that two in three people try ayahuasca after the age of 30. This suggests that people in Spain tend to explore ayahuasca at a later stage in life.

    Gender dynamics in ayahuasca consumption are also noteworthy. All genders take ayahuasca in nearly equal proportions, contrasting with other substances where gender disparities may exist. For example, the 2020 ICEERS study Ayahuasca in Spain noted that generally, “In the adult population, drug use among women is much lower than men.”

    In terms of education and occupations, Spanish ayahuasca drinkers tend to have higher educational levels compared to the national average. According to Santiago López-Pavillard, whose doctoral thesis Life as a Healing Process includes a characterization of ayahuasca ceremony participants in Spain in 2010, a significant portion holds graduate or postgraduate degrees. According to the GSAD, approximately 60% of those who partake in ayahuasca ceremonies in Spain work in managerial positions or have liberal professions.

    Ritual Context

    Ayahuasca stands out from other conciousness expanding substances due to the unique context in which it is typically taken. According to GSAD, 80% of ayahuasca users partake in ritual settings, guided by experienced therapists, shamans, or facilitators well-versed in administering the brew and ensuring the well-being of participants. This ritualistic approach to ayahuasca is consistent across various countries where research has been conducted.

    The age and social status of those who engage in ayahuasca ceremonies within this ritual context provide valuable insights. Despite ayahuasca ceremonies being a part of Spain’s cultural landscape for three decades, there is a notable absence of media reports associating ayahuasca consumption with fatalities. Our estimations indicate that around 60,000 ayahuasca servings are offered in Spain annually. We can assert with confidence that this Amazonian brew does not pose a threat to public health. In fact, emerging research over the years suggests that it may contribute positively to individuals’ well-being.

    A Final Note

    The exploration of ayahuasca statistics across four countries has uncovered diverse and intriguing facets of ayahuasca ceremonial participants. These findings shed light on the unique cultural, legal, and social contexts surrounding this powerful plant medicine. Our exploration underscores the importance of accurate reporting, responsible practices, and informed dialogue about ayahuasca. As the global interest in this plant medicine continues to grow, collaboration between public administrations and organizations is vital to ensure the safe and responsible integration of ayahuasca practices worldwide. We encourage further research and open discussions to support the well-being of individuals seeking the benefits of ayahuasca in a diverse range of cultural and legal contexts.

    Read more about the findings in the Executive Summary of Ayahuasca, Global Consumption & Reported Deaths in the Media. You can request the full 196-page report (available only in Spanish) here


    Further Reading & Resources

    AyaSafety Course- Increasing the Safety of Ayahuasca Sessions
    Research Highlight: Four Million People Have Taken Ayahuasca Worldwide
    Ayahuasca Tourism In-Depth: Revealing the Who, How, and Where
    Ayahuasca, Global Consumption & Reported Deaths in the Media
    Health Status of Ayahuasca-Ceremony Participants in the Netherlands
    Ayahuasca In Spain


    Photo by Caribb on Flickr.

    Categories: Ayadeath Report
    Tags: ayahuasca , Spain , death , consumption