Ayahuasca, anti-drug hallucinogen
Dr. Jacques Mabit is a French doctor specializing in traditional medicines, who defines himself as “an academically trained therapist, a doctor who practices a part of healing. He directs Takiwasi, the research center he created, in Tarapoto, in the upper Peruvian Amazon, a small town that thanks to its geographical location, offers a great diversity of ethno-medicinal traditions.
Familiar with the practices of the healers he met during his travels, this veteran of humanitarian action (Doctors Without Borders) arrived in Peru in 1986 to conduct research on the traditional medicines of the Amazon basin. During his study with shamans, the doctor meets Ayahuasca, a liana that healers and witch doctors claim to have knowledge of. A “master plant” from which they extract a hallucinogenic drink and which they hold in great respect.
Not very inclined to take “drugs”, the doctor, however, decides to experiment with the “Liana of the Soul” to try to understand.
He then initiated himself in the company of an Ayahuasquero Master, to the “Vegetalist” medicine, he took Ayahuasca and engaged in a demanding learning process: – If I really wanted to know this tradition, the practice of age-old shamanic cures, which correspond neither to European medical standards nor to Western philosophy, I had to go further than the simple description.
– I found that the use of Ayahuasca induces the perception of phenomena that are otherwise indiscernible, processes that take years to understand. We are applying this method at Takiwasi, in order to reach a point where Western medicine can access this millennial knowledge, and then learn and apply this knowledge to the treatment of contemporary problems.
The rehabilitation of drug addicts, particularly numerous in this region of Peru, is the main activity of the center, (heroin, cocaine, alcohol…) the treatment is based on the free choice of the patients who commit themselves to abstinence. About ten are housed in the center, few foreigners, mainly French, Peruvians are the main contingent. Until recently, Tarapoto was one of the cocaine trafficking capitals of the world, and basuco use was common among the poor.
Takiwasi is a villa without floors, located in the heart of a botanical and vegetable garden, without fences and punctuated by the center’s premises.
The treatment, which lasts nine months, consists of diets, retreats in the forest, ingestion of detoxifying plants and ceremonial taking of Ayahuasca, under the guidance of shamans employed by the center.
Detoxification and hallucinogen seem contradictory, however, the method seems to be effective, according to Dr. Mabit, 4 out of 10 patients manage to wean themselves off it permanently. Moreover, Ayahuasca, which the Peruvians familiarly call “La Purga”, is not suitable for recreational use and does not create any dependency. There are other examples of “psychedelic” treatments around the world, often based on equivalent principles (Iboga, Harmines, etc.).
The purges and diets that precede the ceremonial taking of Ayahuasca allow for the elimination of toxins and the disappearance of physical withdrawal, while the psychoactive properties of the drink place the subject in a state of deep introspection, facing himself and his choices; a sort of express psychoanalysis.
– “We consider that the addict is looking for another reality behind the daily routine, and that this search may be legitimate. Because he feels bad in life, that he feels lonely, empty and anxious, that this anxiety can express an existential search to no longer feel limited and imprisoned, that’s why I tell him: “you want to get high, OK, get high, but you’re making a bad choice… you’re killing yourself. If you want to access other levels of consciousness and other realities, you must do so in the appropriate way. We’ll even go with you. What we suggest to patients is that they explore their own inner world, find out what is going on in their lives, and then, in their own words, differentiate what is important from what is not. “.
The weekly intake of Ayahuasca gives rise to a ritual, in which all the members of the multidisciplinary team which has formed around Dr. Mabit take part, in all about ten people including a psychologist, botanists, two Ayahuasquero healers and trainees who are responsible for accompanying and assisting the patients during their cure.
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