Sponsored by MAPS Canada, this observational study investigated the safety and long-term effectiveness of ayahuasca treatment for individuals suffering from addiction and dependence. Combining Western psychotherapeutic techniques with South American shamanic (Vegetalista) healing practices, this study gathered preliminary evidence about the safety and effectiveness of ayahuasca-assisted therapy in a rural First Nations community in British Columbia, Canada. Treatment consisted of participation in a five-day retreat (facilitated by independent psychiatrist Gabor Maté, M.D.) including ayahuasca-assisted therapy, which may help reduce problematic substance use as well as addictions, compulsive behavior, and self-harming thought patterns.
Statistically significant improvements were shown for measures of hopefulness, empowerment, mindfulness, and quality of life. Self-reported alcohol, tobacco and cocaine use declined, although cannabis and opiate use did not—problematic cocaine use reductions were statistically significant. All study participants reported positive and lasting changes from participating in the retreats. These findings warrant more research of ayahuasca-assisted therapy for problematic substance use.