Ayahuasca-Assisted Treatment for Addiction (British Columbia, Canada)
Principal Investigator: Gerald Thomas, Ph.D.
Study Site: British Columbia, Canada
This study has been completed
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.
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.
This study was conducted in cooperation with a British Columbia First Nations band. The results were published in 2013 in the peer-reviewed journal Current Drug Abuse Reviews.
Gerald Thomas, Ph.D, Principal Investigator
Gerald Thomas is a Collaborating Scientist with the Centre for Addictions Research of BC. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Colorado State University in 1998 and has worked in the area of Canadian substance abuse policy since 2004. His areas of expertise include drug policy, alcohol policy, substance abuse treatment, harm reduction and complementary and alternative medicine. His training as a social scientist combined with direct experience using alternative methods to heal emotional trauma led to his current interest in assessing the healing potential of ayahuasca. Gerald lives with his fiancé in Summerland, BC, where he enjoys a variety of outdoor pursuits including mountain biking and windsurfing.
Kenneth Tupper, Ph.D, Co-Investigator
Kenneth Tupper is an Adjunct Professor at the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia, where his research interests include the cross-cultural and historical uses of psychoactive substances; public, professional and school-based drug education; and creating healthy public policy to maximize benefits and minimize harms from currently illegal drugs. Kenneth is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) Canada, and has been active in the field of psychedelic studies for more than fourteen years. His Ph.D. dissertation (and earlier M.A. thesis) in Education developed the concept of “entheogenic education,” a theoretical frame for understanding how psychedelic plants and substances—in particular the Amazonian brew ayahuasca—can function as cognitive tools for learning. More information about Kenneth and his academic interests can be found on his personal homepage.
N. Rielle Capler, MHA, Co-Investigator
N. Rielle Capler, MHA, has worked as researcher and policy advisor in the medical cannabis field for 13 years. She helped pioneer Canada’s first compassion club where she worked as the policy analyst and research coordinator from 1999 to 2007. Rielle is a co-founder of Canadians for Safe Access, a national organization promoting safe access to cannabis for medical use and research, and a co-founder and advisory board member of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries. Rielle is a co-investigator on several community-based research projects related to medical cannabis and is also a co-investigator on a observational study of ayahuasca-assisted therapy in the treatment of addiction. She is currently a doctoral student in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of British Columbia.