The Philosophy Behind Ayahuasca and Addiction
Although traditional cultures had used ayahuasca as a healing agent for thousands of years and had been using it to treat cocaine and alcohol addictions long before the modern world took notice, it wasn’t until a French doctor, Dr. Jacques Mabit, spent years in Peru in the early 80s studying plant medicines as an apprentice shaman that the outside world really became aware of this hallucinogen’s potential.
Dr Mabit is the founder of the Takiwasi addiction treatment center in Peru and a trained ayahuasca healer who has participated in the treatment of literally thousands of patients with debilitating addictions to drugs and alcohol. The philosophy of his treatment is based on a study of the traditional uses of ayahuasca, his personal experiences with the drug as a consumer and as a shaman healer and his decades of experience working with addicts at his treatment center in the jungles of Peru.
Dr. Mabit believes that addiction arises as people search for meaning in a modern world that has been stripped of meaningful ritual and sacredness; where many no longer feel a sense of belonging or participation in the spiritual or transcendent realm of life.
Traditional people will often use psychoactive substances like ayahuasca as tools to gain access to the spiritual realm. What they find there during periods of altered consciousness makes sense through the lenses of a shared cultural framework and so what they take away from such experiences is recognized as real and important and lessons learned there can be integrated to good effect in ongoing life.
In modern society, most of us lack this cultural framework that would help us to understand and integrate transcendent experiences of altered consciousness. However, it is part of the human condition for all of us to seek out this transcendence and so we try, through various ways, to achieve states of altered consciousness that will bring us what we want. We search for happiness from without, rather than from within, and hoping to find it we take drugs and alcohol, gamble, have too much sex and eat very poorly among other things.
So, according to Dr. Mabit, it is not the seeking of altered consciousness that is the problem - since this is something all humans are want to do as they explore the spiritual realm - it is that we use the altered consciousness we create for ourselves so poorly that it offers us nothing lasting, and so the only thing we can do is strive to repeat and repeat and repeat again what we hope will bring us happiness. Unfortunately however, in doing so, we most often bring ourselves pain - such as drug or alcohol addiction.
But the answer cannot be total sobriety or abstinence from all psychoactive substances as this closes an avenue of access to ‘the otherworld’ or the spiritual plane. According to Dr. Mabit, then, the answer lies in the controlled and guided use of a substance like ayahuasca, which has little risk of abuse and which helps people find their own personally valid spiritual understanding as it also helps to open up and heal past wounds and roadblocks to growth and recovery.
How Does Ayahuasca Cure Addiction and Why Does it Work?
Ayahuasca opens the door to the vast unconscious experience, inducing rapidly transforming visions and repressed memories that are experienced, not solely as visual hallucinations, but as experiences that integrate all 5 senses and which are processed at the cortical level of the brain as well as in deeper parts of the ancient mind.
With the synthesization of your physical being, your perceptions and your thoughts comes a very novel way of experiencing your reality. When you approach a problem you’re dealing with from this new vantage point (and while experiencing greatly accelerated thinking processes) you can often discover for yourself a unique and personal solution to your challenges that matches your needs and wants exactly.
Working with a therapist after ayahuasca experiences helps you to further process and learn from the richness of material you’ve just ’discovered' from within your own unconscious mind. Working with these new insights, you and a therapeutic helper can continue the forward progress by taking any self discovery and working to apply it so that it serves you well in the modern world you’ll return to.
*People receiving addiction treatment with ayahuasca will typically take the drug on many occasions, over a period of months.
*According to Dr. Mabit, it is not only the drugs within the brew which are curative - the rituals, honed on 1000’s of years of traditional practice, also exert enormous influence over outcomes. Taking the drug in a different or falsified environment would not result in the same positive results.
Why Does It Work?
According to the clinical team at the Takiwasi Addiction Treatment Center in Peru, the benefits of ayahuasca as an addiction Healing Agent are as follows:
Ayahuasca opens the door to another world that is normally invisible to humans. Once this door opens, information from this other world becomes available through dream-like visions.
The drug provides a non verbal experience, where information in transferred through all senses. This can help those who are not strong in verbal communication or language come to a strong awareness of their own mind.
The problems of life become images and visionary scenes for viewing in the subconscious. Looking at problems from this new perspective often results in the finding of novel solutions or alternatives.
The drug affects our deep selves, and is equally relevant to anyone, no matter what cultural or religious framework they choose to interpret it through.
Ayahuasca visions can reduce the power and influence of some traumatic memories which lie buried and hidden in our unconscious but nevertheless affect our day-to-day lives.
Ayahuasca aids mental health. It increases intelligence and concentration, decreases anxiety, improves self esteem and helps us to resolve and relinquish past conflicts. The ayahuasca experience opens people up to much more productive Healing.