Ayahuasca, an Amazonian plant medicine, has long been utilized by indigenous communities for its powerful healing and visionary effects. More recently, however, there has been increasing research interest into potential therapeutic uses for various mental health conditions, including addiction. This report details ayahuasca as an innovative approach for substance abuse recovery alongside scientific evidence supporting its efficacy as well as implications for future treatment approaches for addiction treatment.

A Brief Overview of Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca is a psychoactive brew composed of Banisteriopsis caapi vine and Psychotria viridis plant leaves native to the Amazon rainforest, combined to produce N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). DMT becomes orally active due to monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) present in B. caapi vine; indigenous communities in South America have used Ayahuasca for centuries for spiritual, medicinal, and social purposes.

Ayahuasca and Addiction Recovery

Addiction recovery using Ayahuasca relies on its potential to bring profound psychological and emotional experiences that lead to lasting changes in behavior and mental health. Advocates for Ayahuasca-Assisted Therapy for Addiction state that this brew can assist individuals in confronting the root causes of substance abuse, promote personal insight and self-awareness as well as facilitate emotional healing and growth. Key effects associated with Ayahuasca for Addiction Recovery include:

Scientific Studies on Ayahuasca and Addiction

As Ayahuasca for addiction recovery remains an emerging field, several studies have provided preliminary evidence of its efficacy:

Note that these studies are preliminary; for definitive proof, further rigorous, controlled research must be conducted on ayahuasca-assisted therapy for addiction recovery.

Considerations and Challenges

Addiction recovery with Ayahuasca may present unique challenges and considerations, including:

Future Directions and Implications

As interest in the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca for addiction recovery continues to expand, several key developments and implications will likely shape its future:

Ayahuasca-assisted therapy represents a promising and novel approach to addiction recovery, with preliminary research suggesting potential benefits in terms of reduced substance use and enhanced mental health outcomes. While challenges and considerations still exist, advances in research, legal reform, interdisciplinary collaborations, and continued advances may help advance and integrate this therapy more broadly into addiction treatment landscape. As our understanding of ayahuasca’s healing potential deepens over time, its healing properties may offer hope and healing for individuals suffering from substance abuse and addiction.


Loizaga-Velder, A., & Verres, R. (2013). Therapeutic Effects of Ritual Ayahuasca Use in the Treatment of Substance Dependence-Qualitative Results. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 46(1), 63-72. doi:10.1080/02791072.2013.873157

Thomas, G., Lucas, P., Capler, N. R., Tupper, K. W., & Martin, G. (2013). Ayahuasca-assisted therapy for addiction: Results from a preliminary observational study in Canada. Current Drug Abuse Reviews, 6(1), 30-42. doi:10.2174/15733998113099990003

Nielson, E. M., & Guss, J. (2018). The influence of ayahuasca on mental health and well-being: A qualitative study of participant experiences at a Canadian ayahuasca treatment program. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 50(3), 245-255. doi:10.1080/02791072.2018.1442387

Palhano-Fontes, F., Barreto, D., Onias, H., Andrade, K. C., Novaes, M. M., Pessoa, J. A., … & Tófoli, L. F. (2019). Rapid antidepressant effects of the psychedelic ayahuasca in treatment-resistant depression: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Psychological Medicine, 49(4), 655-663. doi:10.1017/S0033291718001356

European Psychiatry , Volume 65 , Special Issue S1: Abstracts of the 30th European Congress of Psychiatry , June 2022 , pp. S871 – S872
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1192/j.eurpsy.2022.2260

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