In the United States, it feels as though we are talking more about drugs, alcohol, and addiction than we ever have before, and in many respects, this is true. But even though much of the conversation is being spent on the opioid crisis, drug trafficking, and illicit substances, it certainly does not reflect a newfound interest in this topic, as people throughout the world (including America) have been talking about and abusing mind-altering substances for centuries.
Prior to the development of synthetic medications (such as those sold through major pharmaceutical companies) people used whatever they had around them for medicine, salves, and even to get high. Several cultures utilized parts of plants indigenous to their land for these reasons. In fact, modern-day drugs like morphine, heroin, OxyContin, hydrocodone, etc. are either derived straight from the opium poppy plant or designed to mimic the plant’s effects.
Today, people throughout the world abuse naturally-occurring substances just as people used to do centuries ago. Unfortunately, however, several people are still under the impression that because the substances that they abuse are from nature, they are not nearly as dangerous as manmade drugs, if dangerous at all. This impression is false, as naturally-occurring substances of all kinds can not only be dangerous, but addictive and deadly as well.
Ayahuasca, a naturally-occurring drug, is one of these drugs. People have been utilizing it for decades upon decades, however, it is relatively unheard of in the United States. Unfortunately, that does not mean that people are not abusing Ayahuasca, which is a drug that can produce less-than-satisfactory effects including death.
WHAT IS AYAHUASCA?
Ayahuasca is a plant that grows in the Amazon rainforest in South America. When brewed into tea, ayahuasca creates powerful psychedelic effects. Some reports on the internet suggest the drug can help cure mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. However, unlike other natural psychedelics like magic mushrooms, cannabis, and peyote, little is known about the long-term effects of using the ayahuasca or if the psychedelic experience could be more harmful than thought.
Indigenous Amazonian tribes and other cultures have used ayahuasca for centuries, but the origins of the drug remain unclear. We do not know if the drug causes physical addiction or withdrawal, but many seek the drug for “spiritual” effects. Like other hallucinogens, ayahuasca can also cause significant emotional distress, and deaths due to ayahuasca intoxication have been reported.
Although ayahuasca has been in the news in recent years, it is not a new drug. Known by Christian missionaries as “the work of the devil,” ayahuasca is a Schedule I controlled substance internationally. It was synthesized for the first time in America by a Harvard scientist in the mid-twentieth century, and ayahuasca is sometimes combined with other plants for a stronger effect.
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Ayahuasca tea has been used for centuries for religious purposes, as well as for healing. And while ayahuasca is known for the hallucinations it produces, it is becoming considered as a possible treatment for common mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) here in the United States and throughout other parts of the world.
The tea itself contains leaves from a vine called baisteriopsis caapi. In many instances, these leaves are also combined with leaves from other plants, including the Psychotria Viridis, which contains DMT. If this plant is not included into the tea, it does not produce the hallucinogenic effects. Also included in ayahuasca tea is an MAOI (an antidepressant), ayahuma bark, uchu sanago, capirona bark, wyra Caspi bark.
While some people abuse ayahuasca by going straight to the drinking of the tea, others spend a great deal of time connecting themselves to the plant and its spirit prior to drinking it. When the time comes to drink the tea, it occurs during an ayahuasca ceremony. The entire process, plus the ceremony itself, is very spiritual and valued highly in certain cultures.
AYAHUASCA AND SPIRITUALITY
Ayahuasca is commonly used as a Christian sacrament. Those who work with ayahuasca in non-traditional ways usually align their work with the philosophies of shamanism, practiced among indigenous tribes in South America. Shamans and other experienced ayahuasca users advise against eating or drinking ayahuasca if you’re not in the presence of one or many trained shamans. In some areas, there are reportedly brujos (Spanish for “sorcerer”) who pretend to be real shamans and convince tourists to drink ayahuasca while they stay in their presence. Brujos believe every person has a limited stockpile of energy or power, and they want to steal it from tourists while they’re under the influence of the drug.
Ayahuasca appeal comes from the “spiritual revelations” felt by the user. Indigenous Amazon tribe members claim the drug helps them communicate with spirits and achieve a profound awakening. Anecdotal evidence suggests people who seek the drug want to achieve a spiritual rebirth and to discover their true purpose in life. Additionally, there are some dietary taboos that are associated with ayahuasca. In the rainforest, these taboos lean toward the purification of one’s self by abstaining from seasoned and spicy foods, excess fat, salt, caffeine, acidic foods, and sex.
Achieving a profound spiritual awakening may not be as simple as drinking a powerful plant brew. Ayahuasca often causes violent physical, psychological and emotional reactions in those who take it. For example, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, hot and cold flashes and a “bad trip” experience are all common. Sadly, so is death — ayahuasca may increase heart rate and blood pressure. It is also unknown how the drug reacts with other prescription medicines. We simply do not know what the long-term effects of using this drug are. Death from ayahuasca abuse may occur, so may addiction. Our experienced professionals are available 24/7 to talk to you about getting treatment for Ayahuasca abuse.
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WHAT DOES AN AYAHUASCA HIGH FEEL LIKE?
People turn to the use of ayahuasca for the same reasons that they turn to the use of other mind-altering substances. For some people, ayahuasca offers an opportunity for them to experience psychedelic effects, such as those experienced through the abuse of LSD. The curiosity of these effects is often one of the biggest reasons why people start abusing ayahuasca. Others use it simply as an escape from whatever it is that is bothering them, whether it be symptoms associated with an untreated mental illness or a traumatic experience that one cannot shake. Regardless of what the reason for abuse might be, when ayahuasca is consumed, it produces a high that is comparable to that of other hallucinogenic drugs like ecstasy and LSD.
When someone drinks ayahuasca tea, within a short period of time they will start having both visual and auditory hallucinations and a strong sense of euphoria. Being high on ayahuasca can cause users to have an altered state of time and space, as well as have out-of-body experiences. For many people, being high on ayahuasca takes them away from the reality of their everyday lives and brings them to a place where he or she is detached from everything. For those who are struggling with the effects of trauma, conflict, loss, confusion, and deep emotional pain, these are highly desirable effects.
People who are under the influence of ayahuasca report their high being very spiritual. Instead of hearing and seeing things that are not there, those who are high on ayahuasca report experiencing exaggerated sounds and sights that are truly there.
AYAHUASCA AND THE BRAIN
The way ayahuasca works in the brain is very similar to how other hallucinogens work, primarily because it contains DMT.
DMT, which is short for dimethyltryptamine, is naturally-occurring and can be found in plants in South America, Mexico, and areas of Asia. It is a white crystalline powder that is extracted from the plant and then combined with other substances, such as ayahuasca. On its own, DMT does not produce any real effects, as it has to be combined with other substances in order to be activated. DMT is known to have a similar structure to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is naturally-occurring in the human body and helps to control mood. When DMT is combined with ayahuasca, it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, triggering the onset of psychedelic effects.
While there is still much to learn about how ayahuasca works and what short and long-term impacts it has on the brain, some studies have provided some information regarding what the brain endures when someone abuses ayahuasca. For example, brain scans of those on ayahuasca show activity in both the limbic system (responsible for emotion and memory) and the visual cortex. This explains why people under the influence of ayahuasca have strong hallucinations and experience euphoria.
AYAHUASCA DRUG SIDE EFFECTS
The abuse of any type of mind-altering substance is going to create several different effects. For those who abuse heroin, they experience respiratory distress and organ damage, while those who abuse cocaine can suffer cardiovascular complications like heart attacks and strokes. The same goes for those who abuse ayahuasca, as there are several different effects that they can experience.
The most prominent effect that is typically produced when ayahuasca is used or abused is excessive vomiting and diarrhea. In fact, several people who participate in ayahuasca ceremonies spend the majority of their ceremony vomiting. While some people believe that the vomiting and diarrhea that they experience is all part of the spiritual cleansing of their bodies, others view it as being extremely painful and depleting.
Outside of the gastrointestinal effects that usually occur when abusing ayahuasca are several other physical effects that can be very dangerous. Some of these effects include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Increased heart rate
- Chest pain
- Dilated pupils
- High blood pressure
When ayahuasca is consumed in large doses, it can produce seizures. Seizures, in general, can be deadly based on the severity of them. However, some of the greatest dangers associated with seizures comes from the possibility of physical injury during the actual seizure. People can experience significant falls that can not only lead to sprains, broken bones, and other injuries, but falls that are severe can lead to paralysis, coma, and even death.
A vast majority of side effects produced by ayahuasca are psychological, not physical. This is to be expected, especially considering that the drug is a hallucinogenic. People report experiencing both visual and auditory hallucinations while under the influence of ayahuasca. Additionally, other psychological effects can occur, including the following:
- Reexperiencing of one or more traumatic events
Some of the biggest concerns for those who abuse ayahuasca is what actions they might take while under the influence. Effects such as fear and anxiety can cause people to react unrealistically, putting themselves and possibly even others at risk. This is why people who abuse hallucinogens often employ one person in their group to stay sober in an effort to mitigate overly emotional reactions.
THE LEGALITY OF AYAHUASCA
DMT is a Schedule I drug by the Convention on Psychotropic Substances. However, the text on the Convention on Psychotropic Substances notes that plants containing the drug are not subject to international law.
The Secretary of the International Narcotics Control Board sent a fax to the Netherlands Ministry of Public Health in 2001, and this document was intercepted by news outlets. It states that “Consequently, preparations made of these plants, including ayahuasca, are not under international control and, therefore, not subject to any of the articles of the 1971 Convention.”
Although the INCB’s 2001 affirmation seemed clear that ayahuasca is not subject to drug control by international convention, the board recommended that governments criminalize ayahuasca in its 2010 annual report.
This recommendation has been criticized as an attempt by the board to overstep its mandate and also establishing a reason for governments to violate human rights and religious freedom of ceremonial ayahuasca users.
The legal status in the United States of the plants is still questionable. Ayahuasca plants and preparations are technically legal since they contain no scheduled chemicals. However, brews made containing plants are illegal since DMT is a Schedule I drug.
Some people are challenging this, using the same arguments as those used by certain religious sects, such as the Native American Church. A court case which led to the allowance of the import and use of the tea for religious purposes in the United States was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005. The decision was released in 2006 and allows the use of the tea in religious ceremonies pursuant to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
In a similar case an Oregon, a church sued the state for their right to import and consume ayahuasca tea. In 2009, the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the church, again acknowledging protection from prosecution under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
AM I ADDICTED TO AYAHUASCA?
Ayahuasca has not been proven to be a drug that produces dependence in users. This means that no matter how they abuse this substance, their bodies will not become reliant on it. However, people can easily become addicted to ayahuasca, which means that they have a continual psychological need and craving to abuse this drug. Some of the most common signs of ayahuasca addiction include the following:
- Continuing to abuse ayahuasca despite wanting to stop
- Hiding ayahuasca use from others out of fear of being confronted about use
- Suffering from several consequences to one’s personal and professional life due to being under the influence of ayahuasca
- Neglecting responsibilities at home, work, or school because of one’s primary focus on abusing ayahuasca
- Abusing other addictive substances along with ayahuasca to increase its effect and/or to help control unpleasant side effects
When someone is displaying behaviors such as these, they should be taken very seriously, as the continuation of ayahuasca addiction can lead to severe health problems and even death.
TREATMENT FOR AYAHUASCA ABUSE
Taking ayahuasca is extremely dangerous and may result in death. If you are looking for something to help self-medicate a mental illness, or if you are looking to try a new recreational drug, it is highly recommended to stay staying away from ayahuasca. Rather than abusing this natural substance, reaching out for help can be the better decision to make. At our ayahuasca treatment program, we can help you:
- Get through withdrawal safely and more comfortably
- Heal the damage caused by addiction
- Figure out your purpose in life
- Make a fresh start
- Treat symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other disorders so that you do not need to look for other substances to self-medicate with
At our facility, the ayahuasca treatment that we provide not only helps you with the former, but it can also help you to build relapse prevention skills, establish healthy life skills, and get you connected to 12-Step programming and the support that comes from it. Also, we know that every single substance user, despite what they are abusing, has his or her own specific needs that vary from that of someone else’s. That is why we offer several different levels of ayahuasca treatment, ranging from inpatient treatment to outpatient treatment.
Inpatient treatment is the most involved addiction treatment program available for those who are abusing all sorts of substances, including ayahuasca. Those who are in need of ayahuasca treatment can benefit from inpatient treatment if they are unable to stop their use despite several attempts at trying, who are abusing other substances in conjunction with ayahuasca, or who are experiencing a mental health disorder at the same time as their ayahuasca addiction (known as a co-occurring disorder). Clients who enroll in inpatient treatment for their ayahuasca treatment will live at the facility and spend 30, 60, or 90 days participating in a number of different services, most of which are provided by mental health professionals such as psychiatrists, therapists, and counselors.
Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
At our intensive outpatient program, those who are in need of ayahuasca treatment can continue to live at home but will spend the majority of their days at the facility. When they are here, they will engage in therapies designed to help them identify and address the underlying causes of their ayahuasca addiction so that they can move forward with a clean slate. Their ayahuasca treatment will also include participation in 12-Step meetings, both on-site and off-site, which can help them utilize the higher power of their understanding to aid in their recovery, as well as guide them towards building a strong support network amongst others in recovery. Clients who are receiving ayahuasca treatment through our IOP will spend a number of hours each day at the facility.
When people who are in need of ayahuasca treatment enter into our outpatient treatment, they will be able to continue to maintain their lives outside of treatment as well as get the help they need. This is because they will only spend a few hours every few days at the facility working on their recovery. This means that they can continue to work, go to school, care for their children, etc. Since ayahuasca does not cause dependence, outpatient treatment is often one of the most recommended types of ayahuasca treatment because it does not offer detox services, which a client would need if he or she was dependent on a substance.
When you call and reach out for ayahuasca treatment, we will be on the other end of the line ready, willing, and able to get you started on the road to recovery.
GET PROFESSIONAL AYAHUASCA TREATMENT AT 12 KEYS TODAY
There are no easy solutions to drug addiction, but with comprehensive treatment for ayahuasca and commitment to ongoing counseling, you can find your path to freedom. If you want to stop using drugs or alcohol, don’t turn to a dangerous illegal drug such as ayahuasca.
Call 12 Keys Rehab now for more information on drug treatment today. 844-551-7016