Ayahuasca retreat seems unsafe

Originally published at: Ayahuasca retreat seems unsafe | Boing Boing


If you can’t do something at home, it sounds sus.


Hallucinogens certainly have hazards, but are arguably safer than a lot of other drugs out there. At least if you avoid the iffier street drugs and stick to the naturally occurring ones, and some well established chemicals like LSD. William S. Burroughs experimented with ayahuasca a long time back and he and others had positive experiences with it


Tripping for fun or personal enlightenment is one thing… but the fact is that trips can go very wrong, even in a best case scenario, means that for this kind of situation (theraputic one), it should probably not be random dude who claims to have enlightenment.

If it’s being touted as a kind of therapy (especially for serious things like addiction or depression), then it most likely should be in a situation that is guided by someone who has serious training on how to help people confront whatever it is they are trying to confront. Not by some quack claiming to have specific kinds of training that they do not have.


Oh No Ross And Carrie did a multipart series on this which should be required listening for anyone even considering doing this.

TL;DL is that Rythmia is a shit show of unlicensed doctors and unqualified people liberally handing out a very dangerous substance in poorly controlled conditions. They specifically located it in a place with no laws around this sort of thing so they could operate with impunity. It’s a nightmare. They claim to have doctors on site and ambulances standing by in case things go wrong, etc, etc, but it’s all lies. Stay away.


He’s not the best example to use on the positive outcomes of substance use in Latin American countries. Just ask Joan Vollmer.


But he felt better, so who cares if he shot a woman. /s



There’s a podcast called Oh No Ross & Carrie where they said a similar retreat and Ross’ experience was absolutely miserable and his situation was badly handled by the people overseeing the “ceremony”. I would be keen to experience it but only if there was someone equipped to properly handle everything and knew what they were doing.


Posted my reply before i read all of the comments, nice to see someone else recommended this :blush:


That’s a fair point.


Is the implication that all Ayahuasca retreats are unsafe? or just this particular one? I don’t have any experience with these and probably never will. Just on the one hand I know people who’ve had positive encounters but the idea of sitting around with a bunch of new agey folks trying to guide the experience or being with random strangers who are new agey and intent upon sharing their spiritual revelations while on psychedelic drugs sounds like my personal hell. I always preferred being with a small group of friends in a dark apartment watching movies, or small group of friends in nature or a huge group of strangers who may or may not be in a similar state in a dark ware house with ear splitting music that kept conversation interactions to a minimum.


I imagine that you can find many retreats run by self-declared, well-intentioned individuals in what they determine to be ethical manners. I do not know that any actually are. What would the appropriate credential and licensing look like? Depending on what you are looking for, who knows – the people I know who have done this looking for a new outlook on life find bullshit personal discoveries that don’t last, the people I know who have done it for real clinical mental health reasons got worse than nothing, and folks who wanted to trip balls with other moderately affluent people experiencing the same mid-life bullshit had a blast?

When someone tells me their journey or whatever started with tripping balls I check out.



From the comments:


hrm… maybe someone out there should create a review book. Zaggat’s guide to Ayahuasca ceremonies or something.


I daresay there’s nothing that can’t be ruined by institutionalizing it and charging fees.


There’s also something a little…colonizey…about this whole thing. Taking another group’s spiritual sacrament and applying new-age mysticism and tourism to mass produce enlightenment is icky. I’m all for ongoing research and experimentation into hallucinogens as medicine. But some American doctor who couldn’t be bothered to even get licensure to practice in his non-medical health field before dosing people in Costa Rica for his own fun and profit is all kinds of wrong.


Kenan Thompson Reaction GIF by Saturday Night Live


My knowledge of this is entirely based on reading Terrence Mckenna (and also Oh No Ross and Carrie), so proceed with caution.

Basically Rhythmia presents as “a safe clinical place to have a guided ayahuasca experience”. but what you get is a fairly brutal Amazon jungle style spiritual journey with NO FUCKING GUARDRAILS, a process which seems intended to mint new shamans rather than ease first worlders into the zone. And I suspect a “real” shamanic journey leaves a few casualties in its wake.

So is the deal that they are operating in bad faith? Or is their license to offer ayahuasca contingent on conforming to traditional methods? I don’t know.


A good friend of mine, who was studying with a “shaman”, went down a Ayahuasca rabbit hole and wound up getting committed to a psychiatric institution. He’s out now, so I hear, but has lost just about everything. When I last spoke to him (which was prior to his “stay”) he was intensely focused on preparing for a meeting with the Dalai Lama and Donald Trump(!). Which was too bad, since he had promised me a job in his new venture…