1992 – Takiwasi, a Rehabitation Center that Treats Drug Addictions, Is Created in Tarapoto, Peru
In 1992, Takiwasi, a rehabilitation center using ayahuasca and dieta to treat drug addiction, was founded in Tarapoto, Peru by Jacques Mabit. It was a result of research started in 1986 on the ancient practices of traditional Amazonian medicine, in a region that at the time was considered the first in the world for the production of coca leaf and the consumption of its toxic derivatives.
Takiwasi (“house of song” in Quechua) brings together traditional Amazonian healers and western psychotherapists and offers a residential program for substance addicts, in which patients stay for six months to a year. Most patients are Peruvian and from South America, but shorter retreats are offered to foreigners, whose payments help support the center and make it possible to treat poor patients at little to no cost.
Takiwasi operates as a therapeutic community legally recognized by the Ministry of Health of Peru and claims a success rate at treating addiction higher than most rehabilitation centers. An internal evaluation published in 2002 registered a positive change for 54 patients out of 100, and a recent study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, confirmed the short-term therapeutic effects of Takiwasi’s protocol, showing significant improvements in several areas like severity of addiction symptoms, psychiatric status, substance craving, emotional distress (anxiety and depressive symptoms), and quality of life.
Takiwasi is the oldest and one of the most renowned institutions in combining the use of psychotherapy and ayahuasca for the treatment of addiction and mental health. In the treatment protocol, the altered state of consciousness induced during ritual ayahuasca ceremonies plays a central role to lead addicts to deepen self-awareness, enabling them to address not just their addiction, but the issues underlying it.
The institution has contributed greatly to the internationalization of ayahuasca and has been taken as a reference for its advances in scientific research and clinical practice. One outstanding achievement has been the “Declaration of National Cultural Heritage to the Traditional Uses of Ayahuasca” approved in 2008 by the Peruvian Institute of Culture thanks to the efforts of Dr. Rosa Giove, co-founder of Takiwasi and in charge of the biomedical monitoring of the patients.
Currently, Takiwasi is the main implementation site of the international research project Ayahuasca Treatment Outcome Project – ATOP, led by Dr. Brian Rush, of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) of Toronto, Canada, which aims to scientifically validate the effectiveness of ayahuasca and traditional Amazonian medicine in the treatment of addiction.
Takiwasi also promotes the sustainable development of the Amazonian indigenous communities and the conservation of the rainforest through implementing of a BioTrade model involving medicinal plants that has been recognized by the UN. Jacques Mabit works tirelessly to create a true dialogue between Western and Indigenous worlds, especially by co-founding the Inter-American Council on Indigenous Spirituality (CISEI) and organizing several international events.
Giove, R. (2002). La liana de los muertos al rescate de la vida, medicina tradicional amazónica en el tratamiento de las toxicomanías. Tarapoto, Perú: Takiwasi.
Berlowitz, I., Walt, H., Ghasarian, C., Mendive, F., and Martin-Soelch, C. (2019). Short-Term Treatment Effects of a Substance Use Disorder Therapy Involving Traditional Amazonian Medicine. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. May 1: 1-12. DOI: 10.1080/02791072.2019.1607956
Mabit, J. (2007). Ayahuasca in the treatment of addictions. In T. Robert, & M. Winkelman, Psychedelic Medicine (V. 2): New Evidence for Hallucinogenic Substances as Treatments (pp. 87-103). USA: Praeger Ed.
UNCTAD (2016). 20 years of BioTrade: Connecting people, the planet and markets. Uncad.org website
Mabit, Michel (1996). Takiwasi: Ayahuasca and Shamanism in Addiction Therapy. Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) Volume 6 Number 3, Summer 1996.