Treating Alcohol-Related Disorders with Ayahuasca
Luís Fernando Tófoli, Ph.D.
Early scientific reports from the middle of last century indicated the potential of psychedelics for the treatment of alcohol-related disorders. Anecdotal, animal and open-label studies on ayahuasca, a traditional decoction made with two plant species, Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis, suggest that this native psychedelic may also share this potential. However, its effectiveness in controlled trials is still needed. In order to investigate the potential effects of this preparation on alcohol-related disorders, our research group – the Interdisciplinary Cooperation for Ayahuasca Research and Outreach (ICARO) – proposes two separate randomized controlled clinical trials: 1. a placebo-controlled trial with a group psychotherapy design; and 2. a study comparing regular treatment to regular treatment plus attendance to a ritual ayahuasca setting. These trials are funded by the Brazilian Drug Policy Secretariat (SENAD) and are included in a gamut of ayahuasca studies aimed to the therapeutic application of ayahuasca that comprises handling of the two plant species, pharmaceutical preparations, chemical analysis and clinical applications. The scope of this presentation is to describe these clinical trials in more detail and briefly mention the other studies that are currently under way within ICARO.
Luís Fernando Tófoli, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychiatry at the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil. He heads the Laboratory of Interdisciplinary Studies on Psychoactive Substances and is a member of the State Council on Drug Policies of São Paulo. He is responsible for the Interdisciplinary Cooperation for Ayahuasca Research and Outreach (ICARO) at UNICAMP and has recently published on the field of drug policies and the therapeutic use of psychedelics, especially ayahuasca.