Psychedelic Retreats Overview
Psychedelic retreats are quickly becoming popular, especially in countries like Jamaica and Costa Rica. This is because there are no restrictions on psychedelic substances in these countries. Also, these retreats are popular among shamans in the United States, but this is in the shadows. The rise in the popularity of these retreats also overlaps with that of cannabis tourism, especially during the pandemic.
Psychedelic drugs rapidly and quietly gain popularity, especially among mental health professionals. Most of these professionals now see the drug as a novel therapeutic option for PTSD and depression.
Today, many real-life wellness retreats use different psychedelic drugs for therapy on their guests. In this article, I’ll take you through some of what you should know about these retreats.
What is a Psychedelic Retreat?
Psychedelic retreats make use of different medicinal plants to enhance healing. These plants mostly come in handy for healing on mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical levels. If you’ve been to the Amazon before, you’ll be familiar with medicinal plants like Wachuma or Ayahuasca.
One of the plants used in the Western world is psilocybin, which is found in magic truffles. Many people now gather to ask about the plant before starting their healing process with a spiritual guide. These retreats usually last between two nights to two weeks. In some cases, they may extend to a month or more.
What do These Retreats Involve?
The first thing to note about these retreats is that they don’t involve alcohol. With the right guidance, these ceremonies are ritualistic, which is why it’s advisable to take them seriously. The events of the retreats depend on the type of retreat and the shaman that leads it. It may comprise one ceremony per evening, and the ceremony involves administering plants for different reasons.
For example, during one Ayahuasca retreat, evenings were for ceremony, prayer, and song, while days were for resting and sleeping. During the night ceremony, participants would drink or eat the medicinal plant. They would then start to meditate until they start to feel the effects of the medicine.
When the medicine starts to work, inactive parts of the brain become open channels. This becomes the starting point of the journey, and it’s sometimes referred to as a trip or psychedelic experience. One thing to note is that the experience in retreats is different from taking medicine to get high. This is because, in these retreats, the ceremonies are personal. Therefore, everybody will experience different emotions, bodily reactions, and feelings.
A common thing with most retreats is that it involves groups sitting in circles and in a safe environment. Each group is guided by a shaman, and it’s the duty of the shaman to provide a safe environment.
Even though psychedelics have a lot of medicinal benefits, there are certain causes for caution. For example, they can cause long-term mental health issues or even psychosis. It’s mostly common in people with a predisposition to mental illness. This makes it tricky for healthcare providers to navigate as most people opt for psychedelics after dealing with depression or anxiety. If guests are not monitored properly during these retreats, the outcomes may yield adverse consequences.
Should Everyone Go?
No, these retreats are not for everyone to go to Dr. Collin Reiff is an assistant professor of psychiatry at New York University. He is also a co-author of different publications on psychedelic compounds. According to him, there’s currently a paradigm shift, and we need to take it slowly with psychedelics. While becoming a true believer, it’s advisable to be aware of the possible dangers.
Today, many people administer the medicine carelessly, which increases the potential of getting exposed to these dangers.
Some reported cases of the dangers involved
Here are a few instances of events due to improper use of the medicine:
- In 2021, a 29-year-old woman who went to Peru for an Ayahuasca retreat didn’t come back the same. Upon returning home, she developed a mental health disorder, and after a few months, she committed suicide.
- A Canadian tourist stabbed another participant to death in 2015. This was in a psychedelic retreat in the Amazon. The tourist was under the influence of Ayahausca when he got attacked by the other participant.
- In 2018, a tourist and a shaman got murdered in different retreats near the Amazon.
- There are also multiple reports of robberies and sexual assaults in different psychedelic retreats.
Some shamans lose control and start to molest women while under the influence of medicine. All these incidences are because of the immense emotional and physical vulnerability of psychedelic experiences.
Despite these causes for concern, the number of psychedelic retreats continue to increase in recent times. You’ll find these retreats in different parts of the world today. For example, in Jamaica where you can sell psilocybin mushrooms openly. Another example is in the Netherlands, where there’s a loophole that allows people to sell psychedelic truffles.
In Mexico, there’s an exception, and this is for the sacramental use of the medicine. For some cities in the United States, like California, Denver, and Santa Cruz, psilocybin has been decriminalized.
How Participants Describe the Retreats
Participants of these retreats usually refer to them as places where they get life-changing transformations. This is due to how they incorporate the drugs into different programs. The programs involve different phases, which are the preparation phase, and the psychedelic experience phase. There’s also an integration process, which may last weeks to months. Also, reports from some participants of these retreats suggest moments of pain, searing clarity, and terror.
If you are thinking of participating in a retreat, you need to understand that it’s not an avenue to get high. It’s also not a way to run away from suffering. You need to be sure that the retreat is right for you before you participate.
It’s worth noting that healing is a gradual process, and it won’t take place overnight. Therefore, you should only attend this retreat with a reputable retreat leader or shaman. This is the best way to avoid any of the unfortunate cases above.
Also, some of the unfortunate cases are due to the abuse of these medicines. It’s best to take them in the right doses and duration. I have provided a guide on the right way to take psilocybin truffles, and you can find it on our blog. You’ll also find other useful topics like microdosing on our blog, and you should read them before you go for any retreat.