The Takiwasi way of treating addiction


My name is Jacques Mabit, I am French For the past 36 years I have lived in Peru and I am the founder of Takiwasi Center It is a center that primarily deals with treating patients who suffer from addiction to drugs: cocaine, cocaine paste, heroin, tobacco, alcohol, etc. we offer and try to elaborate a model that articulates the traditional Amazonian medicine, which has a lot to do with medicinal plants, with contemporary psychology and psychotherapy. The treatment of addiction and mental health problems in general has to do with an approach to the patient’s history, not only his personal biography but also his legacy, transgenerational too, and what he inherits from his ancestors. The plants in that sense serve for deep introspection work. People can access very deep contents of the unconscious, in a dreamlike state, but being conscious, since they are not sleeping. This means that the person is in control and can manage his relationship with his unconscious. That passes through a protocol, first to see if people can access those treatments that are strong and very intense. There must be a selection, as in any medicine there are counter indications and there are indications. We do a conventional medical examination process, a psychological examination and then the treatment itself has three parts, to say it in a rather quick way: one is cleansing with purgative plants that are used to induce vomiting or diarrhea or sweating, which is a way to expel toxins from drugs, medications or contamination. These processes are always ritualized. What does that mean? A ritual is a technology that brings into play the energetic body and causes the plant to not only work in the physical, but also psychologically and spiritually. I mean that when a person, for example, vomits, he can vomit the drug, but at the same time he will vomit his anger, rage, pride, sadness. And on a spiritual level everything that has to do with the meaning of life, the existential dimension and the taking into consideration, which absolutely does not exist in Western medicine, that the non-visible world, the spiritual world, is not only the personal unconscious or the collective one, it is also the outside world where those that we call spirits or entities exist, as reported in all traditions. Even in the Western tradition, before rationalism, people considered the existence of angels and demons. This language may seem utterly obsolete to Western thinking. It’s a clinical matter. That can be essentially observed, identified, diagnosed, foretold and acted upon. That dimension is the contribution, let’s say basically new, in relation to Western medicine, because it considers a dimension that is not taken into account, especially in the matter of mental health. Many mental health problems cannot be explained solely on the basis of psychological, relational, or traumatic problems. There is another dimension that is at play. Traditional medicine does take that into consideration, that is why you have to do a ritualized work, to reach those different levels. These are the purging, depurative, and preparation plants. Then we will use psychoactive plants such as ayahuasca and also tobacco extract, or other plants that will allow for that introspection, that visualization of the inner world in an almost dreamlike but awake way. This allows you to go to areas that are very difficult to access without the help of plants. For example, with conventional psychotherapy it is very difficult to do. Because these dimensions are inscribed in the somatic memory of the body. And then we use other types of plants that healers call “master plants”, because they teach. These are taken in certain particular conditions, of isolation, there are certain dietary rules, sexual rules, in short, a set of rules, and in those conditions these plants are going to induce structural transformations of the consciousness in people For example, if a person predominates fear, is not daring, and is afraid for everything, there is a plant that helps reduce fear. If a person is very aerial, ethereal, has much difficulty to put his feet in the ground, there is a plant for that. If it´s a person who does not know what to do with his life, who does not know how to choose between options, who is always in doubt, there is a plant that helps to cross this threshold and make decisions. So plants exist that have specific psychological functions, it is like having your team of psychologists specialized in certain subjects. So depending on the profile of the patient we will use plants to work the problem for this patient. That is a process that lasts 9 months in residence because the use of plants goes with very strict rules. If the rules are respected everything will go well, but if they are not respected it is dangerous, because it is a powerful medicine. It is powerful to cure if used well and powerful to damage if misused. The novelty is the use of plants that will cause all unconscious material to emerge: emotions, revelations, dreams, etc. All that is going to be worked in a second space that is the psychotherapeutic accompaniment. There is a team of psychologists who will hold workshops, techniques, individual and collective therapy, use of masks, of stories, drawings, holotropic breathing, a whole series of tools to be integrated. Because we as Westerners have largely lost the notion of what is symbolism, what it means to interpret, as in dreams, of the symbolic meaning that is there. So there is need to re-learn this language. All this is going to be worked. For example, it will be determined that a patient’s main problem is communication with others, does not know how to express himself, just to give an example. Then after that, that element that emerges from the integration process will be applied immediately in a third space, which is community living. The patients live in community with each other and will immediately apply what they have learned and that will generate problems, incidents or achievements. And when there are problems, blockades, again we will work with the plants that will give information that is then worked with psychotherapy. So there are three spaces: plants, psychotherapy, and coexistence. A kind of therapeutic tripod where there is a permanent feedback that gives quite powerful and fast results. Conventional medicine in addicts has lousy results. They do not even publish them often. Because addiction is a kind of possession, let’s put it that way. In a moment a person wants to stop consuming, but can´t. There is something that dominates him, something that subjugates and then he consumes again, knowing that it is bad. He cannot resist. What is that force that dominates the consciousness of the person and pushes him to do things he does not want? There we have to look at the spiritual dimension, it is not a psychological problem. Yes, you have to look at the psychological part, tracing the personal history but also you must look into their past, their background, their ancestors, to see what they did in this life. Because many people, for example, practice magic, Satanism, rituals, a lot of things, and do not know what they are doing. Spiritism is very fashionable. In these moments they become infested, they open the door that allows them to be disturbed by spiritual entities. And drugs, All modern drugs, such as cocaine, tobacco, heroin, come from sacred medicinal plants that indigenous peoples have used for centuries and millennia without having these problems. The problem is not the substance; it is how it is used. If the plant is abused and disrespected, it becomes addictive. It is a desecration, it is a misuse. Tobacco is the main medicine of the Amazon, but not smoked. It is taken in juice, in extract, there is a ritual, there is a preparation, it is a very complex, sophisticated medicine. The problem of addiction is a purely a Western problem. There is no addiction in indigenous cultures. It is something unknown. The alcoholism that exists in the aborigines of Australia or the Amerindians of Canada, etc. comes after their contact with Westerners, before that there wasn´t any. People used substances to modify consciousness, but in a regulated way and without generating any addiction. That tells us that the main problem of addiction is a problem of demystification of Western society. Of rationalism, positivism, absence of the spiritual dimension that we have lost. As long as we do not retake the initiatory dimension of life, that which has meaning, we cannot cure addictions. It is not just a physical problem. Detox is easy but then what? Deep underlying problems continue and come back. Work at a psychological level can also be done, it is more complex, but it is not enough. You have to reach the energetic or spiritual dimension. Only then can there be large-scale healing.

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