Effects of the Psychoactive Sacramental Drink Ayahuasca in the Mental Health of Religious Members
José Arturo Costa Escobar (Presenter); Ph.D. on Cognitive Psychology, Grupo de Estudos sobre Álcool e outras Drogas, Federal University of Pernambuco; Lysia Rachel Moreira Basílio Rodrigues, Ph.D. on Cognitive Psychology, Departament of Psychology, Faculdade Vale do Ipojuca/DeVry; Wagner Lins Lira, M.Sc. on Anthropolgy, Graduate Program on Antropology, Federal University of Pernambuco; Alexsandro Medeiros do Nascimento, Ph.D. on Cognitive Psychology, Graduate Program on Cognitive Psychology, Federal University of Pernambuco; Antonio Roazzi, Ph.D. on Developmental Psychology, Graduate Program on Cognitive Psychology, Federal University of Pernambuco
Ayahuasca is a ritual drink with psychoactive effects used in some Brazilian religions. By its action on the serotonergic system, involved in many psychopathologies, studies pointed out several possibilities of its therapeutic use, particularly in mental illness such drug abuse and depression. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of continued use of ayahuasca on mental health of religious ayahuasqueros. We applied questionnaires to members of three different ayahuasca religions to verify the occurrence of symptoms related to stress, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and alcohol and tobacco uses. We also investigated the expression of the self consciousness, social abilities and mechanisms of visual perception. Results showed that ayahuasqueros presented uses of alcohol and tobacco below than observed in national epidemiological studies. Not significant pathological frame was observed in
the sample analyzed, nor deleterious effects on visual perception and social abilities. The self-rumination was positively correlated with psychopathological indices and self-reflection was the predominant mode of selfconsciousness functioning with higher values. In conclusion, the results suggest that the ritual use of ayahuasca does
not promote mental health problems, and self-rumination act as mediate factor of psychopathology. It was not possible demonstrate the positive effects observed derived from continuous use of ayahuasca. Sociocultural variables that should influence the mechanisms related to wellbeing and mental health has to been isolated in future ayahuasca studies. Self-consciousness mechanisms as reflection and rumination have to be investigated in ayahuasca users to define how them contributes to improve resilience that could explain positive mental health states.