Ayahuasca retreat seems unsafe

The stories in this pretty horrifying but that's-what-you-expect article on an ayahuasca retreat seem to mirror most of what I have heard from friends who have tried this. Several years ago a very close friend of mine approached me and asked for advice as to what they should do regarding their recent realization they had a problem with alcohol. I recommended they try Alcoholics Anonymous, as we were in a city where it is pretty clear AA helps a lot of people.

My friend decided to go travel to a 'clinic' and have an experience similar to those reported in the Vice article. It did not cure their alcoholism, and a few years later, they destroyed everything they'd worked for. "Doctors" who are not doctors are not doctors.

Other friends have had bad but not life-destroying experiences. Some have come back having met their spirit celebrity or whatever worked for them. When I hit the psychedelics these days it's mushrooms and my GenX soul can be found binge-watching TV.

I don't blame the ayahuasca, but before I go looking for answers for anything on a lark with a headful of drugs I make sure I'm really in a place to do such a thing, mentally, physically, and environmentally. Surrounded by strangers in Costa Rica at a camp run by frauds is not a comfortable place for that kind of exploration for me.

There is no room for amateurs in the drug culture.


Stacy Kozlowski, a ceremony facilitator who left in 2019, said she witnessed a guest bite his tongue during a ceremony and didn't know how to properly help. She also said she saw guests try to climb the barbed-wire fence. Amy Wharton and Jennifer Peters, who both worked there in 2017 (Powell says Wharton was a volunteer; she says she was a paid employee), claim they felt overwhelmed by the number of guests in ceremonies and were unable to keep track of people. Samantha Slewinski, another facilitator who went by Samantha Claire, said she witnessed people having emotional breakdowns. (Powell said he was aware of the "tongue biting incident," but had no record of guests trying to climb the fence. He said he wasn't aware of employees feeling overwhelmed and that these incidents are alleged to have happened "years ago.")

One guest, Jenna Williams, said Jeff McNairy, Rythmia's chief medical officer and Powell's life coach, whose job at Rythmia is to oversee operations and maintain protocols and policies, diagnosed her with psychosis after she started having fears of dying and screamed in front of other guests by the pool. (McNairy, who goes by "Dr. Jeff" and has a Psy.D., is not a licensed psychologist and does not practice psychology in Costa Rica. In an email, he said, "I don't diagnose people.") Williams, who said her memory went in and out but that she clearly remembers this incident, said she was locked in the medical area against her will for a week and that two male employees forced a syringe in her mouth. Her mother flew down to retrieve her. "I went to this place that I thought I could trust," she said, "and then I was just being abused and tossed out."