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Ontario police officers are using ayahuasca to treat PTSD


June 5, 2019
By Staff

Matt Chorny, a constable on leave from the Ontario Provincial Police, has spoken out about how a hallucinogenic tea has helped heal his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as commented on the larger problem of mental health and police culture.

“For many years, Chorny suffered from the trauma that came from his work, which frequently included responding to sexual assaults and other violent crimes,” writes Global News in an online article posted on May 24, 2019.

“The worst is when people die in your arms,” Chorny told Global News.

Chorny was eventually diagnosed with PTSD in 2017 and began therapy while on medical leave. He also started doing research and came across a video of U.S. army veterans talking about treating their PTSD with ayahuasca, a tea that contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and harmaline, which are both banned in Canada and the U.S.

He travelled to an ayahuasca retreat in Peru, where it’s legal and ceremonies involving it are easy to find, Global News reported. “He participated in three ceremonies, during which the tea is administered by a shaman. It’s an ancient tradition that dates back centuries to Indigenous Peoples in the Brazilian Amazon.”

In a YouTube video posted by the Peru retreat in March, Chorny opens up about his experience.

“I can say that it didn’t take everything and just fix it. It doesn’t just fix things. What it did was it removed the evil; it removed all the things that blinded me,” he says.

“It opens that window into repressed emotions and feelings and memories,” said Brian Rush, a psychologist who has reviewed treatment programs that use ayahuasca in Peru. “The therapeutic benefits seem to be there.” Rush noted people who do have a history of some mental health issue, such as psychosis, should avoid it.

“The OPP would not comment on the medical situations of specific officers due to privacy concerns,” the article reads. An OPP spokesperson told Global News in an email that the “mental health and wellness of our members is a priority for us. We have introduced and offer several resources that members can access for support and assistance.”

In response to a question about the OPP’s stance on members using ayahuasca to treat PTSD, the spokesperson wrote that it is “no different than people exploring alternative medical treatments/options in different countries that are not approved or available in Canada.”

The article goes on to hear about the experience of one of Chorny’s ayahuasca converts: his long-time friend Kevin, a police officer also on medical leave who has been with the OPP for nearly 20 years and who has spent 30 years in policing.

Find the original article here.