Traumatised UK cops flying to Peru to take mind-bending psychedelic ayahuasca

Police officers are trekking it all the way to Peru to try a psychedelic local brew.

Essex Police dog handler Paul Haylock journeyed out to the Peruvian jungle with six pals, including another former officer, to drink ayahuasca last November, reports the Telegraph.

The unconventional therapy is being organised for UK police officers and other first responders suffering from work-related trauma.

READ MORE: Amazon explorer ‘died and saw God’ after tribe gave him ‘life-changing’ drug

Paul, 41, has been a police officer for 22 years and was called out to the Westminster terror attack in 2017. He said he was hoping to find relief from his anxiety and suicidal thoughts. He said experiencing the aftermath of the terror attack was a ‘tipping point’.

The drink is made by combining a vine and two plants
The drink is made from the combination of the “Banisteriopsis caapi” vine with “Psychotria viridis” and “Diplopterys cabrerana” (stock)

The ayahuasca brew is made by combining the leaves of a plant that grows in the Amazon and a local vine. Paul says the group drank it on three occasions over three days while shamans chanted and played music. His police colleague Steve said: “‘I came out feeling that I’d been held all night, that I’d been loved all night – like I’d been given a big dose of love.”

He said while the second session was “one of the worst experiences of his life” the final experience was “a pleasure from start to finish – I sat there in awe, not wanting it to end’ and said: “It was like watching my brain being rewired – as if the weight of the world was just lifted off my shoulders.”

Last November two police officers said they jetted off to Peru to take Ayahuasca in three ceremonies over three days (Stock)
Two police officers said they took ayahuasca three times over consecutive days in Peru last November (stock)

Six months later Paul says he believes he can cope better with stress since the trip, which was organised by non-profit Heroic Hearts Project UK.

The charity which sends troubled military veterans and emergency services workers on ‘progressive therapy retreats’.

It was set up during the pandemic by ex-soldier Keith Abraham, 44, after making a similar journey to experience an ayahuasca ceremony. Keith served in Afghanistan with the 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment.

Attendees pay for their own flights but the £3,000 cost of the retreat itself is paid by Heroic Hearts. Its third Peruvian retreat took place last month, and Keith says there are currently 75 people on the waiting list for future retreats, of which 11 are paramedics, firefighters or police officers and the rest ex-soldiers.

It comes amid a growing mental health crises within police forces. The latest Pay and Morale survey by the Police Federation of England and Wales found widespread dissatisfaction in the country’s 150,000-strong network, with officers leaving in droves.

A record 9,200 left in the year ending March 2023. And a University of Cambridge study found in 2018 that 20% of police have some form of post-traumatic stress disorder, although most are unaware they have it.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), which represents chief constables and senior officers across the country, said: “Exposure to traumatic events is a difficult reality for many frontline workers.”

It added: “Early intervention support… is recognised by all forces as essential.”

To stay up to date with all the latest news, make sure you sign up to one of our newsletters here.