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Teen Drinks Ayahuasca and Now Facilitates Plant Medicine Ceremonies in Bali

A 15-year-old from Russia drank ayahuasca after his parents took him to a retreat in Colombia. Now, he leads ceremonies, hosts workshops, and offers courses in Indonesia.

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Alex Renko is a wealthy 15-year-old from Russia. He dropped out of school at age 12 and has been “traveling the world and making memories” since, according to his TikTok and IG. His parents recently introduced him to ayahuasca at a retreat in Colombia, according to the New York Post, and he’s now facilitating sananga (a potent eye drop made from a root in the Amazon) at plant medicine ceremonies in Bali, Indonesia.

Following his ayahuasca experiences, Alex launched a social media channel on YouTube where he shares his universal insights and interviews people about success, making money, enlightenment, and living your dream life. The Daily Mail reported that Alex now offers $3,000 worth of educational courses guiding people toward enlightenment. He also now offers workshops and courses on how to use sananga. On July 7, he will be facilitating sanagna at a hapé (a finely ground tobacco snuff) and kambo (a powerful frog secretion) ceremony at the Naya Veda Vastu retreat center in Bali. The New York Post says that Alex plans to work at ayahuasca retreats and within the plant medicine world in Bali.

Most of Alex’s posts explicitly discussing his experiences with ayahuasca have been removed from his social media. However, the remnants of those posts still remain. For example, there are videos of him in the jungle ecstatic dancing in a retreat setting; working with sananga which he alleges made his vision perfect; kambo ceremony footage; dozens of commenters posting about now-deleted videos discussing his ayahuasca use, etc. 

READ: Ayahuasca Gummies Are Now a Thing

Alex, who describes himself as “ridiculously wealthy,” says that he was encouraged to drink ayahuasca by his parents after his father quit his job, achieved sobriety, and lost 88 lbs after drinking the tea, according to the Daily Mail.

During his first retreat, Alex drank ayahuasca three times in three days and described the experience as “crazy,” noting that it allowed him to transcend the confines of his mind’s “box.”

“Everything vanished one by one until there was no more space, no more material,” he said. “I transcended into a final portal that opened up, and I was in the infinite cosmos, and it was like, wow, this is my home. My soul is home.”

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A few months later, he went on a second retreat in the Dominican Republic, accompanied by two of his childhood friends who also drank ayahuasca.

After that experience, he posted online, stating he had realized he was a “God” and that his energy could merge with a friend’s into a “cosmic disco ball.”

Critics were quick to comment, however, warning that he started drinking the brew at far too early of an age. His lifestyle has also attracted criticism online, with one commenter saying, “Easy to drop out when you know that family money gonna keep you fed, high and housed.” Another critic said, “My man only talks about himself and claims he’s had ‘ego death.'”

“This is going to be a three-part Hulu documentary in three years,” another commenter wrote.

While Alex’s use might seem alarming, let’s keep in mind that he is still a kid living under the rule of his parents —the people who introduced him to the plant medicine world. But, the issue isn’t him drinking the brew or facilitating sananga, per se. Many Indigenous adolescents do both within their traditional lifestyles in the Amazon forest. Alex isn’t Indigenous, however. And while the plight of being human does lend itself to needing (or desiring) healing — despite how wealthy one’s family might be — there is a concern here about harm. Harming himself and Indigenous cultures.

READ: The Ayahuasca Privilege

Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco, explains that — at least within the framework of Western medicine — using psychedelics during adolescence could lead to psychological issues. He informed the DailyMail that his research, recently submitted to a journal, indicates that adolescents may face higher risks from psychedelics. While he did not elaborate further, other studies suggest that individuals who consume ayahuasca are more likely to experience anxiety compared to those who do not. Dr. Larissa Carneiro, a religious studies expert at Duke University in North Carolina, emphasized to the DailyMail the need for further investigation into that topic.

When it comes to Indigenous harm, there’s a world of difference between spending your entire life in the rainforest, immersed in ancient medicine traditions, and just parachuting into the jungle for a weekend retreat before returning to a wealthy, indulgent, capitalistic lifestyle. The cultural appropriation — led by his parents — is among the most gregarious demonstrations of obtuse “psychedelic parenting.” It reflects negatively on other parents who are living that lifestyle respectfully.

Some experts also argue consuming Indigenous plant medicines outside of thier intended use could cause serious issues. Developing a “God complex” or thinking you’re a deity or god of some kind has been discussed before as a harm that can come from the misuse of ayahuasca and other strong, psychoactive medicines.

“There are risks in deviating from the sacred and traditional practices of Indigenous peoples who introduced us to these medicines,” writer Matthew Stoltz wrote for DoubleBlind Magazine Issue No. 11. “They carry the power to heal and to harm—even if these harms are self-inflicted.”

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DoubleBlind is a trusted resource for news, evidence-based education, and reporting on psychedelics. We work with leading medical professionals, scientific researchers, journalists, mycologists, indigenous stewards, and cultural pioneers. Read about our editorial policy and fact-checking process here.

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DoubleBlind Magazine does not encourage or condone any illegal activities, including but not limited to the use of illegal substances. We do not provide mental health, clinical, or medical services. We are not a substitute for medical, psychological, or psychiatric diagnosis, treatment, or advice. If you are in a crisis or if you or any other person may be in danger or experiencing a mental health emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency resources. If you are considering suicide, please call 988 to connect with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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