DMT Abuse and Addiction Treatment Options
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) describes DMT (N-dimethyltryptamine) as a potent hallucinogenic. DMT is also simply called, “N.” The use of DMT dates back centuries as certain South American religious groups use DMT in ceremonies. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) warns that all recreational users should know that DMT is incredibly powerful and dangerous.
Even in small amounts, DMT can alter a person’s perception. As a hallucinogenic drug, the side effects of DMT mimic that of psychosis, which is a serious medical condition.
Learn more about how DMT affects the body and why it’s so dangerous, and how to seek the help you need.
Call Zinnia Health at (855) 430-9439 for more information.
What Is DMT?
DMT is a type of hallucinogenic drug. Like other hallucinogenic substances, DMT can alter a person’s perception. It changes how they experience stimuli in their environment. Drugs like DMT are known for inducing effects similar to those of psychosis. Paranoia and hallucinations are the most common of DMT’s side effects.
One thing that sets DMT apart from other hallucinogenics on the market is that its use dates back centuries. Unlike many drugs that are manmade, DMT is naturally occurring. You can find DMT in a number of plants, but the best-known example is the ayahuasca plant.
DMT can also be produced in a lab. Synthetic DMT has been produced since as early as the 1930s, starting with Richard Manske, who was a chemist in Britain.
Despite being naturally occurring, DMT is a controlled substance in both its organic and synthetic form. Recreational use of DMT became common in the 1960s. By the 1970s, the DEA classified it as a Schedule I drug. Schedule I drugs are the most regulated of all drugs. DMT made the Schedule I list because of its dangerous side effects, high abuse risk, and a high potential for psychological dependence.
How is DMT Abused?
The drug can be used in the following ways:
- Smoking DMT
- Brewing DMT into tea
- Taking DMT orally
- Snorting DMT
How Does DMT Impact the Brain?
The hallucinogenic effects of DMT are powerful and potentially dangerous. Those who have taken DMT give anecdotal evidence of side effects. One of the most common side effects is an extremely heightened perception of all stimuli in the surrounding environment.
The altered perception of DMT begins with colors, which appear much more intensely than they usually do. Those taking DMT also experience exaggerated sensations upon physical touch. The things they hear may also seem louder. Or, they may listen for and recognize even the smallest noises that the brain typically dismisses.
Someone using DMT will observe changes in perception with all of their senses. Part of the hallucinogenic effect also includes seeing, feeling, hearing, and smelling things that are not there at all. A person using DMT may also experience synesthesias, which are confused senses. A person experiencing synesthesia may think that they are hearing a color, for example. The distorted perception that accompanies DMT use does not end with those strange experiences.
Researchers have found parallels between DMT and psychosis. The experiences of taking DMT mimic the side effects of individuals who have neurological problems. For instance, the experiences DMT produces are very similar to the experiences of people who have suffered a stroke or brain injury.
If someone were to describe the experiences DMT induces without having taken the drug, they would likely be diagnosed with some kind of psychotic disorder. This highly concerns the scientific community.
The long-term effects of DMT are not well understood, but short-term side effects can be life-threatening.
Side Effects of DMT
While taking DMT, a person may experience a range of side effects. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even unconsciousness. Asphyxiation is possible if someone becomes unconscious after taking DMT and begins vomiting. Seizures may also occur as a result of DMT usage, and these can be life-threatening.
Additionally, DMT can impact blood pressure, body temperature, and heart rate. If a person is experiencing anxiety or has in the past, these changes can lead to the onset of an anxiety attack. Similarly, DMT can lead to difficulty breathing.
It is unclear if breathing problems are a side effect of the anxiety DMT can induce or if they are related to the nervous system directly.
The physical changes of DMT, like how it increases the heart rate, can also lead to cardiac arrest (i.e., a heart attack). The risk of a heart attack is greater for those with heart-related conditions. Those taking medications for chronic pain or depression are also at a higher risk of experiencing a heart attack after taking DMT.
The Long-Term Risks of Taking DMT
The effects of hallucinogenic drugs also go beyond the initial episode or “trip” someone experiences after taking the drug. Beyond the point where DMT wears off, people are likely to experience negative side effects from taking it.
Some of these side effects can turn into lifelong conditions. One of the most common and notable effects of taking DMT is anxiety. The anxiety induced by DMT can occur during an episode (i.e., while the drug is active in the system) and even after the drug wears off.
Many users describe the severe anxiety they experienced as similar to a panic attack. The effects of DMT anxiety can include sweating, rapid heart rate, trouble breathing, overwhelming fear, paranoia, and irrational thoughts that consume the mind.
A person who takes DMT may begin to develop symptoms that are typically associated with mental health disorders.
- Changes in mood
- Prolonged psychosis
The risk of developing long-term conditions is greater in individuals who have an unpleasant experience with a hallucinogenic drug.
Some individuals who experiment with hallucinogens like DMT can develop a chronic condition. Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) results in flashbacks to times of prior drug use. For example, a person may not take DMT for a long period of time, but they will suddenly begin experiencing the hallucinogenic effects all over again.
How Long Does a DMT High Last?
The psychoactive effects of taking DMT are very similar to those that LSD produces, but the effects of DMT do not last nearly as long. While LSD can alter a person’s mental state for 12 hours or longer, the effects of DMT may last mere minutes to a few hours.
The duration of DMT effects depends on how much one consumes and how they used it. For individuals who use psychoactive drugs, DMT may be the go-to choice because of its short-lasting effects.
Since DMT does not affect the mind for as long as LSD, or similar drugs like mescaline or psilocybin, it may be preferable. However, DMT is still as dangerous as its longer-lasting hallucinogenic counterparts.
The typical DMT episode contains periods of altered perception and sensory hallucinations. It is possible to have dissociative experiences while taking DMT, but they are not as common.
Can You Overdose on DMT?
It is not yet known how much DMT is toxic or fatal for the average adult. Because DMT use in the United States is difficult to measure, there are no clear numbers on how much someone must take to reach the point of overdose. However, overdosing on DMT is possible.
There are deaths linked to DMT use, but they primarily involve cases where a person combined DMT with another drug. With that said, DMT does not have to be combined with an illicit drug to be fatal. DMT has led to fatalities amongst people who combined it with alcohol or pain medications, even in small amounts.
DMT can also lead to indirect injuries and fatalities. For instance, a person under the influence of DMT is more likely to get injured, be involved in an accident, or get hurt because of the poor judgment caused by their altered perception or mental state.
DMT Dependence and Withdrawal
With regular use, a person will develop a tolerance for DMT over time. Tolerance means that a person will have to take more of the drug to continue experiencing the same effects. For instance, a person who has developed tolerance will find that their episodes are shorter or less intense. In order to ramp up the effects, they’ll take more DMT. Over time, they grow tolerant to that amount as well, and the cycle repeats.
While tolerance is likely, physical dependence on DMT is not. DMT has few known withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are negative side effects people experience as a drug leaves their system.
While DMT does not have any known strong physical withdrawal symptoms, it can produce emotional dependence. The change in perception and mental state that occurs when a person comes off DMT can lead to a form of dependence on the drug.
DMT can also lead to certain informal withdrawal symptoms, such as:
Get Help for DMT Abuse Today
Like any type of substance use, stopping DMT for good and avoiding future use begins with the right support system. Often, people seek hallucinogens as a form of experimentation or self-exploration, but dependence can develop. DMT can also lead a person to try other drugs that have withdrawal symptoms and addictive qualities.
If you are trying to end your use of DMT or any other substance, seeking treatment is a wise decision. To learn more, call Zinnia Health at (855) 430-9439.