DMT Misuse and Treatment Options

Hallucinogens are drugs that distort a person’s perceptions of reality. While under the influence of a hallucinogen, people report intense emotional feelings and seeing images, hearing sounds and feeling sensations that seem real but are not.2

One type of hallucinogen is DMT, a substance that is gaining popularity in the United States. This article will explain what DMT is, its effects, and how to get help if you’re struggling with hallucinogen misuse.

What Is DMT?

DMT, or dimethyltryptamine, is a chemical that occurs both naturally in plants and can also be synthesized in a lab. It has been used for spiritual purposes by indigenous people in Latin America for hundreds of years and gained popularity as a recreational hallucinogen in the U.S. in the 1960s.1-3

Synthetic derivatives of DMT can be purchased in tablet or powder form. DMT is typically smoked when it is consumed recreationally. Injection is also common, and it can also be insufflated nasally (snorted).4 When consumed orally it’s inactive unless it’s combined with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI).3

DMT also occurs naturally in several plants found in Latin America. Ayahuasca, which translates to “the vine of the souls,” is probably one of the best-known plants for DMT use. Indigenous tribes of the Amazon have traditionally brewed a mixture of the leaves and stems of the plant and drink it as a tea for ritual and medicinal purposes.4

DMT was designated a Schedule 1 controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s when the Controlled Substances Act was passed in 1971.3 Schedule 1 substances are defined by the DEA as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.5

DMT Effects on Mind and Body

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, tryptamines such as DMT affect the brain through the serotonin pathway.8 Serotonin is a neurochemical that has a number of functions in the body, but it’s also considered to have a role in feeling happy and in a person’s general sense of wellbeing. It affects both mood and cognition, and it can have an effect on memory. Tryptamine is also produced in the human body and plays a fundamental role in much of its central nervous system regulatory processes.9

DMT is quickly absorbed and subsequently distributed throughout the body and the brain. It is short-acting, and when consumed as a tea, the drug’s effects appear within 60 minutes, peak at 90 minutes and last for approximately 4 hours.1,2 When injected as a synthetic, maximum intensity is experienced after only 5 minutes post-injection with intensity decreasing over the next 30-45 minutes.3,4

Short-Term Effects: The desired psychological effects include visual hallucinations, auditory distortions and an altered sense of time and body image. These effects come on rapidly, which can be frightening to some and may lead to unintended injuries.

Physiological effects include:2,3

  • Muscular incoordination.
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Diarrhea, nausea and vomiting (if taken orally).
  • Chest pain or tightness.
  • Dilated pupils and rapid eye movements.
  • Dizziness or agitation.

Long-Term Effects: There’s some evidence to support that an individual could develop persistent psychosis following long-term consumption of DMT.10 It should be noted that in cases where individuals have developed psychosis following DMT use, the individuals had a personal or family history of psychosis or non-psychotic bipolar disorder or concomitant use of other drugs.10

There is also risk for developing hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). In both persistent psychosis and HPPD, the person may experience visual disturbances when not using the drug; these may include seeing halos around objects, seeing trails attached to moving things, or even having vision clouded by something like the static on television screens.8

Persistent psychosis can also result in:8

  • Mood changes or mood swings.
  • Clouded or disorganized thinking.
  • Anxiety or panic attacks.
  • Paranoia.

High doses or overdoses of DMT may lead to:2

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Fatigue and low energy.
  • Seizures.
  • Significant increases in blood pressure (+15-30 mmHg) and heart rate (10 bpm).

DMT Misuse and Addiction

Unlike other classical hallucinogens such as LSD, psilocybin or mescaline, DMT does not induce tolerance.1,10 In other words, the body doesn’t become dependent on DMT to function properly.

It is, however, still possible to develop a psychological addiction compelling an individual to continue to use DMT. Addiction is characterized by specific behaviors defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders:12

  • Giving up former favorite pastimes in favor of substance use.
  • Trouble in relationships based on use.
  • Difficulty keeping up with daily responsibilities.
  • Cravings for the substance.
  • Inability to stop substance use or control amounts of use.
  • Use of the substance even if it is causing physical or mental difficulties.

DMT Misuse Treatment Options

When selecting a treatment program, certain factors can determine the program most likely to help the individual recover from DMT addiction. Primary among these is to make sure that the program is based in research that demonstrates the ability of the treatments to have positive outcomes.

Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide demonstrates the treatments shown by scientific research to offer you or a loved one the best chance to achieve recovery.13 By seeking a program that meets the principles described in the guide, the you will have a better chance at gaining the knowledge, skills, and therapy needed to recover from DMT misuse and addiction.

A reliable, reputable treatment facility takes your specific needs into account when planning treatment, as emphasized by the Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide. This includes:13

  • Co-occurring disorders that may contribute to substance use and misuse, such as depression.
  • The duration, frequency, and dosage of drug use by the individual.
  • Personal relationships or other individual circumstances that contributed to the addiction.
  • The severity of the person’s addiction to DMT.
  • Other substances that the individual may also be using or misusing.

Other factors that contribute to selecting the right type of treatment program can include outside factors that may affect how treatment will work for you. While most treatment programs are designed around a person’s mental and physical health issues, that sometimes may not be all that affects the outcome.

Don’t let your addiction reach rock bottom. If you or someone you love is struggling with the devastating side effects of addiction and are unsure of where to turn, call us today at . At our drug rehab near Dallas  we are ready to help you get the treatment you need today.

When you speak with one of our admissions navigators, they can discuss our different levels of care and help answer your questions about which one is right for you. Our navigators can also help you learn more about insurance coverage for rehab, other ways to pay for treatment, and help you start the rehab admissions process.

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