Overview of DMT Use and Abuse
- DMT is a hallucinogenic drug that produces intense experiences in users.
- The drug can be taken orally, smoked, injected, or snorted.
- Effects include depersonalization, auditory distortions, and altered sense of time and body image.
- DMT can also cause a range of side effects such as hypertension, dizziness, and agitation.
- Long-term use exposes the user to serious effects including flashbacks, coma, and death.
- The drug is not thought to be addictive, and overdose potential is low.
What Is DMT?
N, N-Dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, is a drug best known for its ability to produce powerful visual hallucinations. Many regard the high from DMT as a spiritual experience.
DMT is a naturally occurring tryptamine compound found in many different kinds of plants, and it can also be made in a lab. Tryptamine is also produced in the human body and plays a fundamental role in much of its central nervous system regulatory processes. In fact, findings have suggested that tryptamine plays a role in the moderation of sleep, memory, body temperature, behavior, and cognition.1,7
How It Affects the Brain
It is unclear how DMT affects the brain. It is believed to act as a serotonin receptor agonist, which means that it may increase the perceived activity of this neurotransmitter in the brain.2 Increased stimulus at the serotonin receptor is believed to have a polarizing effect on neurons, causing their firing rate to slow and leading to overall sensations of relaxation.
The pineal gland may secrete DMT as a person approaches death.
DMT leads to increased disinhibition and excitability across many systems within the body, including heart rate and cognition.3 Interestingly, there is some belief that the pineal gland excretes DMT as a person approaches death. This could account for the vivid imagery described by individuals who have had near-death experiences.4
- Businessman’s trip.
- Businessman’s special.
- 45-minute psychosis.
Treatment Options and How to Pay for Recovery
DMT addiction isn’t common. But people who develop a problem with DMT use can seek treatment at an inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation program. Many people who use DMT also abuse other drugs and can get treatment for other addictions while in treatment.
- Inpatient or residential rehab centers. These are live-in facilities where you work with a therapist on the causes of your addiction while attending group therapy and addiction education sessions. Many inpatient facilities can treat polydrug use as well as any mental or medical issues you may be experiencing.
- Outpatient recovery centers. These programs do not require you to live at the facility. Instead, you visit the center a few days a week for a few hours at a time for individual or group therapy.
- 12-step programs. These are programs where people with a substance abuse disorder meet to support each other on their road to recovery. You work with a sponsor to complete a series of recovery steps. Narcotics Anonymous focuses on people struggling with drug abuse such as DMT.
Choosing a Rehab Program
Before beginning a recovery program, research your DMT treatment options and learn more about the substance abuse treatment process.
This way, you can make a more informed decision about your treatment and know what to expect when you enter a program.
Cost and Paying for Treatment
The price of a DMT treatment program will depend on
- How much your insurance covers.
- How long the program is and how long you stay.
- The kind of program it is (inpatient, outpatient, etc.).
- The program’s features.
- Where it’s located (city, rural, beach, mountains).
Get more information about insurance and paying for treatment below:
- If you don’t have insurance: Look into other payment options or call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s toll-free helpline to find a recovery program without insurance.
How Is It Used?
DMT can be snorted, smoked, injected, vaporized, inhaled, or swallowed as pills or a liquid.7,8
Various forms of DMT have been in use around the world. For instance, DMT is used during some tribal rituals to achieve a spiritual relationship with a higher being.2 In South America, the plant anadenanthera peregrina, or yopo, is either ingested or smoked to achieve a psychedelic experience. The experience is believed to be the result of higher concentrations of DMT in the anadenanthera peregrina. 2, 3
DMT’s effects come on very quickly but usually wear off within 30 to 45 minutes.8 The drug has the potential to produce very intense visual hallucinations that can involve radically altered environments as well as body and spatial distortions.2 ,3, 10 Other effects include:8
- Auditory distortions.
- Altered sense of time.
The short-term physical effects of taking DMT include:8
- Increased heart rate.
- Enlarged pupils.
Frequent and/or long-term use of DMT can result in an increased risk for rare but serious effects such as:7
- Persistent psychosis—ongoing mental problems such as visual disturbances, trouble thinking clearly, paranoia, and mood swings.
- Flashbacks—re-experiencing effects of DMT, such as hallucinations, that can come on without warning. In some cases, these effects can interfere with a person’s ability to function, a condition known as hallucinogen persisting perceptual disorder.
Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
At this time, the risk for becoming addicted to DMT is believed to be relatively low. Unlike alcohol, cocaine, or heroin, DMT does not lead to compulsive drug-seeking behavior. However, some people can develop a psychological dependence on the drug.
If you or someone you know experiences impairment in his or her life due to DMT use and has 2 or more of the following symptoms over the course of a year, consider seeking help from a substance abuse rehabilitation center: 6
- Taking more DMT than intended or for a longer period of time.
- Inability to quit or cut down DMT use.
- Spending large amounts of time acquiring DMT, using it, and recovering from its effects.
- Intense craving for DMT.
- Inability to fulfill responsibilities associated with work, school or home due to DMT use.
- Using DMT despite social and interpersonal difficulties related to drug abuse.
- Abandoning recreational, social, and occupational responsibilities in favor of DMT use.
- Using DMT in physically dangerous situations such as driving or operating machinery.
- Continuing to use DMT despite a physical or psychological problem that is aggravated by DMT use.
- Developing a tolerance to DMT.
- Increased amounts of DMT are needed to get desired effect.
- Lesser effect when same amount of DMT is used.
It is difficult to overdose on DMT. Injecting the drug, however, holds the potential for administering too large a dose of the drug. The typical dose is 60mg, delivered by intramuscular injection. An individual would have to take 91 times the typical dose to be at an increased risk for overdose.4
Nonetheless, the safety of high doses of DMT remains in question. A large number of deaths that have been associated with DMT were found to be a result of preexisting conditions.5 According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, coma and respiratory arrest have been associated with DMT use.8
If you suspect that someone may be suffering an overdose, call 911 immediately or visit the local emergency room.
In 2016, 2.2 million people age 12 and older (0.8%) reported using DMT, AMT, or 5-MeO-DIPT (“Foxy”) at least once in their lives.9
This number was an increase from the 2.1 million people who reported lifetime use in 2015.9
Teen DMT Abuse
Adolescents are at a much greater risk for developing long-term physical or psychological difficulties as the result of DMT use, as their brains are continuing to develop.
According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 50,000 teens ages 12-17 (0.2%) had used DMT, AMT, or 5-MeO-DIPT at least once in their lives. This number was an increase from the 37,000 who reported lifetime use in 2015.9
. Sitaram BR, Lockett L, Talomsin R, Blackman GL, McLeod WR. (1987). In vivo metabolism of 5-methoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine and N,N-dimethyltryptamine in the rat. Biochemical Pharmacology 36, 1509-1512.
. Tittarelli R, Mannocchi G, Pantano F, Romolo FS. (2015). Recreational use, analysis and toxicity of tryptamines. Current Neuropharmacology 13, 26-46.
. Warren JM, Dham-Nayyar P, Alexander J. (2013). Recreational use of naturally occurring dimethyltryptamine – contributing to psychosis? Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 47, 398-9.
. Strassman RJ. (1996). Human psychopharmacology of N,N-dimethyltryptamine. Behavioural Brain Resesarch 73, 121-124.
. Winstock AR, Kaar S, Borschmann R. (2014). Dimethyltryptamine (DMT): Prevalence, user characteristics and abuse liability in a large global sample. Journal of Psychopharmacology 28, 49-54.
. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. Arlington, VA, American Psychiatric Publishing.
. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Hallucinogens.
. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2016).N,N-DIMETHYLTRYPTAMINE
. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables.
. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015). How Do Hallucinogens (LSD, Psilocybin, Peyote, DMT, and Ayahuasca) Affect the Brain and Body?