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DMT Addiction & Abuse

DMT isn’t generally considered addictive, but it can be abused. While DMT may one day be considered to have some legitimate medical uses, it is not currently an accepted treatment for any condition. Its use can potentially lead to frightening experiences and life-threatening symptoms.

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What Is DMT?

DMT (dimethyltryptamine) is a powerful and fast-acting hallucinogenic substance. Accepted medical applications for DMT do not exist at this moment in time. Frequent use of it has been linked with risky side effects, such as life-threatening symptoms and frightening psychosomatic experiences. 

The U.S government categorizes it as a Schedule I substance. This makes it a potential source of serious legal trouble if one is found producing it or having possession of any amount. 

While many factors may influence an individual’s decision to use DMT recreationally, research suggests that those who seek out this drug are often interested in its ability to produce vivid hallucinations and profound alterations in cognition and emotion within just minutes of consumption.

4 Quick Facts on DMT Abuse

  • Studies have shown DMT is fully hallucinogenic at doses between 0.2 and 0.4 mg/kg.
  • The effects of DMT are generally quick to begin but short-lasting. They begin shortly after taking a dose and end within 30 to 45 minutes.
  • The annual number of identifications of DMT in items analyzed by relevant law enforcement labs is relatively low, with 726 reports of items containing some amount of DMT in 2018 and a slow but steady rise to 1,033 reports in 2021.
  • Law enforcement has encountered DMT in every state.

Who Abuses DMT?

There is no single answer to why a person might misuse DMT as individual motivations can vary. However, some common reasons people might abuse DMT include the fact that, to some, the potent hallucinogenic effect associated with DMT might be alluring enough that they seek pleasure from experiencing euphoria or heightened sensory stimuli. Some cultures also employ plants containing DMT in their religious practices due to their belief that it leads to spiritual connections and mystical experiences. 

DMT is occasionally utilized as a coping mechanism by individuals battling psychological disorders like depression, anxiety, or trauma. They may hope it can trigger transformational experiences, leading them toward recovery. 

Due to the significant risk involved in using a powerful hallucinogen recklessly, this drug requires caution when handling it, particularly considering its possibility of inflicting harm on a person’s physical and mental well-being.

It’s worth noting that DMT is a potent and potentially dangerous substance, and using it can have serious consequences for a person’s physical and mental health. While there is some debate about the drug’s potential medical uses, it hasn’t been approved for any of the above use cases and shouldn’t be considered safe for those types of use. 

What Are the Causes of DMT Addiction?

There is limited research on DMT addiction specifically. However, based on what is known about the drug, it appears that DMT addiction is relatively uncommon compared to other substances.

One reason for this may be the nature of the drug’s effects. DMT produces a relatively short but very intense trip, which can be overwhelming and difficult to handle for many individuals. As a result, frequent or prolonged use of DMT can be difficult to sustain, as the intense and potentially unpleasant effects can quickly become unappealing or frightening.

Unlike traditional compounds with high addiction potential like alcohol or opioids, DMT appears not to have noteworthy physical dependency risks in most cases. Long-term ingestion often leads to tolerance buildup without the cravings seen with addictions. 

Despite claims regarding its efficacy for personal growth and spiritual experiences, proper precaution must be taken before engaging in DMT usage due to associated health risks, even if it may not be linked to addiction. Repeated use can potentially lead to psychological addiction even if physical dependence doesn’t form.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of DMT Abuse?

Individuals have reported detrimental outcomes with DMT abuse, including unstable psychological states or physical damage when taking this substance alone. Combining it with other drugs exacerbates those effects, and polysubstance abuse comes with a higher likelihood for dependency development. 

Signs of DMT abuse include the following:

  • Isolation
  • Decline in academic or work performance 
  • Poor hygiene
  • Emotional instability
  • Euphoria
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Paranoia

People who continuously abuse DMT may experience several adverse physical changes, such as weight loss over time, skin-related ailments like rashes, or hair-loss issues. Normal responsibilities like working get ignored, often replaced with using drugs or seeking out more drugs. 

Individuals who abuse DMT may face financial difficulties and prioritize drug use over other daily expenses, which can lead to severe economic consequences. Additionally, the use of DMT could potentially strain personal relationships with their loved ones due to unpredictable behavior and emotional detachment from social situations. 

The experiences caused by taking DMT transcend mere physical symptoms. It is characterized by a vast array of physiological as well as psychosomatic responses that can be strange, make daily life difficult, and may be frightening. 

Powerful hallucinogenic sensations that create both vivid imagery along with soundscapes may occur. Additionally, individuals may find themselves feeling detached from their usual sense of reality because their thinking has been muddled by using this powerful drug.

How Does DMT Impact the Mind & Body?

DMT has been known to provide overwhelming sensations of joy, satisfaction, and bliss that could continue lingering even after the individual stops using the drug. Nonetheless, it is essential to note that this feeling may not be experienced by everyone since some people may develop intense moments of anxiety and paranoia while under its influence, particularly those predisposed to such emotional tendencies.

The substance also triggers a short-term elevation in heart rate and blood pressure levels. Because of this, those with prior cardiovascular conditions must take precautionary measures before consuming it. 

When consuming DMT, individuals may experience nausea or vomiting. It is also known that this substance alters rapid eye movement (REM) sleep cycles, which can impact the restorative ability of normal sleeping patterns. 

The drug’s potential responses vary greatly between users dependent on many key variables, such as dosage amounts or environmental considerations. It remains crucial that people take great care when acquiring or ingesting DMT, as there are real dangers, such as psychiatric symptoms, alongside the potential for physical harm.

Withdrawal Symptoms From DMT

Whereas some drugs trigger an unpleasant array of physical and psychological symptoms when use is stopped following prolonged periods of habitual consumption, there is little indication that DMT leads to similar outcomes. 

Based on current knowledge surrounding this illicit substance, users can expect few, if any, withdrawal symptoms like those commonly observed with other mind-altering drugs. 

Can You Overdose on DMT? 

DMT overdose is characterized by symptoms of potential medical emergencies, such as shallow or rapid breathing, seizure or convulsions, unconsciousness leading to coma, and significantly increased heart rates. 

When consuming excessive amounts of DMT, one could experience extreme anxiety or panic attacks that are overwhelming and possibly risky. 

It’s worth noting that these indications could also signal other health concerns or interactions with other drugs. Therefore, immediate medical attention is essential when detecting these signs, whether they’re caused by DMT or another source.

How Is DMT Addiction Treated?

While many argue that DMT isn’t addictive by its nature, it can be difficult to stop if you’ve been abusing it regularly. In these cases, professional treatment from addiction professionals can help.

When dealing with drug addiction, the standard treatment approach includes talk therapy, specifically behavioral therapies, coupled with additional treatments that may aid in preventing further drug misuse. There is no medication to treat DMT addiction or abuse, but some medications may be prescribed to address individual symptoms a person is experiencing, such as insomnia, anxiety, or depression.

In treatment, you’ll build a network of support around yourself and a plan to avoid relapse, so you will be less likely to relapse back to DMT abuse. Support groups can be a critical part of this relapse prevention plan. Most addiction treatment programs include aftercare planning as part of their care plan.

Profile image for Dr. Alison Tarlow
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Alison Tarlow

Dr. Alison Tarlow is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the States of Florida and Pennsylvania, and a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She has been a practicing psychologist for over 15 years. Sh... Read More

Updated November 6, 2023
Resources
  1. N,N-DIMETHYLTRYPTAMINE (DMT). (December 2022). U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
  2. Psychedelic and Dissociative Drugs. (April 2023). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  3. Administration of N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in Psychedelic Therapeutics and Research and the Study of Endogenous DMT. (January 2022). Psychopharmacology.
  4. N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), an Endogenous Hallucinogen: Past, Present, and Future Research to Determine Its Role and Function. (August 2018). Frontiers in Neuroscience.
  5. Neuropharmacology of N,N-Dimethyltryptamine. (April 2016). Brain Research Bulletin.
  6. Acute Intoxication Following Dimethyltryptamine Ingestion. (February 2018). Case Reports in Emergency Medicine.
  7. Human Brain Effects of DMT Assessed via EEG-fMRI. (December 2022). The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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