DMT Abuse, Addiction and Rehab: The Hallucinogenic Drug that May Not be as Safe as it Seems
Written By: Robert Castan | Edited By: Editorial Team | Last Updated: June 6, 2021
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DMT abuse and even addiction is becoming more commonplace in the United States. This hallucinogenic drug has grown in popularity because of its psychotropic effects. Yet, many people are completely unaware of how dangerous using it can be.
It is possible for people to become addicted to and dependent upon DMT. When this occurs, treatment may be needed to help them stop using it. Going to drug rehab can provide people with the support they need to recover from this addiction and embrace a life of recovery.
But people are typically more interested in the trip that DMT has to offer than any negative side effects of continued use. We want to help by explaining some of the concerns we have about DMT so that more people are made aware of them. We also want to discuss the best ways for people to get the help they need to stop.
What is DMT?
DMT, or N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, is a hallucinogenic drug that actually occurs in many animals and plants. Using it results in a psychedelic experience that can be enjoyable and euphoric. This drug is not as well-known as others in this category, such as magic mushrooms or LSD. Its effects are brief but very powerful.
In the United States, DMT is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. That means that it is illegal to possess, buy, distribute or manufacture it. This drug has a high potential for abuse and there is currently no recognized medical use for it. It is available for research, but only after getting approval from the FDA and DEA.
DMT has been a drug of abuse for thousands of years. Historically, some cultures have used it during religious ceremonies or to gain deep spiritual insight. Some users refer to this drug as the “spirit molecule” for this reason.
As we mentioned earlier, DMT is present naturally in some plants and animals. Scientists have studied this drug for a very long time to determine its purpose. Dr. David Luke is a Senior Psychologist at Greenwich University. He has spent a lot of time working to determine if there is a link between DMT and the near-death experiences people have described. There are many natural plant psychedelic drugs, but this one is in humans. That sets it apart.
Researchers have found that DMT is found in large quantities in cerebral spinal fluid in humans. It is produced in the lungs and eyes as well. There are some who believe that it is made in the pineal gland, which is the gland responsible for producing serotonin during the day and melatonin at night.
When asked how being on DMT is like having a near-death experience, Dr. Luke says there are many similarities. People talk about all of the following:
- Having a sensation like they were leaving their bodies.
- Walking into a tunnel filled with light.
- Having flashbacks of their lives.
- Meeting angels or perhaps deceased relatives.
- Seeing other strange images that may not be explainable through words.
Dr Luke stated, “Research has suggested that there is an overlap between that experience and the experience people have when on DMT. In that there’s often encounters with beings, out of body experience, life changing experience, which is often said of near death experiences.”
In the 1990s, Dr. Rick Strassman stated that when a human has a near-death experience, the brain releases its stores of DMT. As a result, the person has a psychedelic occurrence. He believed that its purpose was to help people transition from life to death and make it less scary. But there is still so much more research that needs to be done in this area.
A DMT trip can begin as soon as 45 seconds or so after it is used, depending on the method of delivery. If it is consumed as a drink or in food, it has to pass through the digestive system first. This adds some time before the effects kick in.
There are many websites that allow members to post about their trips on DMT and other drugs as well. Reddit is one of them. One user describes his DMT trip in vivid detail. He states that just some of the things he saw and experienced included:
- Strange shapes floating around the room.
- A being standing over him at his bedside.
- The loss of any sense of time.
- What seemed like the release of a fog or gas.
- A bright light in his eyes.
- A sense of panic.
- The transfer of ideas and knowledge between himself and other beings.
What are the Physical and Mental Side Effects of DMT?
The main effect that DMT has is psychological. It is known to produce strong and intense hallucinations. Users experience sensations of euphoria and a change in how they perceive body, space and time.
Some of the other side effects people describe include:
- An increased heart rate
- An increased blood pressure
- Pain or tightness in the chest
- Feelings of agitation
- Dilated pupils
- Strange, rhythmic eye movements
- Feelings of dizziness
For those who take DMT orally, it can lead to diarrhea, nausea and vomiting as well. Any of these effects can last as long as several days or weeks following the person’s DMT trip.
There are risks to abusing DMT, which most people are not aware of when they try it for the first time. For people who have heart conditions, the increase in heart rate and blood pressure can be particular concerning. It is also possible for some people to have seizures, lose muscle control and experience confusion.
Using DMT may be an exciting trip for some people, but it is not without its dangers. Some experts have even said that it can cause people to fall into a coma or suffer from cardiac arrest. Continued use is likely to result in persistent psychosis.
Using DMT can result in higher levels than normal of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, in the brain. This can cause a life-threatening condition that is known as serotonin syndrome. People who use this drug while taking an antidepressant such as an MAIO have a higher risk of serotonin syndrome.
Serotonin syndrome can cause serious symptoms, including:
- Muscle spasms
- Dilated pupils
- Bouts of confusion
- Muscle rigidity
- Overactive reflexes
With proper treatment, it is possible to recover from serotonin syndrome. But without it, the muscles can break down in the body, releasing products that can enter the blood stream and the kidneys. This can lead to serious kidney damage, which is how people die from this condition.
Is DMT Physically Addictive?
There is no evidence that DMT is physically addictive. That means that people will not experience a strong physical desire to continue using it. But this drug can be psychologically addictive. In fact, many people come to believe that they need a regular dose of this drug in order to function properly.
What Type of Treatment is Needed for DMT Addiction Recovery?
Fortunately, there are no real withdrawal symptoms caused by repeated DMT use and quitting this drug. This is because of how quickly the body can metabolize the drug. In some drug tests, one hour after a person has used DMT, it is no longer detectable in their system.
That does not mean that willpower alone can help people recover. They do have to want to stop using it, of course. But it is important to discover the underlying reason for the person to abuse DMT. This is done in drug rehab.
Drug rehab is a way of treating addiction by addressing the root cause of the problem. In involves various types of therapy to help the person understand their addictive behaviors and make the necessary changes in their lives.
Some people may use DMT one time purely out of curiosity. But there are others who may seek to use this drug as a way of escaping their current reality. It is not uncommon for many of these people to struggle with co-occurring disorders. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this is the case about 50% of the time.
A co-occurring disorder is defined as a mental health condition that has contributed in some way to an addiction. A person who is addicted to DMT may be suffering because of undiagnosed:
Dual diagnosis treatment is necessary to ensure that the root cause of the addiction is treated. When people get this type of care, there is less of a risk that they will relapse in the future.
What are the Options for Drug Addiction Treatment?
People with DMT addictions can benefit from several different types of rehab programs. For example, they may need to consider:
A lot of people assume that they can go to rehab, recover from addiction and move on with their lives. We wish we could say that was the case. But addiction recovery is ongoing, and it is something that people need to continue to work on for a long time.
When people leave rehab, they do so with follow-up instructions. They might include transitioning into a lower level of care, such as moving from a PHP into an IOP. Some people may also be recommended for Narcotics Anonymous. It is important to continue to get help because the people who do are the ones who are likely to remain in recovery.
SpringBoard Recovery: Get Recovery Help Today for DMT Abuse and Addiction
At SpringBoard Recovery, we have done a lot of research on DMT and we have extensive training in how to treat this addiction. We know how difficult it can be for people to reach out for help, and we want to assure them that getting treatment can make a huge difference in their lives.
We offer outpatient rehabilitation services at our facility in Arizona. We specialize in intensive outpatient treatment, and our IOP is among the best in the state. Many of our clients enjoy it because of its flexibility. They can go to work or school during the day and then get the treatment they need during the evening hours. Clients who attend IOP generally come to appointments 3-5 times per week.
In addition to offering our IOP, we also provide sober living services for people who need them. Sometimes people may live in an environment where they are not safe. They may be victims of an abusive relationship, or they may live with other people who also use drugs and/or alcohol. When this is the case, moving is usually their best course of action.
Our sober living home offers healthy, recover-minded residential support for people in addiction recovery. There are people living there who are from our local communities as well as from out of state. It is not uncommon for people to travel to Arizona for rehab, and sober living ensures they have a place to stay where they will get the support they need.
Learn More About DMT and Treatment for Recovery
Struggling with an addiction can be very lonely. Many people have preconceived notions that drug rehab will not help them out of their predicaments. They believe it will not be worth their time. But research indicates that people have a better chance of being successful when they have the right support.
Have you been in need of drug treatment for DMT addiction for quite some time? Maybe today is the day you make the decision to get help. We are here to assist you on your recovery journey. Please contact us today.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens
- Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/306889
- US National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5048497/#:~:text=N%2CN%2DDimethyltryptamine%20(DMT,intense%20psychedelic%20effects%20when%20ingested.
- Caroline Christie: http://littleatoms.com/science/psychedelic-drug-could-explain-our-belief-life-after-death
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/melatonin-what-you-need-to-know
- Rick Strassman: https://www.rickstrassman.com/
- Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/jc97k/iama_person_that_smoked_a_large_amount_of_dmt_and/
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/hallucinogens-dissociative-drugs/how-do-hallucinogens-lsd-psilocybin-peyote-dmt-ayahuasca-affect-brain-body
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- National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/
- National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/panic-disorder-when-fear-overwhelms/
- National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/
- National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/
- National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/
- National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10106610/