DMT is an extremely potent hallucinogenic drug illegal at the federal level in the U.S. and many other countries. Although there is some debate on whether DMT is addictive like other psychoactive substances, the drug presents dangerous physical and psycho-emotional risks, and frequent users can develop emotional dependence.
What Is DMT?
DMT (N, N-Dimethyltryptamine) is a chemical that develops naturally in the brain and plants (Ayahuasca) native to Central and South America. DMT is often found in the form of a white powder. People usually smoke DMT out of a pipe or brew it into teas, such as Ayahuasca and yagé. Also, DMT users sometimes inject the drug, although this is relatively rare.
DMT is, in fact, one of the least commonly-used intoxicating substances in the U.S. and around the globe. Many people who try DMT have already experimented with other hallucinogens, different types of drugs, or alcohol.
Effects and Risks of DMT
Like many other psychedelic substances, DMT stimulates the production of serotonin, a brain neurochemical that produces feelings of pleasure and reward. DMT causes people to experience intense happiness, hallucinations, and altered perceptions of reality, which users often describe as life-changing.
A DMT trip can begin near-immediate and generally lasts less than an hour when the drug is smoked. Users who drink DMT as a tea often start to experience hallucinations after about 30 minutes that lasts for 4-6 hours.
It is the changes to serotonin levels and processing that produce the characteristic visual, auditory, or tactile distortions or hallucinations associated with DMT. While the hallucinatory effects are usually brief, the person who experiences it often believes it was real. Some individuals who use the drug on multiple occasions self-report that they have witnessed the universe’s true underlying nature and structure.
Because DMT causes the brain to release excessive serotonin, high doses of the drug may lead to potentially life-threatening conditions known as serotonin syndrome. This condition might provoke seizures, cause confusion and agitation, high fever, and induce a coma. For this reason, the use of DMT with antidepressants or other substances that affect serotonin is warned against by those who advocate for its use.
While many DMT users report positive psychological experiences with the drug, others have suffered from “bad trips” described as confusing and terrifying. In fact, DMT’s psychological effects can be traumatizing, especially for those who have a severe mental health disorder, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
DMT Dependence and Addiction
Unlike most hallucinogens, there is little evidence that DMT use will lead to tolerance, chemical dependence, or physical withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, researchers generally do not believe that DMT has much potential for full-blown addiction. Furthermore, there is no evidence that using DMT significantly changes or inflicts damage to a person’s brain or body on a long-term basis.
However, DMT can cause emotional dependence if a person repeatedly uses it to escape reality or as a means to self-medication in some way. Some DMT users even consider the drug to be a source of therapy and take it regularly to improve emotional states. When people use DMT in this way, they may eventually feel unable to stop using the drug.
Limited studies on DMT dependence suggest that users can develop cravings for the substance and experience psychological distress when they cannot use it. Someone who develops a DMT habit is more likely to incur unwanted effects on their health. Behaviors that indicate DMT dependence include taking increasing and more frequent doses of the drug, as well as compulsive drug-seeking behavior despite the incurrence of adverse consequences.
Getting Treatment for Substance Abuse and Addiction
Although DMT abuse does not commonly result in dependence or full-blown addiction, it does have some potential for abuse, and users may experience terrifying, life-changing effects. The more someone uses DMT, the higher the risk of adverse complications occurring.
When used for therapeutic or spiritual purposes, DMT is administered in the context of a group led by an experienced user. The use of DMT without this guided interaction is definitely not recommended. As noted, DMT is illegal in the U.S. at the federal level. However, some areas allow Native American churches to hold ceremonies that include using this drug for religious practices.
If you are abusing DMT, other drugs, or alcohol, we urge you to contact us as soon as possible to discuss treatment options. Just Believe Recovery offers comprehensive programs that feature essential evidence-based services, such as psychotherapy, individual and family counseling, peer group support, psychoeducation, art and music therapy, aftercare planning, and much more.