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DMT, or N, N-dimethyltryptamine, is a hallucinogenic substance that causes a fleeting psychedelic trip. The onset of effects can be as fast as 45 seconds, peaking around one minute, and wearing off within 15 minutes.1 For decades, tryptamine substances have been synthesized, used, and often misused for recreational purposes. Tryptamines, including DMT, have become known as party drugs.1 It is illegal to make, possess, purchase, or distribute DMT because it is considered a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it is both addictive and dangerous.2 Chronic use of this psychedelic can cause harmful effects, such as DMT addiction.
DMT Addiction Signs
Compared to other commonly used drugs, such as heroin, prescription opioids, and cocaine, DMT is far less addictive, and no studies have shown it to lead to physical dependence and withdrawal thus far. However, as with most substances that produce desirable effects, chronic use can cause someone to be psychologically dependent on DMT, meaning they experience cravings and may feel they need to use it.
Signs of DMT addiction may include:3
- Craving DMT
- Using higher or more frequent doses of DMT than originally intended
- Mixing DMT with other substances to achieve a better or different high
- Struggling to quit or reduce the amount used
- Isolating yourself from others or finding ways to hide your use of DMT
- Spending an inordinate amount of time obtaining and using DMT, as well as recovering from its effects
- Continuing DMT use despite negatively affecting your relationships or work
- Continuing DMT use despite mental or physical health problems caused or worsened by use
- Needing higher amounts of DMT to feel desired effects
- Neglecting important recreational activities in favor of DMT use
If you or someone you know is struggling with DMT addiction, call our 24/7 helpline at 800-405-1685 (Who Answers?) to find the best program.
DMT Side Effects
In the short term, DMT makes everything seem distorted. It makes you hallucinate, meaning you see, hear, smell, or taste things that aren’t there. Your experience hallucinating can be a good one, or it can be bad. You don’t get to choose which type of experience you have before you take DMT.4
DMT drug effects are not long-lasting, but they can be very intense. When high from DMT, you may experience:4
- Heightened senses
- Double vision
- Distortions of reality
- Out-of-body experiences
- Enhanced mood
- Raised blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Injuries can happen when you are hallucinating due to a lack of coordination and distortions brought on by the drug
If you have a good experience with DMT, you may feel extreme happiness, joy, and closeness with other people and the earth in general. On the other hand, if your DMT experience is a bad one, you may experience profound fear, anxiety, and terrifying thoughts.4
The long-term effects of DMT addiction have not been established. Unlike other hallucinogens, such as LSD, chronic DMT use doesn’t appear to lead to tolerance, which causes people to take increasing doses of the drug to experience the desired effects.4
In some people with existing mental illness, DMT can lead to a disorder called HPPD, or Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder.3
Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD)
HPPD refers to flashbacks or reliving the hallucinogenic effects of DMT long after ingested, when the person is sober. Flashbacks can occur days, weeks, months, and years after taking DMT. For some, the flashbacks are a good experience.3
For others, however, the flashbacks can be disturbing. Because there may not be any warning about when the flashbacks will occur and how distressing they will be, they can interfere with significant life events.3
HPPD happens because DMT affects the brain’s structure and functioning. There is no way to tell who will get HPPD and who will not.3
DMT in the brain affects the neurotransmitter called serotonin. When released, serotonin sends out feel-good signals. Low serotonin levels are related to depressive disorders. Serotonin also affects digestion, breathing, blood flow, and body temperature.5
Taking DMT in high quantities can lead to a dangerous condition known as serotonin syndrome, in which the levels of serotonin in the body are too high.5
People who are already taking anti-depressants, migraine medications, and even supplements like Ginseng that increase serotonin levels, are especially at risk.5
Too much serotonin can lead to:5
- Agitation or restlessness
- Abnormal eye movements
- Diarrhea or other digestive problems
- Fast heartbeat and high blood pressure
- A rise in body temperature
- Loss of balance or coordination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Quick changes in blood pressure
Seek medical treatment immediately if any of these symptoms appear. Serotonin syndrome can be potentially life-threatening and is considered a medical emergency.
DMT Treatment Options
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, DMT is a hallucinogen that is not typically considered to be addictive but both psychological and physical symptoms may appear when quitting the use of the drug.6
Effective treatment for DMT addiction can address both with an individualized treatment plan. Treatment can begin in an inpatient rehab setting, allowing you to take a break from your everyday lifestyle and environment.7
Taking a break gives you time to focus solely on recovering from DMT use while also receiving medical supervision 24/7 in case you experience flashbacks or other physical or psychological side effects.
Outpatient services, such as intensive outpatient programs or partial hospitalization programs, give you multiple forms of therapy every week. When not in treatment, you can continue to work and fulfill duties in both your professional and personal life.7
When searching for a suitable treatment facility, look for the following:7
- Accreditation and licensure of the facility, as well as staff
- Evidence-based therapies to treat substance use disorders and addictions (examples are cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy)
- Education on addiction is provided, from how it happens to the basics of recovery
- Peer support is available
- Complementary therapies are available, if desired (examples include art or music therapy, mindfulness, and meditation)
- Basic living skills are taught, like how to create a budget and understand finances, parenting, and relationship skills
- Vocational and educational assistance or referral to outside resources to help you advance in these areas if needed
- Goal setting and planning skills
- Access or referral to sober living and other step-down services and follow-up care
- Treatment of co-occurring disorders, or dual diagnosis, is available
With help, you can overcome the harmful effects of using DMT. Today can be the day you stop. Call 800-405-1685 (Who Answers?) for more information. We are here to help you jumpstart your recovery journey.
- Tittarelli, R., Mannocchi, G., Pantano, F., & Romolo, F.S. (2015). Recreational use, analysis, and toxicity of tryptamines. Current Neuropharmacology, 13:26-46.
- Federal Register. (2009). The Daily Journal of the United States Government. Schedules of Controlled Substances. Placement of 5-Methoxy-N, N-Dimethyltryptamine into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
- American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, (2013). DSM-5. American Psychiatric Association.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015). Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs Research Report. How Do Hallucinogens (LSD, Psilocybin, Peyote, DMT, and Ayahuasca) Affect the Body and the Brain?
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021). Serotonin Syndrome. MedlinePlus.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Hallucinogen Drug Facts. What Are Hallucinogens? https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens
- McLellan, A.T. & McKay, J.R. (1998). The Treatment of Addiction: What Can Research Offer Practice? Bridging the Gap between Practice and Research: Forging Partnerships with Community-Based Drug and Alcohol Treatment. Penn-VA Center for Studies of Addiction and The Treatment Research Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. National Academies Press.