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DMT Withdrawal: Symptoms and Treatment

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Last updated: 12/1/2021
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Reading Time: 6 minutes

N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a psychoactive and hallucinogenic Schedule I tryptamine drug extracted from plants and produced synthetically. This drug produces effects similar to those of psychedelic drugs like LSD and psilocybin (magic mushrooms). DMT is not considered physically addictive and does not lead to physiological dependence or withdrawal symptoms, but chronic use can still negatively affect your life.1,2

What Causes DMT Withdrawal?

Unlike addictive substances, such as alcohol, opioids, cocaine, crystal meth, benzodiazepines, and more, DMT is not addictive and does not lead to physical dependence—this means you won’t experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it. However, if you do experience any unwanted DMT withdrawal symptoms, they will be psychological, such as cravings to use DMT again.

The real danger of prolonged DMT use is the development of flashbacks, persistent psychosis, or hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), in which you re-experience hallucinations and the other psychoactive effects of DMT.3

DMT Withdrawal Symptoms

Chronic DMT use doesn’t cause dependence and withdrawal. However, the effects of use can potentially be distressing or harmful. Synthetic DMT affects you quickly, producing effects within 5 to 10 minutes. Plant-based brews tend to produce effects within 20 to 60 minutes.2

During and immediately following consumption, you might feel detached from reality and have some of the following symptoms:2

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Euphoria
  • Floating sensation
  • Vivid hallucinations
  • Altered sense of time
  • Depersonalization
  • Elevated blood pressure and heart rate
  • Dry mouth
  • Profuse sweating
  • Bizarre behaviors
  • Psychosis
  • Agitation (can be long-term)
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid eye movements
  • Chest pain
  • Overwhelming fright (this can last for days)

At high doses, DMT may cause seizures, respiratory arrest, and coma.3 DMT’s physical side effects of raising both heart rate and blood can be dangerous, especially if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure.1 Some people experience lingering mental effects for days or weeks after use.

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Withdrawal Timeline

Although DMT doesn’t produce a traditional withdrawal syndrome, the effects of DMT use wearing off may be referred to as DMT withdrawal. A DMT “trip” is not prolonged because the body rapidly metabolizes the drug. The effects of the drug last 15 to 60 minutes, depending on how it was taken. On average, the drug’s effects start within two minutes and are negligible by 30 minutes.2

Unpleasant symptoms typically last an hour or less, but some people experience unpleasant effects for hours, days, or months afterward and may be unable to function properly. Behavior may be erratic during this time.2

Is Withdrawal Dangerous?

DMT withdrawal is not typically dangerous, but the more DMT you use, the higher your risk for experiencing dangerous side effects.

DMT can also result in high levels of the neurotransmitter, serotonin. This can lead to a potentially life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome. If you use DMT while taking antidepressants, especially monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), you are at higher risk for developing this condition. Seek immediate medical attention if you use DMT and experience any of the following symptoms of serotonin syndrome:4

  • Disorientation
  • Agitation
  • Tremors
  • Rigid muscles
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Arrhythmia
  • High body temperature
  • Shivering
  • Vomiting
  • Dilated pupils

Detox: Managing DMT Withdrawal Symptoms

Since most individuals will not experience any DMT withdrawal symptoms, a formal detox program may not be necessary since detox helps manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. However, if you have quit DMT use and believe you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, detox can’t hurt. You will receive 24/7 medical oversight and supervision, as well as supportive treatments you may need, such as IV fluids or vitamins. You may also receive counseling as well as assistance in transitioning to a DMT addiction treatment program. Many people benefit from the calm, supportive, and trigger-free environment of a detox program.

Transitioning to DMT Addiction Treatment

Detox is not a replacement for rehab and participating in addiction treatment programs following detox has numerous benefits. A long-term DMT rehab program will provide the support and targeted care you need to overcome your DMT addiction or hallucinogen addiction. Treatment that lasts 90 days or longer is more likely to produce the best possible treatment outcomes and result in lasting sobriety.2 Although many DMT recovery-focused treatment options and drug rehab programs can help you, an inpatient treatment program or outpatient rehab are two common and effective options.

Inpatient Care

Inpatient or residential rehab is appropriate if you have:7

  • An underlying health conditions
  • A co-occurring mental health disorder
  • A polydrug addiction
  • Experienced multiple relapses

If you choose a 24/7 inpatient treatment program, you will live at the recovery center for the duration of the program. Treatment might last from 28 days to six months, depending on your needs. This environment allows you to separate yourself from your using environment and participate in group counseling, individual therapy, family counseling, relapse prevention classes, support groups, and aftercare planning.7

Outpatient

If inpatient treatment is not the right fit for you, outpatient treatment programs are another option. While you might enter outpatient treatment as the main form of treatment for DMT abuse, you can also utilize outpatient as a step-down treatment program after completing an inpatient recovery program. This transition to step-down care can help ease your re-entry into everyday life.7

Some outpatient programs meet once or twice per week for a few hours at a time, while others meet more often, providing treatment for two to three hours per day, three to four days per week. The most intensive form of outpatient treatment is partial hospitalization, which typically meets five days per week for four to six hours each day.6 Many outpatient programs offer physician oversight.

In outpatient treatment, you will participate in individual and group therapy sessions, complete homework assignments independently, and maintain personal obligations and responsibilities.7

Programs may include:7

  • Educational classes
  • Recovery programs like Narcotics Anonymous or SMART Recovery
  • Training on how to cope with high-risk situations, respond to triggers, and manage cravings
  • Life skills development for lasting sobriety
  • Guided meditation and yoga practice for physical and emotional healing
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Family therapy
  • Specialized therapies like music therapy or art therapy

Aftercare

You might choose to continue your treatment with additional recovery programs like sober living programs or aftercare. Both options are ideal for sustained sobriety and ongoing recovery.7

If you choose a sober living program, you will have access to a safe, sober, and supportive housing option for recovery. Residents must adhere to the staff’s rules and policies and may also be required to attend recovery support group meetings. Many sober living homes also provide services such as:7

  • Regular drug and alcohol testing
  • Individualized recovery programming
  • Educational planning
  • Employment assistance
  • Peer-guided personal monitoring

Aftercare programs provide positive support from peers and professional addiction treatment specialists. A program may last eight weeks or more, and regular attendance can serve as sobriety check-ins.7

DMT addiction and dependence can cause serious side effects and severely impact your health and well-being, but there is hope for recovery. If you are concerned about your DMT use or that of a loved one, call 800-926-9037 (Who Answers?) for 24/7 help.

Resources

  1. Drug Enforcement Administration, Diversion Control Division. (2019). Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section. N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). 
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Hallucinogens Drug Facts
  3. Hermle, L., Simon, M., Ruchsow, M., & Geppert, M. (2012). Hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, 2(5), 199-205.
  4. Volpi-Abadie, J., Kaye, A. M., & Kaye, A. D. (2013). Serotonin syndrome. The Ochsner journal13(4), 533–540.
  5. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.).Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
  6. Garcia-Romeu, A., Kersgaard, B., Addy, P. H. (2016). Clinical applications of hallucinogens: A review. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 24(4), 229–268.
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2018). Principles of Effective Treatment.

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