Treatment for DMT Abuse

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Calendar icon Last Updated: 12/1/2021

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DMT, or N, N-dimethyltryptamine, is a hallucinogenic drug that produces an intense, short-lived psychedelic trip. DMT’s popularity has been on the rise in recent years, with a larger number of new individuals using it compared to other drugs. Because of its desirable effects, there is a very high risk of DMT abuse.1 If you or someone you know is struggling with DMT abuse, treatment is available. Inpatient and outpatient DMT addiction treatment can help you quit using DMT by addressing the underlying issues that motivated DMT use in the first place.

Signs You May Need DMT Addiction Treatment

Thus far, DMT use has not been shown to cause physiological dependence, and its addictive potential is currently unknown. However, it may be possible to develop a psychological dependence on it, meaning you feel compelled to use it.

If you are struggling with compulsive DMT abuse, you may benefit from a treatment program. Signs of a DMT addiction include:2

  • Spending a great deal of time obtaining DMT, using it, and recovering from the effects of it
  • Continuing using DMT despite failing to fulfill work, home, or social responsibilities
  • Continuing DMT use despite having social or interpersonal problems as a result
  • Giving up social, occupational, or recreational activities to have more time for DMT use
  • Continuing use despite having physical or psychological problems as a result of DMT
  • Taking more DMT and over a longer period of time than you intended
  • Having difficulty cutting down or controlling DMT use
  • Using DMT in physically hazardous situations (e.g., driving, using on a rooftop)

While 2-3 of the above criteria need to be present over the past 12 months for a diagnosis of a hallucinogen use disorder, or DMT addiction, it is best to seek treatment even if just one of them applies to you; treatment can help prevent DMT abuse from progressing to an addiction.

Types of Treatment for DMT Addiction

The two main treatment settings for DMT addiction include inpatient and outpatient, with outpatient having varying levels of intensity. Detox is often an important first step on the continuum of care for many people struggling with a substance addiction. Currently, no medications exist for the treatment of DMT addiction, however behavioral and psychological therapies can be helpful.3

Detoxification

Detoxification (detox) is often the first step of treatment and can occur at a hospital, at free-standing detox facility, or on an outpatient basis. Detox is the safe removal of a substance from the body. This is needed when someone is experiencing distressing withdrawal symptoms that require professional intervention and medical management.4

Because physiological dependence and withdrawal due to DMT have not been shown to occur, DMT detox may not be necessary, unless you also misuse other drugs—a practice known as polysubstance use.

Inpatient Rehab

With inpatient or residential treatment, you live at the treatment facility for the entire length of the program. This is the most intensive and structured option, as you are separated from your everyday using environment and following a strict routine. At an inpatient DMT addiction rehab, you receive around-the-clock care as well, with nurses and doctors available at all times in case of medical emergency.

Therapy usually includes individual, group, and family therapy. Inpatient treatment typically lasts for one month up to 12 months and may benefit you if you:5

  • Have a severe addiction to DMT
  • Have a polydrug addiction
  • Have a co-occurring mental health disorder, such as a mood or anxiety disorder
  • Have been unsuccessful with stopping or reducing substance use in the past
  • Want to avoid triggers for use that exist in your normal life

Luxury rehab is another type of residential rehab, and it is exactly like it sounds: treatment in an upscale setting. It usually includes private, spacious rooms, gourmet meals, and various other amenities. The goal is to have privacy, tranquility, and comfort while getting the best treatments that are tailored to your needs and goals. While the costs can vary between different luxury programs, overall, the cost will be higher than a standard rehab program.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment, which involves living at home and attending therapy at a treatment center, can occur in several settings, including:

  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs): Intended as a bridge between inpatient and standard outpatient, this option is best for people with a moderate to severe DMT addiction who are unable to attend inpatient. You attend treatment 5-7 days per week, for several hours per day.
  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs): A step down from PHPs, IOPs include 3-5 days of treatment per week, for a few hours at a time.
  • Standard outpatient: This is the least intensive option, involving 1-2 sessions per week, for 1-2 hours at a time.

PHPs and IOPs may last up to 90 days, whereas standard outpatient can be ongoing, as you and your therapist decide how long you want to continue attending counseling.
It is not uncommon for people to choose to stay in therapy for several years since DMT abuse or addiction is related to both interpersonal and intrapersonal issues. Moreover, your goals for personal growth may shift over time.5 Standard outpatient treatment is appropriate if you:

  • Have a milder addiction, with one or two of the DMT abuse criteria, but your use has not impacted most areas of your life
  • Have a strong sober support system
  • Have a strong internal motivation to quit

Therapies for DMT Addiction Treatment

Therapies used for DMT addiction may vary between treatment facilities and teams. However, all types are generally available in both individual and group therapy modalities.

The theory of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is that the way that you think impacts how you feel, and how you feel affects your behaviors, including how you cope. Therefore, CBT involves shifting your thought processes to more helpful ones that can lead to more positive feelings. In turn, you are less likely to use DMT to escape negative feelings and are more likely to use healthier coping strategies in response to stressors. CBT is a common approach that has empirical evidence for its effectiveness in treatment.6

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) stems from the idea that negative cognitions and emotions arise from problems in relationships with others. Therefore, therapy tends to focus on understanding the self in relation to others and enhancing communication skills. IPT is also empirically supported and follows a highly structured and time-limited approach (usually completed within 12-16 weeks).7

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is based on the premise that life struggles stem from early childhood experiences and the relationship you have with yourself as a result. By working through those issues, you can start to feel more in control of emotional pain related to the past and have a better relationship with yourself so that you don’t feel the need to use DMT to escape. While the psychodynamic approach is not as common as it once was, most therapists facilitate exploration of childhood and familial experiences as they relate to current concerns. Moreover, empirical evidence supports psychodynamic psychotherapy.8

Holistic Interventions

The philosophy of holistic treatment is that all aspects of the self should be treated rather than just addictive behaviors or mental health concerns alone. This is thought to better sustain improvements made in therapy because the focus of the work is on the entire person (physical, mental, spiritual) and making your lifestyle healthier. These holistic therapies may be offered in outpatient, intensive outpatient, and residential settings and are usually used in conjunction with traditional therapies. Some holistic treatments include:9

  • Dance/movement therapy: Based on the assertion that mind, body, and spirit are interconnected and that by exercising the body, you also exercise the mind and release emotions
  • Tai chi: An Asian martial art that has evolved into an exercise that is used for stress reduction
  • Art therapy: Based on the premise that creativity can foster emotional expression, healing, and mental wellbeing through drama, music, or writing
  • Meditation: The practice of being aware of your thought patterns and bodily sensations, and focusing on the present moment since spending too much time in the past or worrying about the future can lead to depression and anxiety
  • Equine therapy: Based on the idea that being around animals and caring for them improves mental health, self-esteem, confidence, empathy, and selflessness.

Various other treatment methods typically stem from these four, and most therapists integrate various philosophies and methods into their work rather than solely using just one.

Recovery Support After DMT Treatment

After inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment, you may be referred to a “step down” (aftercare, or continuing care) program that helps you transition from treatment to your normal life. The purpose of aftercare is to help sustain the progress made in rehab. A common aftercare setting is a substance-free living community—known as a sober living home—that is particularly helpful if you are regularly exposed to substances in your normal life.10

After completing a treatment program, outpatient therapy is important to help sustain recovery. Continuing to work on your personal growth can help sustain abstinence and is usually done for up to a year or longer. Additionally, if applicable, seeing a medical doctor on an outpatient basis for psychotropic medications, such as antidepressants or antianxiety medication, may be a part of your overall treatment.

Alongside stepdown programs or outpatient therapy, you could also attend 12-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which are helpful for many people to get support from others and remain abstinent from substances. Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) is another recovery program that is available face-to-face or online. SMART meetings are educational and have open discussions. Topics addressed include self-empowerment, self-reliance, and tools and techniques for maintaining sobriety and making positive change. Such aftercare programs have been shown to improve and sustain recovery.11

Seeking DMT addiction treatment early is key for preventing or worsening problems due to DMT use. For assistance in finding the right treatment program for you, you can call 800-926-9037 (Info iconWho Answers?) for 24/7 help.

Resources

  1. Winstock, A.R., Kaar, S., & Borschmann, R. (2014). Dimethyltryptamine (DMT): prevalence, user characteristics and abuse liability in a large global sample. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 28(1), 49-54.
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Other hallucinogen use disorder. In Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed, 523-524). American Psychiatric Publishing.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, April). Hallucinogens.
  4. National Institutes on Health. (n.d.). Overview, essential concepts, and definitions in detoxification.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, January). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide.
  6. Magill, M., Ray, L., Kiluk, B., Hoadley, A., Bernstein, M., Tonigan, J. S., & Carroll, K. (2019). A meta-analysis of cognitive-behavioral therapy for alcohol or other drug use disorders: Treatment efficacy by contrast condition.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 87(12), 1093–1105.
  7. Markowitz, J.C., & Weissman, M.M. (2012). Interpersonal psychotherapy: Past, present and future. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 19(2), 99-105.
  8. Gregory, R. J., Chlebowski, S., Kang, D., Remen, A. L., Soderberg, M. G., Stepkovitch, J., & Virk, S. (2008). A controlled trial of psychodynamic psychotherapy for co-occurring borderline personality disorder and alcohol use disorder. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 45(1), 28–41.
  9. Breslin, K.T., Reed, M.R., & Malone, S.B. (2003). An holistic approach to substance abuse treatment. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 35(2), 247-251.
  10. McKay, J.R. (2009). Continuing care research: What we’ve learned and where we’re going. J Subst Abuse Treat, 36(2), 131-145. https://doi.org/1016/j.jsat.2008.10.004
  11. Jason, L.A., Davis, M.I., & Ferrari, J.R. (2007). The need for substance abuse after-care: Longitudinal analysis of Oxford House. Addictive Behaviors, 32(4), 803-818.