Short-Term Effects, Long-Term Effects, and Side Effects of DMT Misuse
Is DMT Harmful?
DMT (dimethyltryptamine) is a hallucinogenic compound found naturally in a variety of plant species and produced endogenously in the human brain. Although the brain produces it naturally, the compound itself is still a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act, as it produces psychoactive effects and no known medical value has been established by the FDA.
DMT does not appear to produce tolerance and dependence in the same way that drugs like cocaine, heroin, and alcohol do. However, there are still adverse effects associated with the use and abuse of DMT.1,2
Short-Term Effects of DMT
DMT is commonly taken by users seeking a psychedelic “trip” similar to those produced by the ingestion of LSD and psilocybin. Many drug users choose DMT as an alternative to LSD because the duration of the trip is much shorter, lasting approximately 30 to 45 minutes rather than several hours, as is the case with LSD.
The drug has a rapid onset and effects are typically felt immediately.
A hallucinogenic DMT trip usually results in short-term effects including:1,2,3
- Altered perception of time and space.
- Feelings of intense joy.
- Visual and auditory hallucinations.
- Out-of-body experience.
- Perception of bright, intensified colors.
- Perceived insights or epiphanies (often believed to have come from aliens, divinities, or other mystical beings).
Side Effects of DMT Use
Physiological side effects of DMT use may include:1,2
- Dilated pupils.
- Involuntary rapid eye movement.
- Increased heart rate.
- High blood pressure.
- Coordination problems.
- Nausea and vomiting (typically when taken in oral forms such as ayahuasca).
- Coma and/or respiratory arrest (reported in high doses).
Long-Term Effects of DMT Abuse
More research needs to be done in order to determine the long-term negative effects of DMT abuse. As of now, research has not indicated that DMT creates tolerance in users.
The greatest risks of long-term use of DMT are psychological, since use puts the individual at the risk of developing psychosis and experiencing persistent flashbacks and hallucinations. Flashbacks can occur frequently and spontaneously. Some users may experience flashbacks of drug experiences months or even years after use. Flashbacks may cause a feeling of re-experiencing the hallucinogenic trip, resulting in a re-emergence of visual or auditory hallucinations or a reliving of traumatic memories or experiences.2
Frequent use of the classic hallucinogens—the class to which DMT belongs—can lead to persistent psychosis. Symptoms of persistent psychosis include:2
- Disordered mood.
- Disorganized thought.
- Persistent paranoia.
- Visual disturbances.
Another mental health problem that may arise due to frequent use of hallucinogens is referred to as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). Symptoms include:2
- Hallucinations and visual disturbances.
- Symptoms that would be present with other neurological problems such as brain tumors or cerebrovascular accident (i.e. stroke).
While DMT does not produce physical dependence, some individuals may abuse the drug to the point that they experience numerous problems as a result. This may be especially true in cases of polysubstance abuse, where the user is combining DMT with other psychoactive substances. A pattern of problematic hallucinogen use that causes significant problems or distress is characterized as “other hallucinogen use disorder.” Symptoms include:4
- Taking more DMT than intended.
- Unsuccessfully attempting to control or stop DMT use.
- Expending a lot of time and energy obtaining and using DMT or recovering from its effects.
- Craving DMT.
- Ignoring personal obligations in favor of using DMT.
- Continuing to use DMT in spite of mounting negative interpersonal, social, or physical/mental health consequences.
- Abandoning previously enjoyed habits or hobbies to use DMT.
DMT Addiction Treatment Programs
Currently, there are no FDA-approved medications for the treatment of DMT addiction.2 However, those who are struggling with addictions to DMT can seek effective behavioral therapies to help them control their drug use and find sobriety. Some common forms of behavioral therapy and addiction treatment that may benefit someone struggling with DMT abuse include:5
- Individual or group counseling: One-on-one or group counseling to address the underlying factors contributing to substance abuse.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: A type of therapy that focuses on teaching individuals techniques to use to cope with cravings in a healthy way and avoid relapse when a craving arises.
- 12-step programs: Support groups that provide a linear, step-by-step process to recovery with the support of peers facing similar addictions and struggles.
- Contingency management (behavioral incentives): A strategy that provides rewards and other forms of positive reinforcement for specific target behaviors such as abstinence.
- Motivational interviewing: A type of counseling that helps facilitate behavioral change by helping the client uncover his or her own intrinsic motivation from within.
- Inpatient rehabilitation: 24/7 addiction treatment for a specified period of time, typically ranging from 30 days to 90 days in duration. This type of treatment program will typically include some combination of the aforementioned therapeutic approaches.
American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading treatment provider and has trusted rehab facilities across the country. If you or someone you love is struggling with DMT addiction and you are in need of treatment services, please contact one of our treatment support specialists. You can receive assistance finding the right recovery center for you free at . There are also free drug abuse hotline numbers you can call.
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