How to Help a DMT Addict
N, N-Dimethyltryptamine is the chemical name for the drug commonly known as DMT. This potent hallucinogen, sometimes called “Dmitri,” can be synthesized in labs, but also occurs naturally in several types of South American plants. The substance has been used for hundreds of years during religious ceremonies before making its way into recreational use. The substance may be consumed by 1,2:
- Chewing it like snuff.
- Swallowing pills, tablets, or liquids.
- Brewing it into a tea called ayahuasca.
Although it occurs naturally, some labs illegally extract and synthesize DMT to sell illicitly 2.
If you love someone who’s abusing DMT or other drugs, help is available. While treatment can be elusive (less than 12% of people that need treatment get the help they need 3), there are some things you can do to increase the likelihood that your loved one will accept help and get the treatment they deserve.
How to Approach an Addict
Suspecting that someone you love has an issue with drug use can be a scary thought. Even worse, learning that your suspicions are true can be shocking, overwhelming, and anxiety-provoking as you question what actions you should pursue and which behaviors to avoid.
You are not alone with these feelings. In 2014, approximately 246,000 people were identified as having hallucinogen use disorders, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 4. Countless others have been directly and indirectly impacted by the addictions of their loved ones.
You may not be able to control the behavior of others, but utilizing the best approaches will put you in a better position to elicit real and lasting change for your loved one.
When approaching someone that is addicted to a substance like DMT, it may be helpful to focus on behaviors to avoid at the onset. Some statements or positions that you take early on can set a negative tone for the remainder of the relationship. Try to limit or avoid 5,6:
- Ignoring the problem.
- Being judgmental.
- Jumping to conclusions.
- Responding with anger.
- Being overly demanding or insistent with your follow-through.
Engaging in these actions will likely damage the relationship with the person using DMT. When the relationship is damaged, your influence will be reduced or eliminated.
Instead, consider behaviors that will help you to persuade your loved one to enter treatment by strengthening the core of the relationship 5,6:
- Remain calm and display empathy as you seek to understand the perspective of your loved one.
- Ask a lot of questions to gather information and listen intently to the responses.
- Educate yourself regarding addiction and the specific influence of DMT.
- Use communication that is nonjudgmental and clear.
- Build a team approach centered on problem-solving, not blaming.
- Encourage your loved one to seek treatment for their substance issues. Emphasize that while treatment may be a challenge, you know that they are up to the task.
- Focus on the positive aspects of your loved one’s life to move the emphasis away from addiction and toward an optimistic outlook for the future.
Community Reinforcement and Family Training
Many of these views and strategies are reflected in a style of treatment for substances use disorders called community reinforcement and family training (CRAFT). CRAFT is an extension of the community reinforcement approach that includes treatment for the concerned loved ones of the person with addiction 7.
Along with motivating the addicted individual to reduce their DMT use and seek treatment, CRAFT teaches that person’s family and loved ones to 7:
- Adjust their own behaviors, expectations, and responses to their loved one.
- Value and maintain their own self-care and independence.
CRAFT utilizes a long-term approach to develop the addict’s own motivation to seek abstinence and attend treatment with the hope of sustained recovery.
The long-term approach utilized in the CRAFT model stands in contrast to an intervention, which is focused on using a more confrontational approach to move the DMT user towards treatment and recovery.
A properly executed intervention is a planned, organized gathering of people the user loves. The individuals speak about the negative consequences associated with the individual’s DMT use and the boundaries they will enforce if treatment is not sought immediately, e.g., no longer providing money for rent.
It should be noted that there is a lack of evidence to support the notion that interventions are effective strategies for entering treatment or ending DMT use. In fact, interventions carry the risk of alienating the addicted person further and damaging the relationship. If you choose to do an intervention, a professional interventionist can help you create a structured and well-planned meeting where only the people who can express concern without anger attend.
If your loved one is using DMT, they may benefit from a number of treatment alternatives.
While DMT is not typically associated with withdrawal symptoms 8, treatment may begin with a detox program or a period of inpatient hospitalization if the patient is experiencing intensely negative psychiatric symptoms, such as those associated with a “bad trip” or hallucinogen persisting perception disorder. Here, a skilled clinician can provide a calm atmosphere to relax the person until the effects diminish 1,8.
Individuals struggling with addiction to DMT may wish to partake in an inpatient rehabilitation program. In an inpatient environment, recovering individuals can learn the skills they need to sustain abstinence in a safe and less triggering environment. These programs are great for those whose use is particularly problematic, are struggling with polysubstance use, or have dual diagnosis disorders.
Others may be able to maintain treatment on an outpatient basis, meaning that they will be able to live at home while attending treatment. Outpatient treatment options include 1,8,9:
- Individual therapy. This will help the individual to change thoughts, beliefs, and patterns that contribute to their DMT use and develop new skills to promote sobriety.
- Group counseling. This will help to foster recovery skills while allowing the individual to witness the recovery of others and build a network of support.
- Education. The individual will learn about substance abuse and techniques to prevent relapse.
- Family therapy. Including family in the recovery process is a great way to increase the chances of sustained sobriety.
Is it Addictive?
DMT provides short-acting, intense hallucinogenic effects that begin immediately and last for 30 to 45 minutes 2. Effects include 1,2:
- Visual hallucinations.
- Feeling dissociated from the body.
- Distorted hearing.
- Distorted perception of time.
- Distorted view of the body.
- Increased heart rate.
- Increased agitation.
Though the substance can trigger a range of effects, there is no evidence that DMT can produce physical dependence. Additionally, unlike some other classic hallucinogens, there is no conclusive evidence that it is associated with tolerance (i.e., the need to consume more of the drug to produce the same wanted effects).
Psychological addiction is a concern, however, as some users will continually seek out and use this substance despite mounting negative repercussions 1.
What Are the Signs of DMT Addiction?
Addiction is the continued use of a substance even when unwanted or dangerous outcomes are likely. Someone abusing DMT may 5:
Am I Addicted to DMT?
Consider these questions to assess whether you need help for DMT addiction:
- Have I changed my lifestyle to use DMT?
- Do I use it to avoid or escape from reality due to depression, anxiety, or another mental illness?
- Do the drawbacks of its use outweigh the perceived benefits?
- Has my use created conflict in my relationships?
- Do I find it difficult or impossible to stop?
Answering “yes” to these questions may indicate that the DMT use in your life is problematic.
- Put more emphasis on use than other priorities like friends, work, and school.
- Make unsuccessful attempts to stop or control use.
- Use the substance more frequently or at higher doses than intended.
- Seem more secretive or increasingly isolated.
- Lie more regularly with regard to their location or actions.
- Have increased financial hardships due to spending money on the substance.
Someone that is currently intoxicated by DMT may act erratically and express odd beliefs. They may also 1,2:
- Have dilated pupils.
- Lack motor coordination.
- Exhibit involuntary eye movements.
- Have sudden mood changes.
- React to situations with strong anger.
- Appear disconnected from reality or unable to recall information.
- See things that are not there.
Rates of use for DMT are low relative to other substances, but they have increased in the last several years. From 2006 to 2014, rates of both lifetime use and use within the last year of the survey have tripled. During the same timeframe, rates of people that reported use in the last month have quadrupled 4.
Call Our Hotline Today
If you have determined DMT use presents a negative influence in your life or the life a loved one, it is never too early or too late to take action. Consider calling 1-888-744-0069Who Answers? to find treatment options that can end the impact of this powerful substance.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Drug Facts: Hallucinogens.
- Drug Enforcement Administration. (2013). N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT).
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Behavioral Health Services and Treatment.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Substance Use Disorders.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). What to Do If Your Adult Friend or Loved One Has a Problem with Drugs.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015). Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse.
- Scruggs, S.M., Meyer, R, Kayo, R. (2014). Community Reinforcement and Family Training Support and Prevention.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Drug Facts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.