DMT, dimethyltryptamine, is not a new drug, although it does seem to be gaining popularity due to the Internet. The Journal of Psychopharmacology published a global study profiling people, a large number of which abused drugs, between November and December 2012, and 8.9 percent reported they had tried DMT at least once in their lifetime. Additionally, DMT had the highest prevalence of new users of hallucinogenic drugs, at 24 percent of those surveyed, indicating a potential rise in the drug’s popularity.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports that DMT may be synthesized in illicit laboratories, and online sales and distribution are likely the primary sources of supply in America. DMT is also found in plants and has long been included in South American traditional and religious rituals where it may be brewed into a tea called Ayahuasca, which also contains a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) to slow the metabolism of DMT and create more psychoactive effects.
How DMT is Commonly used
DMT is commonly smoked, snorted, and injected. DMT is thought to potentially be produced naturally in small amounts by the human brain in developing fetuses, during deep R.E.M. sleep, and right before death, earning it the nickname of the “spirit molecule,” although research has yet to positively confirm this. DMT is a hallucinogenic drug, sometimes called “fantasia” or “the business man’s trip,” which produces visual and auditory hallucinations as well as a distorted view of reality, much in the same way that LSD or “magic” mushrooms do.
People may abuse DMT for recreational purposes to get “high” or because they want a potential enlightenment or spiritual insight. The drug is generally fast-acting, taking effect in seconds and wearing off rather quickly too – in as little time as an hour. The Global Information Network About Drugs (GINAD) reports that DMT is one of the most powerful hallucinogens in the world. It is highly illegal and classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in most countries. Trafficking it in the United States may even carry a life sentence for first-time offenders.
Potential Side Effects of DMT Abuse
Hallucinogens change the way users see, feel, and think while the drug is active, and this experience is usually called a “trip.” These trips may be either good or bad. DMT is thought to act on serotonin receptors and may have euphoric effects as well as produce a potential “out-of-body” type experience that may be spiritual in nature. DMT “trips” are highly individual, as they are believed to originate from within a person’s subconscious. Sense of time, perception of colors, sounds, and other sensory, auditory, and visual stimuli may be altered while taking the drug.
Heart rate and blood pressure may be raised and a user’s pupils will dilate on DMT. Seizures, loss of muscle control or coordination, involuntary eye movement, and respiratory arrest or coma may occur on DMT also. Sometimes, users will get violently ill and vomit during a “bad trip” as well as become extremely agitated, anxious, paranoid, and possibly even aggressive or violent. DMT abusers on a “bad trip” may be suicidal or attempt to inflict harm upon themselves.
Hallucinogens may also produce “flashbacks” days, months or even years after the drug has left the body, which can be sudden and may induce hallucinations at inopportune times. DMT, and other hallucinogenic drugs, are highly unpredictable, and users may never know the exact potency of the drug or what their experience will be like ahead of time. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) postulates that half of the people who abuse drugs may also suffer from a mental illness, which may pose unique complications for someone abusing hallucinogens.
Underlying mental health problems may be exacerbated by DMT abuse as anxiety, paranoia, panic, and depression may be amplified. Once a “trip” starts, it can’t be undone until the drug is completely metabolized as well. Additionally, mixing DMT with other drugs or substances such as alcohol can create an adverse and unintended negative reaction.
Getting Help for DMT Abuse and Addiction
While DMT and hallucinogens are not generally considered to be physically addictive, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that in 2013 approximately 280,000 Americans battled a hallucinogen use disorder. Using DMT repetitively over time can, however, create a physical tolerance that will require users to take more of the drug to continue to feel its effects. DMT addiction is largely psychological in nature and may be characterized or recognized by the following:
- Drug-seeking behavior that is compulsive in nature
- Continued desire to use the drug even though it may be harmful
- Social isolation and withdrawal
- Lack of interest in social or recreational activities that may have been important before
- Irrational behavior and mood swings
- Feeling that the drug is needed to cope with life
- Drug cravings
DMT rarely causes a physical dependence and therefore will likely not require medical interventions, pharmaceutical methods, or a medical detox program to recover from its effects. DMT is metabolized quickly and is not known to produce any withdrawal side effects as it is removed from the bloodstream. An emotional dependence on DMT may require specialized treatment in a drug abuse treatment program.
New and improved methods of self-control can be taught during group therapy sessions. Individual and group evidence-based therapy sessions may utilize therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, which seeks to determine the events, circumstances, or psychological causes of addiction while helping to find new and healthier ways to manage potential stressors or life triggers. Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, is a form of CBT that teaches the concept of mindfulness and self-awareness to improve impulse control and other possible behavioral issues.
There is no one cause or singular predictor or risk factor for addiction; rather, there may be several contributors. Peer pressure, boredom, or the desire to escape reality may all lead to someone initiating drug abuse, and genetics, physiological and environmental factors may perpetuate the abuse and lead to a dependence on drugs for that person to continue to feel “normal.” Drug treatment facilities can help to positively reorganize thoughts and behaviors so patients can find a new normal. Mental health issues or disorders can be treated in tandem with substance abuse disorders through dual diagnosis treatment methods, which use integrated treatment models to manage both mental illness and addiction simultaneously.
Futures of Palm Beach employs highly trained medical and mental health professionals who work together to provide the highest level of care required for each individual. Differing levels of care are provided, depending on each person’s individual requirements. Recreational opportunities and amenities, including yoga, acupuncture, and massage therapy as well as nutritional meal and diet plans, are provided to promote whole-body healing during recovery from drug addiction, mental illness, or co-occurring disorders. Occupying the mind with new and healthy hobbies, such as creative outlets like writing, sculpting, or painting, or recreational ones, such as walking, playing sports, or social activities can aid the recovery process.
Family counseling, as well as support groups, are also encouraged during addiction treatment and recovery. Contact an admissions counselor at Futures of Palm Beach for more information today.