DMT Effects, Risks & Rehab Treatment
N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a naturally occurring indole alkaloid capable of eliciting powerful visual hallucinations when high doses are ingested. DMT is a Schedule I controlled substance in the United States and is often used recreationally used for its short-term psychedelic effects.1,2,3
From 2007–2014, data showed a liner increase in the prevalence of recreational use of DMT and other tryptamine compounds, more than tripling in that time frame.5 At that time, more than 1% of males in the United States were estimated to be current users of DMT or other tryptamines, with speculation that the popular use of such drugs was likely to continue growing.5
DMT, like other hallucinogen drugs, holds the potential for problematic misuse and related health risks. This page will explore what DMT is, DMT drug effects, and whether DMT is addictive.
American Addiction Centers offers dynamic substance abuse treatment for people struggling with hallucinogen misuse, as well as the misuse of other drugs. Call
What is DMT?
DMT is a hallucinogenic substance found naturally in some plants and at varying levels in the human body.2 Though plant-derived DMT can be used for its hallucinogenic properties, a fully synthetic form of the drug can be illicitly manufactured in a lab, and is most often encountered a whitish crystalline powder.3
DMT is widely known for the brief and intense psychedelic effects it produces when people consume it.1 When used recreationally, people typically smoke or orally consume the substance. However, there are also reports of it being injected intramuscularly or intravenously.2,4 Ayahuasca is a traditional tea brewed from DMT-containing plants that provides a common route of DMT consumption.3
DMT is very fast acting, and capable of producing relatively intense but short-lived psychedelic experiences in comparison to many other hallucinogens.3 These properties tend to make it particularly attractive to people who want a hallucinogenic experience but do not wish to have the prolonged experience that LSD and some other hallucinogens produce.3
Among all substances, DMT and other tryptamine use remains relatively rare.3 However, people who use DMT and other tryptamines seldom limit their drug use to just these substances. Studies showed that only 0.04% of people using DMT and other tryptamine compounds have not used other drugs in their lifetime.4 In other words, most people who use DMT and other tryptamine compounds have used other substances at some point in their lives.
When consumed by smoking or injection, people often feel the effects of DMT effects quite quickly – anywhere from a few seconds to minutes.2 Effects tend to only last 15 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the amount of DMT someone consumes and the method in which they consume it.2
Hallucinations associated with DMT use often consist of extremely altered environments and distortions of body and space.6 Ayahuasca is known for producing altered states of awareness and a sense of heavenly or otherworldly images.6
By nature, hallucinations are difficult to predict, and individuals may engage in extreme or potentially dangerous activities while under the influence of any hallucinogen, including DMT.3
It’s also important to note that long-term, repeated use of hallucinogens may be associated with the development of a hallucinogen use disorder, a type of substance use disorder.2
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The addiction liability of a drug like DMT continues to be the source of some debate. At this point, it is unknown whether DMT is associated with compulsive misuse or otherwise addictive.3 This includes use of DMT as ayahuasca.3 Unlike LSD, DMT doesn’t appear to be associated with significant tolerance with repeated use. Like several other classic hallucinogens, however, DMT does not appear to lead to physical dependence or withdrawal syndrome. Further studies are required to draw any conclusions on the misuse or addiction potential of DMT alone.3
Though a picture of addiction might not be as clear cut as it is with certain other substances such as alcohol, opioids, and stimulants, the problematic use of any hallucinogen substance could potentially result in substance use disorder development. Also, because people who use DMT are highly likely to engage in polysubstance use, it is possible to develop an addiction to other substances that may be used alongside of DMT.5
Long-term Effects & Dangers of DMT
There are no established long-term effects of DMT use alone, but other classic hallucinogens are in rare instances associated with both a persistent psychosis and a condition known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD).6 Persistent psychosis may include visual disturbances, disorganized thoughts, paranoid thoughts and behaviors, and mood disturbances.6 HPPD consists of hallucinations or visual disturbances that continue long past the expected influence of the hallucinogen taken.6
Though rare, life-threatening effects, such as seizures and coma, have been associated with DMT use, which increases with increasing doses.4 It’s critical to note that someone’s actions while hallucinating are never predictable, and they may engage in any number of dangerous activities while under the influence of DMT.3 While it does require further studies to establish definitive long-term risks, DMT is not known to be completely safe either.
DMT Treatment, Detox, & Rehab
DMT is often utilized by people who engage in polysubstance use. People who use DMT may need substance use disorder treatment, especially if they engage in polysubstance use. If you or a loved one are seeking help for a substance use disorder, there are many treatment options to consider.
Treatment for substance use disorder typically begins with detox. Many treatment centers offer medically assisted detox, which provides aid by minimizing withdrawal symptoms and ensuring safety throughout the process.
After detox, a person may engage in an inpatient, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, or traditional outpatient treatment program. These programs offer various levels of treatment depending on your needs. They use a variety of individual and group therapies to build coping skills and overcome the psychological factors that contribute to addiction. Though there are no medications specifically approved for managing hallucinogen-related substance use disorders, for some other substances, medications are also available to combat cravings and help maintain sobriety.
Many people who struggle with polysubstance use require individualized treatment plans specific to their substance use and history. Regardless of your needs, many insurance plans cover at least a portion of substance use disorder treatment if you are diagnosed by a professional.
As with other chronic diseases, substance use disorders sometimes require diligent recovery efforts and, in some cases, lifelong management.7 Through treatment, many people are able to gain control over their substance use disorder so that it no longer hinders their livelihood. Relapse is a common experience along the path to recovery, but with continued treatment, people are often able to resume their lives.7
- Barker, S.A. (2018, August). N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), an endogenous hallucinogen: past, present, and future research to determine its role and function. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 12, 536.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, April 22). Hallucinogens DrugFacts.
- S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2019, December). N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT).
- Palamar, J.J., & Le, A. (2019, October 1). Trends in DMT and other tryptamine use among young adults in the United States. American Journal on Addictions. 27(7), 578-585.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020, June 2). How do hallucinogens (LSD, psilocybin, peyote, DMT, and ayahuasca) affect the brain and body?
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th edition).
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020, June 3). How effective is drug addiction treatment?