A Comprehensive Guide to DMT Abuse and Addiction

Drug addiction and abuse are increasingly concerning problems in the United States. Typically, individuals abuse drugs such as opioids, benzodiazepines, stimulants, and other forms of prescription medications and illicit substances. However, the abuse and addiction to hallucinogens have begun to rise in popularity.

DMT, or N, N-Dimethyltryptamine, is a powerful and illegal hallucinogenic drug. While there is an open debate on whether or not DMT is addictive, this drug poses dangerous physical and psychological effects for frequent users. Additionally, individuals who frequently abuse DMT often develop a dependence on the drug, proving the dangers of DMT abuse.

What is DMT (N, N-Dimethyltryptamine)?

DMT is an abbreviation for N, N-Dimethyltryptamine. This chemical naturally occurs in the brain, as well as in plants indigenous to Central and South America. DMT causes a surge in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for producing natural feelings of happiness. When abused, DMT causes intense euphoria, hallucinations, and new perceptions of reality which people often characterize as “life-changing”.

Typically, DMT is found in the form of white powder, however, some people have reported a wide range of colors associated with DMT powder. To experience the effects of DMT, individuals must smoke it in a pipe or brew a tea known as Ayahuasca or yage. While this is less common, some individuals may inject DMT. Often referred to as “fantasia” or “dimitri,” this drug is one of the least popularly consumed substances in America. Most individuals who abuse DMT have already tried other forms of psychedelics.

Federal Laws Concerning DMT

Since 1971, DMT has been classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. According to the United States government, DMT has no medicinal purpose or value. As a result, punishment for the possession, manufacturing, and sales of DMT result in heavy fines and decades in prison.

DMT is used as part of a spiritual ritual for many indigenous South American religions. In 2006, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government cannot prevent practitioners of certain religions who consider DMT as sacred and vital to their traditions. In other words, DMT is included in the right to religious freedom and expression (for individuals belonging to specific religions). It is important to note that DMT abuse is not safe or legal for individuals who are not included in this religious protection.

The Effects and Risks of DMT Abuse

DMT produces a high referred to as a psychedelic trip. When smoked, a DMT trip usually begins instantly and lasts less than an hour. However, when drunk in the form of Ayahuasca tea, hallucinations begin after about 30 minutes and may last from 4-6 hours. Some users report experiencing mild, lingering hallucinogenic effects for several days after consuming or smoking DMT. On a physiological level, DMT causes an array of adverse side effects.

Common side effects of DMT abuse include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Heightened body temperature
  • Increased heart rate and hypertension
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain and tightness in the chest

While many users may promote the “benefits” of DMT, this substance is not safe. To explain, DMT may substantially harm an individual’s physical and mental wellbeing. Because DMT produces high amounts of serotonin, individuals who abuse this drug may experience a serotonin overdose. This condition is known to provoke seizures, obstruct breathing, and lead to comas. In other words, DMT users can experience great physical and mental suffering, and in some cases, die from the effects.

Some individuals who use DMT may experience positive psychological experiences, such as feeling “awakened” and even feeling as if they’ve had a spiritual experience. However, others have suffered from confusing and terrifying DMT trips that have lasting psychological effects. For example,  the psychological effects of DMT abuse may lead to traumatizing experiences, especially for individuals who struggle with mental illness, such as schizophrenia.

DMT Dependence and Addiction

Unlike other hallucinogenic drugs such as angel dust, there is little evidence supporting that DMT abuse causes tolerance or symptoms of withdrawal. Because of this, DMT is not considered to be addictive in the physical sense. Even further, there is no evidence that this substance significantly damages or alters an individual’s brain chemistry after long-term use.

DMT does cause psychological dependence when a person repeatedly abuses it to escape reality. Some DMT users consider the drug to be a form of therapy and take it regularly to feel better. Unfortunately, this abuse has damaged the overall view of the drug and caused some hardships for religions that use this substance during traditional rituals. Additionally, when individuals abuse DMT in this way, they may begin to feel as if they cannot stop using DMT and other hallucinogens.

The limited research conducted on this substance suggests that some DMT users develop cravings for the drug and experience psychological distress when they cannot use it. Individuals who abuse DMT are more likely to experience adverse health effects.

Behaviors that indicate DMT dependence may include:

  • Taking higher and more frequent doses
  • Gathering supplies to make DMT
  • Spending more money on DMT
  • Continuing to use DMT despite facing psychological consequences

Treatment for DMT Abuse

If you or someone you know is currently struggling with DMT dependence, it may be time to attend professional addiction treatment. While DMT does not cause addiction, it poses serious psychological effects for individuals who frequently abuse this substance. Contact CWC Recovery today for more information on DMT abuse and treatment.

Medically Reviewed: November 3, 2020

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer | CWC Recovery Staff

Clinical Team

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All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Content on this page has been reviewed by CWC Medical Staff for accuracy.


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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