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 DMT is a drug that contains hallucinogenic tryptamine components. Present in plants and animals, the chemical is often called as the spirit molecule. The drug provides an intense psychedelic or hallucinogenic effect.

The drug produces short-term but intense visual and auditory mind-altering experience. This makes DMT as an illegal substance. The government considered the drug as an illegal substance to be produced and sold in the market. The drug contains properties for potential abuse with no specific medical use. Also, the government does not provide any safety parameters on its use. Even though the United States branded the drug as illegal, religious groups still use it in some of their religious ceremonies. They believed that the drug can help with the spiritual ‘awakening.’

History of the drug

The use of DMT is often related to religious practices and rituals. These practices trace back hundreds of years in ancient civilizations. DMT serves as the main active ingredient in ayahuasca, a traditional South American brewed drink. Widely used for its psychoactive and hallucinogenic effect, the drug acts as a triggering factor to obtain ‘spiritual insight’ for most religious ceremonies.

Quick Facts about the Drug

  • According to the Global Survey carried out in 2016, 2.24% of people used DMT within the last 12 months.
  • DMT along with the drugs kratom and modafinil ranks as the least used drugs.
  • In a study conducted in 2014, 0.23% of people ages 12 years old and above reported to use DMT for recreational purposes for the previous year. The number increased since 2006 with an average of 19% per year.

Signs and symptoms of the drug

The most prominent indication of DMT abuse includes:

  • Using the drug on a regular basis which can lead the users to neglect their personal and professional commitments
  • Financial problems mainly because of consistent expenditure to obtain DMT
  • Losing or feeling out of touch with the real world
  • Mixing DMT with other drugs
  • Lying to family and friends about substance abuse
  • Secretive behavior regarding the use of DMT
  • Taking more of the drug
  • Losing interest in habits and activities previously enjoyed
  • Continuing to use the drug despite its negative effects

Side Effects of the Drug

DMT mainly affects the psychological well-being of the users. Most users describe extreme, life-changing experiences like talking with alien entities called as ‘DMT elves’ or ‘machine elves’. Users also reported to visit worlds, the experience can also alter their perception of identity and reality. When smoked, the drug produces short-lived but intense visual and auditory hallucinations. Users described their experience as otherworldly, an alternate reality and even near death experience.

In comparisons to other psychedelic drugs like ketamine and LSD, DMT provides the lowest side effect amongst this type of drugs. Other known side effects of the drug include, but may not be limited to the following:

  • intense visual and auditory hallucinations
  • euphoria
  • altered sense of space, body, and time
  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • chest pain or tightness
  • agitation
  • dilated pupils
  • rapid rhythmic movements of the eye
  • dizziness
  • auditory distortions
  • involuntary rapid eye movements
  • incoordination
  • seizures

However, when taken orally, DMT can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Depending on the individual user, the experience can range from intensely exciting to overwhelmingly frightening. The experience can be so powerful that users may have difficulty processing and integrate the “trip” into their real life. The psychological side effects may linger for several days or weeks after ingestion of the drug.

DMT contains properties related to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Because of the similarity, it generates a condition called serotonin syndrome. There is a lethal health risk associated with its use. Individuals taking antidepressants are at highest risk for this complication.

Serotonin syndrome occurs when the body stores up an excessive amount of serotonin in its system. The condition is often caused by taking a combination of different drugs. Too much serotonin in the body can lead to symptoms such as agitation, confusion, high blood pressure, loss of muscle coordination, and headache. If taken in higher doses, it can cause seizures, respiratory arrest, and coma. In short,

DMT could have serious adverse consequences for users with pre-existing psychological problems or a mental illness such as schizophrenia.

What makes the drug addictive?

Due to limited research data, it is not known what caused DMT addiction. Although frequent recreational users may develop psychological cravings for the drug.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggest that, unlike other hallucinogens, DMT use does not seem to induce tolerance of the drug.

Even though experts do not consider DMT as an addictive substance it inflicts several health risks. DMT can also produce terrifying hallucinations and can lead to psychological dependency.

If you’re planning to enter a DMT rehab or receive some sort of recovery help, you’re probably considering both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. Both approaches have pros and cons, each to be carefully weighed by each person considering addiction treatment.

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