DMT Detox Guide: Symptoms, Timeline, and Effects
DMT is the acronym commonly used for N-Dimethyltryptamine, a drug that can be either extracted from a plant or produced synthetically. It is classified as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), with no recognized medical use in the United States. DMT is a type of hallucinogen, similar to LSD or peyote, used to produce auditory or visual hallucinations, often altering a person’s sense of time and place. Whether smoked, snorted, injected, or taken orally in a brew, such as Ayahuasca, DMT tends to be short-acting, which makes it appealing to users who do not want a long experience, or “trip,” like LSD or peyote can produce 1.
Hallucinogens, such as DMT, are not considered to be classically addictive in the way that drugs like opioids or cocaine are, but chronic use can still lead to a problematic pattern of use and negatively interfere with life functioning.
DMT use increased in popularity in the 1960s and was made illegal in 1971, but many people continue to use it for recreational or religious purposes. Below are some statistics regarding DMT use and production 1,3,4:
- In 2012, out of 22,289 surveyed people across the world, nearly 9% of respondents had ever used DMT.
- Compared to other hallucinogens, DMT had 24% more new users in 2012.
- Approximately 1.3 million people aged 12 or older reported past-month hallucinogen use in 2013.
- In 2015, there were 586 reports concerning DMT production in United States laboratories.
Immediate Effects of DMT Use
DMT is typically abused for its intense but short-lived psychoactive effects, which can include:1,2,8
- Hallucinations, which involve seeing, hearing, or feeling things that don’t exist or experiencing things in a distorted way. These hallucinations may be quite intense.
- Depersonalization, or feeling detached from oneself.
- Intensified feelings and sensory experiences, which include more intense emotions, brighter colors, and louder sounds.
- An altered sense of time or other perception problems.
- Body and spatial distortions.
Although users may think that DMT is less dangerous than LSD or other hallucinogens because the effects don’t typically last as long, this is not always the case.8 DMT use is associated with a number of negative short-term effects, such as:1,2,8
- Impaired judgment.
- Anxiety or depression.
- Blurred vision.
- Increased heart rate.
- Excessive sweating.
- Heart palpitations.
- Coordination problems.
- Respiratory arrest.
For some drugs, such as opioids, the physical withdrawal symptoms may be profound, causing extreme pain, sweating, and vomiting. However, with DMT and other classic hallucinogens, there is no associated physical dependence—any perceived withdrawal will be entirely psychological in nature. Chronic DMT users who suddenly stop using the hallucinogen may experience strong cravings for DMT. Additionally, a long-term DMT user has the potential to develop flashbacks or Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD), in which the person re-experiences hallucinations and other psychoactive effects of a DMT trip 2,6.
Nonetheless, even without physical withdrawal symptoms, it can be difficult for many people to undergo the DMT detox process and adjust to living a drug-free lifestyle.
How Long Does DMT Detox Last?
DMT may cause unpleasant side effects, such as disturbing auditory and visual hallucinations, agitation, and increased heart rate 7. However, it does not usually cause physical side effects when a person stops using DMT. That being said, quitting DMT doesn’t affect everyone the same. The severity and length of DMT withdrawal can vary tremendously from person to person, and depends on many factors, including:
- The presence of a co-occurring addiction to other substances.
- Overall physical health.
- The presence of underlying psychological disorders.
What is Detox?
Detoxification is a process that aims to manage acute DMT intoxication and clear the body of DMT and any other substances. Although DMT will not likely result in symptoms of physical withdrawal, a supportive environment in a detox program can provide a person with the necessary care to cope with the negative effects of intoxication or a bad trip 5. There is no FDA-approved medication for the specific treatment of DMT withdrawal, but a low dose of a benzodiazepine, which is a sedative, may be administered to control agitation or anxiety 5. Antidepressants can be provided as well for those experiencing depressive symptoms 5.
Yet as important as it may be, detox is only the beginning of treatment for DMT addiction, or any type of drug addiction. Detox, although beneficial for those acutely intoxicated or experiencing withdrawal, does not address the underlying issues related to DMT abuse. After detox, a formal rehabilitation program can provide people with comprehensive addiction treatment to promote long-term sobriety. While every recovery program is different, most programs offer a combination of individual therapy, group counseling, family therapy, and aftercare planning.
There are many DMT addiction treatment programs available, and each one has its strengths and weaknesses. It is important to do your research when searching for the right substance abuse treatment program.
Do I Need Professional Treatment?
There are several signs and symptoms of addiction. It is possible that you need a detox program if you meet at least two symptoms of hallucinogen use disorder. Some of the signs of DMT addiction include 2:
- A craving to continue using DMT.
- Using DMT despite negative physical or mental health consequences.
- Spending a great deal of time obtaining and using DMT.
- Failing to fulfill obligations at home, school, or work due to DMT use.
- Using DMT in greater amounts than originally intended.
- Spending large amounts of time obtaining DMT, taking DMT, or recovering from DMT use.
- Giving up important social, education, or occupational activities to use DMT.
- Using DMT despite interpersonal or social ramifications.
- Using DMT in dangerous situations, such as while driving.
- Failing to stop using DMT when trying to cut back or stop using.
Although DMT detox is not necessary to ensure safety while quitting using the hallucinogen, a formal drug detox program can provide you with a comfortable, quiet, and supportive environment free of triggers or stressors.
Hazards of Continued Use
The long-term effects of DMT use, as well as the addiction and dependence potential, are currently unknown. Unlike many other hallucinogens, such as LSD and peyote, repeated DMT use doesn’t appear to lead to any significant tolerance to its effects. Tolerance occurs when a user needs to take higher doses of a drug in order to experience the desired effects or “trip.”8 That being said, repeatedly using DMT over an extended period of time can put the user at an increased risk of experiencing the following complications or consequences:2
- Suicidal ideation, although completed suicides are rare.
- Risk of injuries or deaths from car crashes, fights, or unintentional self-harm.
- Increased risk of demonstrating erratic or volatile behaviors due to hallucinations or depersonalization.
- Interpersonal problems, such as divorce or loss of friends.
- Financial problems.
- Legal issues, due to driving under the influence or assault.
- Significant interference with work or school production.
Continuing to abuse DMT can increase the risk of adverse consequences to your physical and mental health. It’s never too late to seek treatment for DMT abuse or addiction. Finding DMT detox and addiction treatment can help minimize the potential for long-term effects.
Choosing a Withdrawal Treatment Program
Drug detox can be completed on either an inpatient or outpatient basis, but there are numerous additional factors to consider when determining which withdrawal treatment program is right for you. Outpatient detoxification can occur in a physician’s office or at an outpatient treatment center that you attend each day. This option has the advantage of allowing you to continue living at home and fulfilling daily obligations while quitting DMT.
However, since social detox, which occurs in an inpatient setting and consists of around-the-clock supervision and care without the administration of medication, is often used for DMT, outpatient detox may not be ideal 5. A non-stimulating, inpatient environment for DMT detox can help to effectively manage the complications related to acute intoxication and flashbacks 5. Typically the staff members of social detoxification centers have experience in “talking down” patients who are experiencing bad or scary trips 5.
Whether the initial period of detoxification occurs in an inpatient or outpatient setting, many individuals follow-up detox care with ongoing DMT addiction treatment to further facilitate their recovery. Short-term intervention, such as detox, is only the first step on the continuum of care.
The completion of a drug treatment program provides the necessary foundation for recovery from drug abuse. Addiction treatment addresses the reasons that an addiction to DMT or other drugs began in the first place. For example, if a person uses a drug to cope with grief or depression, merely stopping the use of the drug during detox will not help a person learn to cope with that grief or depression. Consequently, as a person faces the negative emotion or symptoms of a mental health disorder again without having learned coping skills, they may return to drug use to self-medicate. Drug abuse treatment helps addicted individuals to rectify maladaptive behaviors and replace them with healthier behaviors.
There are many types of substance abuse treatment, two of the most common being inpatient and outpatient recovery programs.
For some people, inpatient treatment is the best option for DMT addiction. Inpatient or residential rehab isn’t right for everyone; however, for people with underlying health conditions, co-occurring mental health disorders, or polydrug addictions, inpatient may be the most effective option to keep that person as safe as possible and help ensure a successful recovery.
An inpatient treatment program requires that the patient lives at the recovery center for the duration of the program. Programs typically last anywhere from 28 to 90 days, depending on the patient’s needs. One benefit of residential programs is that the treatment team provides the individual with 24/7 medical and psychological care while they are recovering from a DMT addiction. The residential environment allows the patient to separate themselves from their using environment so that they can focus solely on their recovery from DMT abuse. Although every inpatient program has a different philosophy and outlook, most residential rehabs offer a combination of group counseling, individual therapy, family counseling, relapse prevention classes, support groups, and aftercare planning.
The cost of inpatient treatment can vary tremendously. Some of the factors that influence price include, duration of the program, amenities offered, location, and insurance policy. Treatment programs that have private rooms and a spa-like atmosphere, such as luxury recovery programs, can cost a lot more than a basic program with shared rooms. Insurance will often cover inpatient treatment, but for those treatment programs that offer more luxurious amenities, insurance will likely not cover all of the costs.
Outpatient Recovery Programs
If inpatient treatment doesn’t seem like the right fit for you, outpatient treatment programs are another option. While some enter outpatient treatment as the main form of substance abuse treatment, others may utilize outpatient as a step-down treatment after having completed an inpatient recovery program. This transition to step-down care can help ease their reentry into life after DMT addiction.
The intensity and frequency of outpatient treatment vary. Some programs meet once or twice per week for a few hours at a time, while others may meet more often, providing treatment for 2-3 hours per day, 3-4 days per week. Some of these programs have physician oversight, but some do not. The most intensive form of outpatient treatment is partial hospitalization, which typically meets 5 days per week for 4-6 hours each day.
It is not possible to determine which of these programs is best for you without a formal assessment by substance abuse professionals who can consider the numerous factors that determine the appropriate level of care.