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DMT Abuse and Addiction: The Dangers of the Exotic “Spirit Molecule”

DMT, also known as Dimethyltryptamine, is a powerful drug belonging to a class of substances known as hallucinogens.

Abusing this potent chemical can cause a short-lived but incredibly intense sensory experience that can be euphoric for some, and terrifying for others.

What's more, DMT abuse and addiction can cause a host of other seriously hazardous problems as well and should generally be avoided entirely.

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DMT Drug Street Names

Street names are slang terms used to refer to illicit substances which not only help keep conversations about them seemingly innocuous, they also can be just a way to refer to such drugs in shorthand. 

And with multi-syllabic drugs like Dimethyltryptamine, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that there are a number of nicknames out there that are significantly easier to pronounce. 

Here are just a few street names for DMT to be aware of: 

  • 45-minute Psychosis
  • businessman’s LSD
  • businessman’s Trip
  • AMT
  • Businessman’s Special
  • DET
  • Fantasia 

Besides the street names for DMT, Dimethyltryptamine also goes by a number of different names in the medical community as well including: 

  • N,N-dimethyltryptamine
  • Desoxybufotenine
  • 3-(2-dimethylaminoethyl)-indole
  • Nigerine 

And while it’s highly unlikely that you’ll run into someone offering you Desoxybufotenine at a party, you can never be too sure.

A Brief History of DMT

DMT, like other hallucinogens, has a long history of use in ancient cultures around the world. In fact, some sources trace its lineage all the way back to an eighth century burial site discovered in northern Chile. 

Natives of Columbia and the surrounding areas created a variety of DMT-containing drinks throughout the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries in order to produce intoxicating and powerful psychoactive experiences as well. 

One of the most commonly known drinks containing DMT is called ayahuasca. Natives painstakingly crafted this brew by combining chacruna (a native plant that contains the DMT) and yag (an herb that contains harmaline which allows the DMT to be absorbed by the body).

These drinks were typically used in sacred rituals that allowed the peoples to interact with what they believed was the spirit world and achieve a heightened state of reality. 

While Dimethyltryptamine use has been isolated for the large part of its history to these native tribes, the drug has experienced a significant rise in popularity due to modern documentaries and books written on this powerful psychoactive substance. 

DMT Addiction

A Deeper Look At N,N-Dimethyltryptamine

DMT, currently a Schedule I drug in the United States, typically comes in the form of a white powder. When extracted naturally, it’s most often taken orally as an herbal tea. When in its synthetic form, it can be snorted, smoked, or injected.

By its very nature, Dimethyltryptamine is a relatively fragile molecule and tends to break down quite quickly. In fact, when the drug is smoked or injected it can start producing hallucinogenic effects in less than 5 minutes

What’s more, the high will generally only last about an hour, a characteristic that earned DMT the nickname “businessman’s trip” (for people who don’t want to spend multiple hours feeling its effects). 

Dimethyltryptamine is also naturally inactivated by an enzyme in the stomach called monoamine oxidase. As such, taking DMT orally requires the addition of a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (also known as an MAOI). 

In ayahuasca, one of the earliest known DMT teas, the harmaline is a natural MAOI and thus helps the body absorb the Dimethyltryptamine.

A Recent Surge in DMT Counterculture

Dimethyltryptamine has experienced a significant rise in popularity lately. In fact, the number of U.S. citizens that have used DMT has grown year over year since 2006. In 2012 alone over 1 million people reported using this potent hallucinogen. 

Part of this surge in Dimethyltryptamine use can be linked back to the publishing of Rick Strassman’s 2002 book on the compound, DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor’s Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences

This book was one of the first to capture the public’s attention about what this foreign substance was and actually became so popular that it was later turned into a documentary in 2010 by filmmaker Mitch Schultz. This film, which even featured appearances by Joe Rogan, was viewed by millions. 

As more people became aware of DMT and were willing to try it, especially within the party scene, Dimethyltryptamine gained a bit of cult following and its abuse spread even further.

DMT for Addiction Treatment

Proponents for the use of DMT often point to the fact that the chemical is actually naturally occurring in the human body, most notably during times of high stress and right before death.

As this drug becomes more and more common in the modern world, independent scientists are also finding that Dimethyltryptamine may actually be helpful in treating substance addictions as well. 

In fact, a number of treatment facilities have opened specifically to treat substance addictions with this powerfully psychoactive substance, claiming that DMT cures addiction.

This isn’t the first time a hallucinogen has been used to combat substance use disorders. Ibogaine, for example, has also recently been used to treat heroin withdrawal at certain designated facilities. 

But as with ibogaine, using DMT to treat substance use disorders can actually be quite dangerous when not performed in a controlled setting. Spikes in blood pressure, vomiting, and coma are all possible at certain doses of this drug. 

And while there may in fact be some benefits associated with its use, far more study still needs to be done before it, and other psychedelics, can be safely used in clinical treatment.

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What Is a DMT Drug Trip Like?

Like many other hallucinogenic experiences, a dimethyltryptamine trip is not going to be the same for everyone. 

For some it could mean an intensely euphoric experience. For others, it can be downright hellish. It depends on the interplay of factors like dosage, method of ingestion, environment, attitude, and more. 

As Mitch Schultz, director of the hit documentary DMT: The Spirit Molecule, said as he described a positive DMT experience in an interview with Huffington Post:

People have a sense of motion a lot of times, moving through a portal, having information coming by or through them very quickly. A lot of fractals and geometric patterns, entities that can be described from aliens to angels, and also just huge cathartic releases of emotions and things that have been buried for years.

But also like other hallucinogenic experiences, abusing DMT can carry with it the possibility of a bad trip as well. Many experienced users point to using too much at once or going into the high with a bad attitude as the main causes for such an experience. 

Here’s one account of such a trip from the online drug forum, BlueLight: 

but due to the visuals overlaying reality, he wasn't my friend, he was a skeleton with pieces of decomposing flesh still hanging on and the most menacing, sharp-toothed grin I have ever seen. There was another presence in the form of anthropomorphized black mist… The skeleton came over and pinned me down. I have no idea what they were doing to me… It was loud, frantic, oppressing, exhausting, and felt pure evil...and I thought I was stuck there forever. It just kept going and going, getting worse with each second. Time was going so slow that it felt like days.

- BlueLight user zenmasterjack 

It seems clear, then, that making the choice to use DMT is not something that should be taken lightly. The experiences it carries with it can end up being absolutely traumatizing.

Common short and long-term side effects of DMT

Just because it isn’t necessarily “addictive” doesn’t mean there aren’t some serious short-term and long-term consequences associated with DMT abuse. In fact, some of the immediate side effects of abusing DMT can be quite dangerous in and of themselves. 

According to the DEA, these short-term effects include:

  • Agitation
  • Seizures
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Muscular incoordination
  • Coma
  • Respiratory arrest 

Beyond these immediate effects is also the ever-looming threat with most hallucinogens that the affected individual may act uncontrollably and irrationally, putting themselves and others in danger. This risk is especially compounded if they are in high-risk situations such as driving a vehicle. 

Significantly more study needs to be done on the long-term effects of DMT but also similar to other hallucinogens, Dimethyltryptamine also carries the risk of “flashbacks.” These episodes, characterized by a sudden onset of hallucinatory sensations, can happen without warning and long after taking the drug. 

And if you experience such a flashback during a physically risky event, you may not be able to control your body sufficiently enough to avoid physical danger.

Dimethyltryptamine Withdrawal Symptoms

DMT, like other hallucinogens, is unique in the drug world in that it does not produce a physical dependency in abusers.

It is true that the body is capable of building up a tolerance to the drug and, in fact, such a tolerance grows quite quickly. But if that tolerance is not overcome or met, the body still will not normally go through withdrawals.

A few items of note though: as with nearly anything, whether it be an experience, a person, or a drug, DMT can develop a psychological dependence if it’s abused too often.

Ceasing your abuse of Dimethyltryptamine if you’re psychologically dependent on it then can cause mental withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of motivation
  • Rapid mood changes
  • Agitation

And while DMT may not carry with it the physically unbearable withdrawal symptoms like some other drugs, the psychological symptoms themselves can make dropping the drug permanently much more difficult than you might expect.

DMT and MAOIs

Another aspect of abusing and addiction to DMT that many people don’t discuss is the potential danger of taking unregulated amounts of MAOIs, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors. 

Most commonly used as antidepressants, MAOIs are necessary when taking DMT orally in that they allow the drug to actually be absorbed into the system. Without it, DMT will have little to no effect

The danger comes from using these substances without the knowledgeable guidance of a medical professional. Besides the threat of developing a separate addiction entirely is a wide range of other physical side effects that come from abusing these prescription medications. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, some of these threats may include: 

  • Birth defects
  • Dangerous interactions with certain foods and beverages
  • Hazardous reactions with combined with other drugs
  • Development of Serotonin Syndrome
  • Increase in suicidal thoughts or behaviors 

Given these potential side effects, some of which may be especially dangerous, it’s crucial to your health that you only take MAOIs according to your doctor’s prescription. Mixing it with DMT may lead to a variety of unforeseen consequences and put you in even more danger as a result.

Am I Addicted to DMT?

What Is DMT Addiction?

One of the first questions people ask when it comes to this drug is “How addictive is DMT?” And the truth is, when you look at only the physical side of things, DMT’s addiction potential is virtually zero. 

Like many other hallucinogens, there is little to no risk of becoming physically dependent on Dimethyltryptamine. But DMT addiction isn’t just about physical dependency – it’s also about the psychological aspects of regular DMT abuse. 

In fact, the psychological aspects of addiction are some of the main contributors to why drugs are so addictive in the first place. 

Sure, the cravings and withdrawal symptoms can be unbearable, but it’s the mental longing for these substances that more often than not fuels an addiction sufferer’s eventual relapse.

Determining whether you are actually psychologically addicted to DMT is one of the first steps in recovery. In fact, simply admitting that you have a problem in the first place can be one of the most difficult parts of the entire recovery process

One of the best ways of quickly determining if you may be addicted to Dimethyltryptamine is by taking a short and effective online addiction quiz

Anyone looking for a more in-depth analysis can also take the self-guided assessment included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as well.

Getting Help for Your DMT Abuse

Like most other hallucinogens, DMT abuse rarely results in physical dependence and whether or not it’s even possible is still a topic of much debate in the addiction community. 

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t become psychologically addicted to DMT.

What’s more, the dangers associated with its continued use make Dimethyltryptamine abuse especially hazardous. That’s why anyone who thinks they or someone they know has developed a DMT substance use disorder should seek professional help today.

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