Colorado has been facing and working to combat an opioid problem, but opioids aren’t the only drugs that are problematic across the state including in Colorado Springs, Denver, Boulder, Palmer Lake and other cities and towns. Other less common but still harmful drugs cause destruction in communities across Colorado, and one such example is called DMT.
Below we’ll explore what DMT is, whether or not it’s addictive and other important information about the drug that’s relevant to people in Colorado and nationwide.
What is DMT?
DMT stands for dimethyltryptamine. This is a hallucinogenic drug that naturally occurs in plants and animals. It’s similar in some ways to more well-known and commonly used hallucinogens such as mushrooms and LSD.
DMT has a long history, and it has been used in religious ceremonies and rituals for hundreds of years. This hallucinogenic and psychedelic drug creates a brief set of experiences that can include both visual and auditory hallucinations, and it’s currently a Schedule I controlled substance in the U.S.
This means that it doesn’t have current standards of safety, it has no medical use or treatment, there’s a high abuse potential, and it’s illegal to buy it, make it, or possess it.
The use of the drug in religious rituals is common in South America, and it’s a powder that’s found in plants not only in South America but also locations like Mexico and Asia. It can be vaporized, smoked in a pipe, or brewed in teas such as ayahuasca. Less commonly it may be injected or snorted.
DMT has a chemical structure similar to certain medicines used to treat migraines, and the peak effects of the substance usually start within 3 to 5 minutes, and the total length of time the drug effects are felt is usually 30 to 45 minutes. This may be somewhat longer if it’s brewed and consumed as a tea.
People take DMT because they want to gain spiritual insight or just have a psychedelic experience, and it may lead to feelings of euphoria, altered sensations and of course hallucinations. Some people who use the drug describe the experience they have on it as life-changing or incredibly profound, whereas other people feel panicked or have a sense of terror or extreme anxiety. The differences in experiences is just one reason this drug can be dangerous.
Some of the physical side effects of DMT can include an increased heart rate and blood pressure, agitation, rhythmic eye movements, and when taken orally it often leads to gastrointestinal side effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Some of the mental side effects can last for days or weeks after a person takes DMT.
Is DMT Addictive?
People frequently wonder is DMT addictive, and it’s somewhat of a gray area when it comes to answering this question.
DMT is a psychedelic substance that’s in the same class as drugs like peyote and LSD, and it impacts the brain areas that use serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter. While some people might want to argue DMT isn’t addictive, because of the fact that it changes the way neurotransmitters in your brain behave, and the way signals are sent to one another, it can lead to a psychological addiction or dependence over time.
An addiction or dependence to DMT is different however from addiction to other drugs, because it doesn’t lead to withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it.
Some of the signs you have a problem with DMT include being obsessed with it and thinking about it often, trying to control your use of the drug and being unsuccessful, developing a tolerance to it, or continuing to use DMT even when it interferes with other areas of your life. Another sign of a problem with DMT occurs when someone participates in risky or dangerous behaviors or activities when they’re using it.
As with other drugs, determining whether or not an addiction to DMT exists is complex, and there may also be situations where someone with a DMT problem also uses other drugs and exhibits signs of a polydrug addiction, or where underlying mental health issues exist.
Is DMT Physically Addictive?
DMT isn’t necessarily physically addictive, at least not in the sense that it produces withdrawal symptoms. However, there is some evidence to indicate that it can lead to the development of a tolerance rather quickly.
What this means is that as you take DMT your body starts to adjust to it, and you need higher doses to feel the same effects, so while it may not be a full-blown physical addiction like you get with other drug classes, some elements manifest themselves as a type of physical addiction.
Is DMT Chemically Addictive?
A lot of understanding the risks of DMT rely on understanding the chemical effects it has on your brain. DMT has a structure that’s very similar to serotonin which is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter found in your brain. When you take DMT, it raises your serotonin level, which is why you may have positive feelings or a euphoric experience associated with it.
However, this can also lead to risks if you’re taking antidepressants which also raise your serotonin levels. If so, you may accumulate so much serotonin that you have something called serotonin syndrome. Some of the symptoms of this can include high blood pressure, confusion, headache and a loss of muscle coordination.
Understanding the relationship between DMT and serotonin is important because it shows that this drug does have the potential to impact the chemicals in your brain, and that can create a type of addiction, although more research is still needed on the topic.
With DMT and other psychedelic drugs, people also tend to develop an addiction to the experiences surrounding the drug, so they continue to seek it out to replicate those feelings or the emotions they had while on it.
If you think you might have a problem with DMT, there are resources in Colorado for residents of Colorado Springs, Palmer Lake, Denver, Boulder and statewide to seek treatment in a safe, healthy and effective way.