Will DMT Be the Answer to Addiction?
DMT has long been used to link people to other realms. Might it soon also be used to treat people for addiction? One Canadian R&D company believes it just might. And it’s consequently tasked a Dutch research organization with finding out one way or another.
The Canadian R&D company is called Entheon Biomedical. The Dutch research organization is the Centre for Human Drug Research. The two concerns have just entered a clinical study agreement that in the end will determine whether or not DMT is indeed the miracle drug the indigenous Amazonians believe it to be. Only in this case, rather than realizing altered states of consciousness, we’ll see an end to addiction.
Sound far-fetched? Perhaps. But we’ve vanquished other foes. So why not addiction? Besides, what do we have to lose?
Technology Networks‘ Senior Science Writer Ruairi J MacKenzie interviewed Entheon CEO Timothy Ko in order to find out just what was what. We’ve paraphrased some of their chat below.
Before we get into the mechanics of the upcoming DMT clinical study though, let’s first do a quick dive into DMT.
Just What is DMT?
DMT is N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, a chemical substance that occurs in many plants and animals. Most folks know it as a psychedelic. That’s largely because of its long and storied history as a ritual aid for various indigenous peoples, as well as a brief run of popularity in the Swinging ’60s. More pharmacological types prefer the term psychotropic.
DMT acts fast and subsides quickly. But its effects are nonetheless intense. Think LSD or magic mushrooms without the wait — or the commitment. DMT can be inhaled, ingested, or injected. Its effects, however, depend on the dose, as well as its mode of administration. When inhaled or injected, the effects last about five to 15 minutes. When orally ingested as in the ayahuasca brew, effects can last three hours or more. However it’s consumed, DMT generally produces vivid “projections” of mystical experiences involving euphoria and dynamic hallucinations of geometric forms. (Thanks Wiki!)
Again, native Amazonian tribes have long-used the ayahuasca brew for both medicinal and spiritual purposes. Ayahuasca is not really a “drug” though. It’s a blend of the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and a shrub called chacruna (Psychotria viridis), both of which contain the dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and harmala alkaloids that can induce a hallucinogenic state.
Or reduce illicit cravings. Indeed substance abuse experts are not so much interested in DMT’s hallucinogenic properties as there are its addiction-fighting attributes. In the first place, DMT’s entirely non-addictive. Therefore there’s little risk of abuse. Beyond that though, DMT can help provide spiritual breakthroughs, as well as promote psychological introspection. In fact, many users have said that it’s like a shortcut to talk therapy.
Not Your Grandpa’s LSD Treatment
This isn’t the first time the West has proposed using hallucinogens to treat drug addiction. In the ’50s, LSD was applied to alcohol and other substance use disorders. The results were reportedly promising. However, due to legal issues, the trials were quickly phased out. Now though there should be no such obstacles.
DMT in Addiction Treatment
Substance use disorders have proved stubbornly resistant to treatment. That’s all too common knowledge. It’s also why Entheon commissioned the Centre for Human Drug Research to conduct a clinical trial investigating the safety and efficacy of intravenous DMT.
Entheon’s Timothy Ko told Technology Networks’ Ruairi J MacKenzie that “the objective of the study is to evaluate the safety of DMT in humans.” Pure and simple. Well, maybe not so simple. Especially considering the inherent difficulties in launching any new drug, let alone one designed to fight addiction. There’s also the murky world of pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics, which we won’t even pretend to fathom. Nevertheless, this is the sort of study that’s “critical” to understanding “DMT’s potential” to treat substance use disorders. So Ko and co. are giving it a go.
There are some unique challenges in treating substance use disorders though. It’s simply not like other run-of-the-mill mental health disorders. Not to undermine or belittle other mental health disorders, mind you, but substance use disorders do seem to be in a class all their own. Whether that’s first or last class is beside the point. The point is SUD’s uniqueness.
That’s obviously why we’ve yet to even come close to a successful treatment. Ko told MacKenzie that “the success rates of current treatments and interventions are dismal.” He also believes there’s no reason why we “as a society, [must] accept these low rates of success,” let alone settle for such a pitiful “foregone conclusion.” In fact, Ko’s endeavoring to completely flip the proverbial script. We want to “invert the addiction-recovery ratio,” he said, “and we believe we can do it through the development of a DMT-based therapeutic protocol.”
That would be dynamite. But that also leads us right back to “a very complicated situation.” Between the grappling addict, the overworked public health system and a society devastated with unchecked SUD, we do indeed have a few complications. Since there’s “no straightforward solution present,” Ko believes “a medicalized, psychedelic-assisted therapy model” will be just the thing “for substance-use sufferers to gain the clarity and support required to reclaim their lives.”
Let’s hope so.
Ko says Entheon’s initial targets are “nicotine addiction, alcohol-dependency and opioid use disorder.” He’s quick to add though that their “DMT-assisted therapeutic protocol is being designed to address the core mechanisms underlying all drug-seeking and using behavior.” [emphasis added] Drug-seeking behaviors come from “a complex psychological and emotional place,” said Ko. And DMT is uniquely suited to address this base state. Ko didn’t say it’s a magical elixir (he couldn’t even if he wanted to), but the fact that the drug seems to go where no other drugs can go certainly puts it in that realm. After all, why else would Amazonian shamans make great good use of it for these thousand-plus years?
Ko’s not relying solely on magical thinking of course. He’s also extensively consulted with a crack team of scientific advisors. He’s conducted a thorough and comprehensive review all historical studies too. In the end “DMT emerged as our ideal candidate for addiction treatment.” Entheon hopes to get their DMT studies underway in the third quarter of this year. And while it will be years before the drug will be ready to market, we’re wholeheartedly rooting for them.
Healing Properties is Here for You
Healing Properties applauds Entheon Biomedical for their vision, as well as their ambition. And yes, we’re cheering for them all the way. We’re also rooting for the Centre for Human Drug Research, who most certainly have their work cut out for them. Whatever they come up with, and however long the process takes, it’s incredibly encouraging to see companies think outside the box and take holistics into serious consideration. We only hope that when DMT does finally come to market the Amazon tribes somehow can benefit as well. After all, it is their ancient remedies which have brought us to this place.
What about you? What do you think? Would you try DMT? Does the prospect encourage you? Do you need some help now? You don’t have to wait for a maybe. However promising it sounds. Help is available right here right now. In fact, it’s just a phone call away. So if you do need help, please pick up that phone. Leave the tripping for tomorrow!
(Image: Ammit Jack / Shutterstock)