Psychoactive drugs have made the news rounds in recent years, as more people get hooked on these substances. In this article, we will discuss alpha-methyltryptamine, its addictive effects, and the dangers of abusing it.
What is Alpha-Methyltryptamine?
Alpha-Methyltryptamine (α-Methyltryptamine or AMT) is a psychedelic drug that belongs to the tryptamine family. This drug is commercially known as Indopan, IT-290, IT-403, U-14,164E and 3-IT. It is a long-lasting psychoactive drug and euphoric stimulant. Its mode of mechanism has resemblance to that of serotonin.
This substance was developed in the 1960s as an antidepressant by workers from Upjohn but gained its popularity in the 1990s. This was legally used in Russia under the brand name Indopan until it was banned.
It was said that a 5-milligram dose of this drug can be helpful in treating depression.
History of Alpha-Methyltryptamine Development
The following timeline shows the development and rise to infamy of the controversial drug:
- March 1968: The Bureau of Drug Abuse Control mentions in Microgramthat AMT (IT-290) is available on the street as a “new” hallucinogen.
- 1997: AMT is briefly available for purchase on the internet through CRSB.
- Autumn 1998: More research chemical websites emerged as AMT becomes more widely available.
- January 2003: There was an urgency in scheduling both AMT and 5-MeO-DIPT by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
- April 2003: Due to an increase in use and health hazard, both AMT and 5-MeO-DIPT are placed into Schedule I through the emergency scheduling procedure. This makes both chemicals illegal to buy, sell, or possess without a DEA license.
- September 2004: AMT is placed permanently into Schedule I of the U.S. Controlled Substances Act.
Why is alpha-Methyltryptamine being used?
Just like other psychoactive drugs, its effect has been sought after by individuals especially those who might be trying to escape from their personal problems or just merely wanting to belong to a group.
These drugs have the ability to alter the thoughts and moods of an individual. Examples of most common psychoactive drugs include ecstasy, cannabis, amphetamine, alcohol, heroin and cocaine.
How is alpha-Methyltryptamine taken?
The substance is available in orange crystalline powder form, and can be dissolved in water for easier ingestion. It can be taken orally as tablet or capsule in 10 mg to 100 mg. It can also be smoked with dosages ranging from 2mg to 20mg.
Between the two methods of administration, smoking the drug can produce a faster effect than ingestion.
These drugs are often purchased from chemical companies through the internet.
How is alpha-Methyltryptamine used?
AMT is typically consumed orally up to 40 mg in dosage. It will take about 3-4 hours before the hallucinogenic effects can be felt and may last up to 12-24 hours. In some instances, when higher doses are taken, the effect may last until two days.
This drug is popular among teenagers and young adults who frequent parties, raves, concerts and music festivals where the use of club or party drugs such as MDMA or ecstasy are common.
What are the effects of alpha-Methyltryptamine?
The effect of this drug varies depending on the amount or dosage used. This means that a higher dose that an individual takes will result to increased euphoric or psychedelic effecs.
Using 20-30 mg dose, an individual may experience:
- Psychedelic effect
These effects may last up to 12 hours.
What are the side effects of using alpha-Methyltryptamine?
As the effect of the drug takes place, a user may experience the following symptoms:
- Pupil dilation
- Muscle tension
- Jaw tightness
- Altered state of mind
- Emotional distress
- Increased energy
- Blurry vision
- Diminished inhibitions
Why is alpha-Methyltryptamine dangerous?
When alpha-Methyltryptamine is used in conjunction with other substances, it can cause a high risk of danger to an individual. This includes other forms of substances such as alcohol or other drugs.
- The individual may experience a negative feeling of anxiety or discomfort, which can result to have an outrage. This may last up to several days and can severely affect one’s mental state, thus leading to the inability to perceive well or to make decisions.
- The effect of the drug can provide a euphoric effect to the user and at the same time cause harm to self and others because of disorientation. Several cases involved users forcing themselves to jump off roofs of buildings or run naked in the middle of the street without realizing what they are doing.
- Long-term use of any kind of psychedelic drugs can lead to permanent psychosis. Those who may have a history of mental illness are more prone to succumb to such condition. In worse cases, this can also lead to death.
- The use of psychedelic drugs can lead to several other mental conditions like anxiety, depression and depersonalization.
Over-all, the use of this psychoactive drug can affect the health of the individual as well as his social behavior wherein relationships among family members and friends are slowly being eaten away because of the effect of the drug in the user’s brain.
What is the drug’s effect on the brain?
These psychoactive drugs have the ability to alter the normal functioning of the brain wherein some drugs may mimic or block the effects of neurotransmitters.
The brain is organized into different regions that serve specific functions such as:
- The hindbrain is responsible for breathing and wakefulness.
- The midbrain is responsible for learning and reinforcing behaviors such as eating and drinking.
- The forebrain is very complex. This is responsible for abstract and critical thinking.
When these regions of the brain have been affected due to use of psychoactive drugs, the normal function is altered. Too much brain activity – such as the increase in dopamine release – may lead to a euphoric effect that can be uncontrollable most especially if the user has taken in large doses. Hyperactivity or too much secretion of hormones can be fatal.
The normal functioning of the brain may no longer occur after an individual has become heavily dependent on certain drugs. For this scenario, a proper detoxification process may be used to resolve the issue.
On extreme cases, psychological conditions may be irreversible. In other words, the treatment given to a user may only be able to arrest physical or other medical irregularities.
Is alpha-methyltryptamine addictive and prone to abuse?
An individual may start out as being curious of the drug. The euphoric effect may be a welcoming feeling to the user as he feels numb or out of control without any worries or inhibitions. After some time of taking the drug, though, he may not feel the same kind of effect that he used to.
The next step would probably be taking a higher dose until the certain degree of “happiness” may be achieved. At this stage, the user may have such tolerance to the drug to a point that it leads to addiction.
Diagnosis of alpha-methyltryptamine abuse
Any form of inappropriate usage of drugs can lead to permanent mental health condition or even death. That is why it is best to intervene immediately when a person whom you know is involved in using AMT.
Early diagnosis is a move to save not only the user’s life but also the lives of people who surround him. Individuals under the influence of drugs can do drastic things without thinking of the repercussions of their actions.
If you suspect some powder in your home or location as AMT, you may use drug identification test kits to check the identity of the substance in question.
Treatment for alpha-Methyltryptamine addiction
Treatment for AMT addiction is similar to other types of drug addiction. The patient may be confined to a drug rehabilitation facility where he will undergo a medically supervised detoxification process which will aid the individual in getting rid of the drug inside his system.
After detoxification, the patient may need to undergo behavioral therapy accompanied by substance abuse counseling and therapy. The length of treatment will depend on the patient’s diagnosis and progress.
Continuous research and development of drugs designed to help people suffering from specific medical conditions is under way. However, when these drugs fall in the wrong hands, they may be prone to abuse. If you are in possession of drugs that may have a high potential for abuse, the best way to prevent recovering addicts from having access is to dispose of the drugs properly.
More than wanting to ban these dangerous drugs, there should be a comprehensive public awareness campaign about its dangers and risks to avoid future problems.
Legality of alpha-Methyltryptamine use
AMT is currently categorized under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. This means that it is illegal to manufacture, buy, possess or use this drug. It has a high potential for abuse and has no legitimate medical purpose. Other drugs under this schedule are cannabis, ecstasy, heroin, and amphetamine.
Fatality due to AMT Intoxication
The drug has become popular among high school students and young professionals. The use of this substance has become widespread since it was easily bought through the internet prior to the scheduling on April 2003.
Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department revealed one of the first known fatalities in the U.S. associated with AMT, back in February 2003. Prior to the victim’s death, he informed his roommate that he was taking hallucinogenic drugs from which he was able to “discover the secret of the universe”. Twelve hours later, the young college student was found dead lying on his bed.
There was a 1-gram vial recovered from the scene. It was sent to the laboratory and its initial screening of urine by enzyme-multiplied immunoassay technique found that it has traces of amphetamine. Further research established the definitive cause of death as the presence of large doses of AMT on different organs of the body.
This case of AMT overdose, among many others, prompted the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to have an emergency scheduling of the drug.
Statistics on Illicit Drug Use
About 200 million worldwide are known to be using some form of illicit drugs such as cannabis, heroin, amphetamines, opioids and cocaine. About 8% of youth in Western Europe and more than 20% from the USA are reported to having used at least one type of illicit drug other than marijuana.
Similarly, the increase in the number of individuals using these drugs through injection has aggravated the spread of HIV worldwide.
The exact number of AMT users has not been established as some cases may have not been properly identified due to AMT not being one of the drugs that can be determined easily through regular drug testing. Standard drug tests usually identify the following substances:
- Phencyclidine (PCP)