Drug and Alcohol

What Is DMT? Its Effects & More

What is DMT?

DMT is an extremely potent psychedelic drug. Like any substance, it's possible to become psychologically dependent on it. Learn more in our blog.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

March 14, 2023

N, N-dimethyltryptamine, better known as DMT, is a hallucinogenic tryptamine drug found in various plant and animal groups, including human beings. It may also be manufactured in a research lab.

This hallucinogenic drug exhibits effects comparable to those experienced by other drugs in its class such as LSD. According to the National Library of Medicine (NIH), herbs containing DMT have long been employed in religious rites in several South American areas. In the U.S., DMT is classified as a Schedule I restricted chemical, which implies it is unlawful to manufacture, purchase, acquire, or transport it.

DMT has a longstanding background stretching thousands of years. It has been used in South America for centuries, although the substance was first synthesized in 1931. There is scientific proof that it was used in Trinidad during the advent of the Spanish colonists, for instance.

DMT is illegally utilized because of its psychotropic and psychedelic properties. According to anecdotal information, several consumers describe using the medication to gain prophetic visions. Some researchers think its impact on the brain may be similar to a near-death encounter.

According to the 2021 Global Drug Survey, 7.4% of participants answered every micro-dosing using DMT. The technique of introducing fewer dosages of a substance to improve perception and innovative thinking is known as micro-dosing. In addition, 8.9% of respondents indicate lifelong usage, including 4.3% indicating usage in the previous year. This poll shows that use has grown over time, with comparable levels to methamphetamine.

In this article, you will be able to understand the various traits of the DMT drug, its side effects, addiction properties, and long-term implications of DMT usage. Try and grasp all the essential information that will assist you in further research or guide you around the various aspects of this medication. 

What Is DMT (N, N-Dimethyltryptamine)?

DMT is an intense hallucinogenic drug capable of creating hallucinations. A Schedule I drug, DMT currently has no medical use and is illegal.

DMT has also been around for centuries, used in religious and cultural practices in the Americas. Starting in the 1990s, young people began exploring DMT use for recreational purposes. Like other psychedelic drugs, DMT may not be addictive. However, its effects can be dangerous and unpredictable.

Research indicates that DMT may be endogenous, meaning it's a substance that originates in the bodies of living organisms.

Is DMT a Hallucinogen?

Yes, and it's a strong one, too. Hallucinogenic drugs like DMT, LSD, and more are often abused. SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, reports that nearly 115,000 adolescents aged between 12 and 17 regularly use hallucinogens. Hallucinogens are a class of drugs that affect how a person perceives time, movement, their selves, and time. Hallucinogenic drugs cause intense mood swings, and perceiving things that don't exist.

Researchers divide hallucinogens into two groups: classic hallucinogens and dissociative drugs. DMT is considered to be a classic hallucinogen, like LSD, mescaline (peyote), and magic mushrooms (psilocybin). Dissociative drugs include ketamine, PCP, and salvia.

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Are Hallucinogens Addictive?

More studies need to be done to answer that question. Although hallucinogenic drugs like DMT aren't considered to be addictive in the traditional sense, it's also possible to build up a tolerance to their effects. Tolerance means a person must take more of a drug to feel the same effects. This can turn into the compulsive behavior patterns of addiction.

How Does DMT Work?

DMT acts by preventing serotonin from serving in the central nervous system. Serotonergic drugs are traditional or modulatory psychedelics. Serotonergic hallucinogens are medicines that influence serotonin, a neurotransmitter that transports messages throughout the human body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects mood, metabolism, relaxation, and other vital body activities.

When your body's serotonin levels are either low or excessively high, it can severely impact your psychological and overall well-being.

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What Does DMT Look Like?

DMT is a white, crystalline powder that has a strong, bitter taste and a slight ammonia-like odor. It can be smoked in a pipe or vaporized when mixed with an herbal smoking blend. It can also be taken orally if it is combined with an MAO inhibitor, such as ayahuasca.

DMT tea is a traditional form of DMT consumption in many parts of the world. It can be made by boiling specific plants, which are known to contain psychoactive alkaloids, such as ayahuasca vine and chacruna leaves. This tea has been used for centuries in religious ceremonies and rituals and is said to induce vivid hallucinations. It looks like a dark, murky liquid with an earthy aroma.

DMT can also be processed into a wax-like substance known as “shatter” or “dab” when combined with solvents such as butane and propane. This form of DMT looks like a thick, glossy wax that is usually yellowish in color.

How Do People Use DMT?

The main way that people use DMT is to smoke or vaporize it in a pipe or bong. This method is said to produce intense, short-lasting hallucinations that can be anything from imagery of otherworldly landscapes and strange entities to complete disconnection from physical reality.

Another popular form of consumption is orally ingesting an MAO inhibitor, such as ayahuasca, and then taking DMT. This type of ingestion is said to produce a longer-lasting experience with deeper levels of introspection and spiritual exploration.

DMT can also be used in an entheogenic context, such as for religious or spiritual ceremonies. In these cases, the DMT is often combined with other traditional plant medicines, such as ayahuasca or San Pedro Cactus, to produce a more intense and longer-lasting experience that can last up to several hours. This type of use has been practiced for thousands of years in various cultures around the world.

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No. Although some places in the US are debating the legality of DMT, it's currently a Schedule I drug, meaning it has no legitimate medical use. DMT is illegal under state and federal law.

Street Names for DMT 

DMT has multiple street names. Here's a selection:

  • Changa

  • Dimitri

  • The Rogan

  • Businessman's trip

  • The spirit molecule

  • Forty-five-minute psychosis

  • Fantasia

  • Businessman's special

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Is DMT the Same as Ayahuasca?

In a way, yes. Ayahuasca's major volatile element is DMT. Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis are two herbs that have customarily been used to make ayahuasca. The latter includes DMT, while the former includes MAOIs, which block your body's proteins from dissolving DMT. The following are some significant distinctions between the two substances:

  • DMT usually includes no additional substances, whereas ayahuasca has botanicals and other molecules

  • DMT has the potential to be more potent than ayahuasca

  • Several chemicals in ayahuasca might affect DMT euphoria

  • DMT might be more hazardous and have negative impacts than ayahuasca

What Are the Effects of DMT?

DMT, like most substances, has different effects on various individuals.

Many people thoroughly like the process. On the other hand, some find it intimidating or terrifying. Some refer to this unfavorable encounter as a bad trip. Those who have used it have described feeling like they're going at breakneck speeds through some maze of dazzling colors and forms. A lot of people who use DMT claim to have had out-of-body encounters and transformed into someone else. Some claim to have visited other realms and communicated with alien-like creatures known as "machine elves." Several users also describe a hard DMT hangover that leaves them getting anxious.

DMT is recognized for producing an extremely intense "trip," which is the term used to describe the sensation of using hallucinogenic drugs. Whenever you take DMT, the world is incredibly confusing: sights, noises, things, and even memory might seem very weird, and some individuals share out-of-body sensations. DMT can cause you to:

  • See and hear stuff that is not present (convulse), which can be a pleasant or unpleasant encounter

  • Duration and mobility seem to be accelerating up or decreasing

  • Images and noises appear confused; this is commonly referred to as "visuals"

  • Have multiple visions at the same time

  • You may sense as if you are undergoing an out-of-body adventure

What effect does it have on people's behavior? DMT, like any psychedelic substance, can cause unpredictable reactions in users. Several individuals have described having a relatively close death encounter and being very silent and inward-looking as a response. In addition, many people describe the inability to move when taking DMT.

How Is DMT Consumed?

DMT most often comes in a white, crystalline powder or a solid. Pure DMT is usually white; less pure versions are colored orange, pink, or yellow. When mixed with ayahuasca, DMT can look like a reddish-brown liquid.

DMT can be inhaled, burned, or sucked into a tube. DMT may also be infused. However, this technique is thought to be more dangerous. When employed in spiritual traditions, herbs and vines are heated to make a tea-like beverage of varied intensities.

  • DMT smoking: Some users combine DMT with herbs containing MAOIs, an antidepressant drug. These herbs include ayahuasca. This combination is called "changa." DMT is a harsh and potent drug to smoke directly. The risk of changa is its strength can vary widely.

  • DMT consumption: DMT is found in the South American herb chacruna, occasionally combined with the ayahuasca vine to create the ceremonial drink ayahuasca.

  • DMT Injection: DMT can be produced for injection, which is extremely risky.

  • DMT Snorting: DMT can be inhaled after being reduced into granules.

How Long Does DMT Last?

Artificial DMT takes effect quickly. It usually provides results within a few minutes but may take as long as ten minutes. Vegan beverages usually have an impact within twenty to sixty minutes. The frequency and duration of a DMT experience are determined by many factors, including:

  • The frequency of usage

  • The method of administering the drug (snorting, injecting, etc.)

  • Whether or not you have swallowed it

  • Whether you have used it with a combination of other drugs

In general, the impacts of DMT, when administered via snorting, sniffing or infusing, last for about forty-five to sixty minutes. Consuming it in a beverage-like mixture such as ayahuasca might leave you experiencing a sense of euphoria for two to six hours. 

Side Effects of DMT Use

DMT is a strong psychedelic drug with the potential to cause a variety of psychological and bodily adverse effects. 

Psychological Effects of DMT

DMT may have the following psychological effects:

  • Sensational high

  • Vibrant illusions

  • Changed the perception of time

  • Emotional exhaustion

  • Loneliness

Consider that some people feel the effects of DMT for days or weeks after using this hallucinogenic drug. 

Physical Effects of DMT

DMT may have the following physical effects:

  • Elevated blood pressure

  • High pulse rate

  • Indigestion

  • Psychosis

  • Irritation and agitation

  • Drowsiness

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Blurry vision

  • Constipation

  • Abdominal pain

  • Pinpoint pupils

  • Stiffness or pain in the chest

Risks and Hazards of DMT Consumption

Sure, many of them possess the capacity to be severe. The physical consequences of DMT, such as increased pulse rate and blood pressure, might be dangerous, particularly if you suffer from cardiovascular disease or are already experiencing hypertension. DMT consumption might even result in:

  • Convulsions

  • Lack of muscular strength, which raises the possibility of injury and accidents

  • Confusion

DMT may also be linked to cardiopulmonary arrest and dementia.

DMT can induce convulsions, difficulty in breathing, and paralysis at excessive amounts. DMT might have major negative implications for individuals with psychiatric issues or disorders, including schizophrenia. Even though there is no evidence that DMT creates physical dependence or addiction, many casual drug and alcohol users might have behavioral desires for the substance.

According to the National Institute on Drug Addiction (NIDA), unlike other hallucinogenic drugs, DMT doesn't quite appear to develop adaptation. Further research is needed to determine the possibility of addictive behavior. In addition, DMT poses a number of health hazards, can cause scary delusions, and may develop into emotion dysregulation.

Long-Term Impacts of DMT Use

DMT, similar to other hallucinogenic substances, can induce severe psychotic and hallucinogen-induced perceptual problems. This condition is most generally referred to as a "bad trip."

DMT might also cause an increase in the brain's chemical serotonin. This can result in a potentially lethal illness known as serotonin syndrome disorder. Individuals who use DMT while on other medications are more likely to acquire this problem. Several drugs and vitamins have also been linked to serotonin syndrome. Get medical attention right away if you've consumed DMT and are experiencing any of the symptoms listed:

  • Cognitive dissonance

  • Dizziness

  • Mood swings

  • Dilated pupils

  • Nervousness

  • Muscle ache

  • Muscular stiffness

  • Lightheadedness

  • Shaking uncontrollably

  • Overly active reflexes

Additional Concerns to Consider

DMT might combine with a variety of OTC and prescription pharmaceuticals and other substances. If you are taking DMT, prevent mixing it with additional medications, including:

The following pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs should not be mixed with DMT:

  • Opioids

  • Decongestants

  • Relaxants for the muscles

  • Vasodilators

  • Antihypertensive medicines

  • Depressants

  • Antipsychotics

Addictive Properties of DMT

As already stated above that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has stated that the addictive nature of DMT, in the long run, is unknown and is still debatable. NIDA further explains that DMT, unlike the majority of other hallucinogens, doesn't somehow seem to develop tolerance.

I Heard DMT Can Treat Depression. Is that True?

Emerging studies seem to indicate DMT might be able to treat depression. However, much more research needs to be done. Chemically, DMT works similarly to antidepressants: it targets and attaches to serotonin receptors in the brain's cells.

However, DMT is similar to antidepressants in another way: too much DMT (or chronic DMT use) can cause a condition called serotonin syndrome.

DMT and Serotonin Syndrome

Serotonin syndrome happens when people take too much of a drug that increases the levels of serotonin in the body. Potentially lethal, serotonin syndrome needs immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:

  • Anxiety

  • Shivering and tremors

  • Restlessness

  • Rapid breathing

  • Increased heart rate

and more.

DMT and Anxiety

DMT can make anxiety worse. Also, it's possible to experience a "bad trip" when taking DMT. A bad trip involves frightening hallucinations and visuals that can be terrifying for many.

Can DMT Affect a Person's Mental Health?

The effects of DMT on mental health are still relatively unknown. While many users report having positive, life-changing experiences, there is a potential for adverse reactions in some cases. Individuals may experience intense anxiety and fear, as well as confusion and disorientation.

It is important to remember that the effects of DMT can vary greatly from person to person, so it is important to practice caution and educate yourself on the potential risks before trying it.

What Is DMT Music?

Some people use DMT as a way to enhance their enjoyment of music, or to increase the spiritual aspect of DMT use. As of writing, there's no genre specifically for DMT use. However, many people listen to traditional, indigenous music if they're using DMT for religious purposes.

Suggestions for Harm Reduction

DMT is incredibly potent, even though it exists natively in many plants. If you do choose to try it, there are several precautions you may follow to lessen your chances of experiencing an adverse reaction. When consuming DMT, keep the following guidelines in thought:

  • Ensure you are not alone when consuming DMT. Take it in the presence of individuals you can trust

  • Ensure you are with someone responsible and sober at the time so that if things do not go as planned, they can manage

  • Before taking DMT, take a quick tour of your surroundings and be certain that you are in a secure and trustworthy place

  • Lay down or sit to lessen your chances of tripping or being injured while walking

  • DMT should not be mixed with other drugs or alcoholic beverages

  • DMT's impacts can be highly potent. Consequently, it's ideal to utilize it while you're in a good mood

Understand when and how to prevent it and when to employ it. For example, if you are on medications or perhaps another medicine that may cause serotonin syndrome, are consuming a DMT-interacting drug, have a cardiac problem, or have an elevated heart rate, you must avoid this drug.

DMT is a naturally occurring substance that has been employed in religious rites in various South American tribes for ages. Its synthetic variant is being employed for its potent psychedelic properties. If you intend to explore DMT, you should take several precautions to limit your potential for serious complications. This involves ensuring that any pharmaceutical or over-the-counter medicines you take will not produce an adverse reaction.

DMT Use Affecting Your Life? Reach Out to The Edge Treatment Center

What begins as a sense of comfort or pleasure from substance use quickly becomes obsessive behavior. In addition, drug or alcohol addiction tends to deteriorate brain function over time, resulting in long-term changes in brain chemistry.

Addiction is more about behavior patterns than a particular substance. If your DMT use is out of control, or if you're self-medicating with it, it's worth talking to The Edge Treatment Center. Our outpatient drug rehab will help you discover the reasons driving your drug use ... and the negative outcomes it may be causing you.

Reach out to The Edge Treatment Center today.

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