Dimethyltryptamine (otherwise known as DMT) is a class of potentially powerful psychedelic drugs. Keep reading to learn more about DMT, its usage, effects, and addictive qualities.

Dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, is a dangerous and emotionally addictive psychedelic drug. While many associate the use of these types of drugs with the 1960’s or 70’s, they are still widely available, and increasingly popular, today.

The Origins of DMT

In 1931, chemists originally synthesized DMT. At this point, however, the psychedelic effects were unknown to researchers. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that these chemists learned of the cognitive impacts of DMT. In fact, many indigenous South American tribes had already been using DMT in rituals for generations. Since its discovery, it has been found in a variety of plants and animals. While DMT is naturally occurring in the human body, it can be highly dangerous when taken as a separate substance.

Once the hazardous psychedelic impacts were discovered, the substance became illegal in the mid 1960’s. With the introduction of new scheduling laws in the 1970’s, further research on DMT were thwarted, as it become nearly impossible for researchers to obtain legally. It wasn’t until the 1990’s when the FDA approved clinical research of the substance at the University of New Mexico.

Strassman’s Research

Dr. Richard Strassman was the lead researcher for this new study. While he was aware that DMT is present in the human body, he specified a number of important facts. For instance, when a person is near death, the pineal gland may produce DMT, which can explain the hallucinations experienced by many survivors of near-death occurrences. He also found that the body produces DMT on the 49th day of pregnancy, which he attributed to the development of the fetal “soul.” As such, he dubbed the term the “spirit molecule.”

Forms of Use

The most common manner of use is of DMT is inhalation. This has been the preferred method chosen by the South American tribes during their spiritual and healing rituals. This route of administration is still used in the United States today, though users employ bongs or vaporizers to obtain a high. Depending on the user, approximately 15 to 60 mg is vaporized at a time. This is accomplished through breathing in the vapors and users can begin to feel the effects in under a minute.

When vaporized, the high can last about 5 to 15 minutes, earning it the nickname the “businessman’s trip.” Once inhaled, the high has been described as extremely intense, though short lived. Dependent users often combine DMTs with Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), as they can increase the length of the psychedelic effects. The Monoamine Oxidase is what breaks down DMT in the body, so inhibiting its breakdown can lead to long lasting effects. This, however, can also lead to a stronger emotional dependence of the substance.

Injection and oral ingestion are lesser-used forms of DMT administration. During his research, Strassman found that injection of DMT produced similar results to inhalation. Research has found, however, that oral administration of DMT is ineffective unless taken with an MAOI (or its successor, the Reversible Inhibitor of Monoamine Oxidase A, or RIMA). South American tribes would often make teas with plants that contain DMT, and a vine that acted as a RIMA, in order to make the tea orally active. This mode of administration can produce a high of up to three hours. This length of high, however, can lead to devastating impacts for those who experience negative side effects.

It should be strongly noted that, despite human trials and tribal uses, DMT can be highly lethal in any manner of administration. Additionally, use of MAOI’s can be deadly in and of themselves, especially when combined with certain medications. Use of DMT with other substances, such as alcohol, can increase the lethal impacts of the drug, as well.

The Impacts of DMT on the Mind and Body

During the high, users often experience visual and auditory hallucinations, along with intense euphoria. This euphoria is one reason that DMT causes dependence. One commonly reported hallucination caused by DMT is of otherworldly creatures, such as elves or gnomes. Aside from the euphoric high and hallucinations, users may also experience:

• Stomach pain;
• Intense fear;
• Lung pain;
• Fast heart rate;
• Increased body temperature;
• Time distortion.
• Seizures;
• Loss of muscle control;
• Increased blood pressure;
• Dilated pupils;
• Involuntary eye movements;
• Inability to breath;
• Vomiting;
• Coma; and even
• Death.

The Addictive Nature of DMT

DMT has recently experienced a rise in popularity, which has had lethal results for users. In fact, in a study of nearly 22,300 individuals in 2012, 8.9% said they had tried DMT in their life and 5% said they had used it within the last year. Additionally, of the new users of hallucinogens surveyed, 24% said they had used DMT. This was the highest rate among new users for all classes of hallucinogens.

The intense high may be a factor contributing to DMT’s recent uptick in popularity. Its impacts have led it to be labeled as one of the most powerful hallucinogens by the Global Information Network About Drugs (GINAD). Unfortunately, this popularity has also led to an increase in DMT-related deaths. During use, some individuals may lose consciousness, which can lead to loss of brain function. If a user vomits while unconscious, they may choke and become unable to breath, leading to death. Users of DMT are also known to attempt suicide during the trip.

The hallucinogenic effects of DMT impacts all of the user’s senses, including their ability to think, see, hear, smell, and feel. This altered reality and euphoric nature can lead to an addiction, but can also lead to what is called a “bad trip.” During this experience, users can become aggressive or violent, and may even try to inflict harm on themselves or others. The results of DMT use are unpredictable, and can vary greatly from person to person. The dosage of DMT, the users’ specific make up, and mixing substances can all lead to deadly consequences. Often, DMT alone is enough to be lethal, depending on the user.

While hallucinogens, as a class, are not deemed to be physically addictive, they can create emotional dependence and users can suffer from Hallucinogen Use Disorder, which can lead to many negative psychological and physical impacts. In 2014 alone, nearly 250,000 Americans suffered from this debilitating disorder.

DMT In The United States Today

Today, DMT is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The drug has been allowed by federal courts to be used limitedly in religious ceremonies within the United States. Despite its illicit status, DMT is still illegally created in labs and can be ordered online from foreign countries.

While treatment for use of DMT typically does not involve detox (because the drug is broken down quickly), use of unique therapy is often necessary to aid in the emotional dependence of the substance.