DMT, also known as the spirit molecule, naturally occurs in very small quantities in the brain. It is found naturally in ayahuasca, a South American brew of leaves that is taken for religious purposes.
DMT ( N, N-dimethyltryptamine) is commonly produced (illegally) as a synthetic compound in the United States. Regardless of origin, whether from South America or elsewhere, DMT’s use as a hallucinogenic drug produces strong mind-altering experiences. The highs associated with DMT are reportedly stronger than those derived through the use of other hallucinogens, such as psilocybin (magic mushrooms) or LSD.
This psychedelic drug is commonly taken by vaporization. However, nasal use, or snorting synthetic DMT as crystalline powder may be used as well.
Freebase snorting DMT is reportedly very painful and is not considered a preferred method of ingestion because of the pain and because high doses are required to feel effects.
What Is DMT?
Many people take DMT recreationally (a “DMT trip”) or to feel a greater sense of spiritual awareness. By itself, DMT is quickly metabolized — especially if eaten. It is usually combined with an MAOI (MAO-inhibitor) to slow its breakdown.
DMT does not create the same experiences for every person. The drug’s purity, the quantity taken, a person’s mental health, and surroundings will influence outcomes.
DMT’s typical side effects include:
- altered senses of time
- altered sense of space
- profound experiences with deities, aliens, or the universe
- out-of-body experiences
- auditory hallucinations
- visual hallucinations
- altered perceptions of reality
- altered perceptions of sounds
- altered visual perception
When vaporized, DMT takes effect almost instantly — lasting upwards of an hour after the 15-minute peak. Nasal ingestion of DMT is typically performed by mixing an MAOI with DMT powder into coconut cream which is applied inside the nose.
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Despite the good feelings that many people derive from DMT use, it carries heavy side effects that may complicate existing health conditions. Side effects and “trip” outcomes are unpredictable when DMT is taken with MDMA, cannabis, ketamine, or synthetic opioids like tramadol and fentanyl.
Side Effects Of Snorting DMT
DMT does not typically create physical dependence like strong opioids or benzodiazepines. However, it can result in serious short-term and long-term effects on the body. People with heart conditions are especially at risk.
Possible side effects include:
- elevated heart rate
- high blood pressure
- rapid eye movements
- dilated pupils
- respiratory arrest
- damaged voice
- damage to the nasal septum
- damage to the mucous membrane
Long-Term Effects Of DMT Use
Besides the potential physical impact of having extended high blood pressure or heart rate, the major concern surrounding even recreational DMT use involves altered mental status.
Mental Health Impact
Frequent drug use of hallucinogens like DMT may cause symptoms similar to that of schizophrenia, called hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD).
HPPD is essentially a psychotic state where strong, spontaneous flashbacks interrupt normal function.
Additional long-term symptoms present as persistent psychosis that may present with the following symptoms:
- disorganized thinking
- altered visual perception
- unstable mood
Addiction To DMT
Because DMT does not cause physical dependence, the possibility of addiction is mostly a psychological risk. People that have previously enjoyed a feeling of spiritual well-being may seek out the feelings more than they had previously intended and may frequently ingest DMT.
The signs of problem DMT drug abuse include symptoms like:
- foregoing normal activities to get DMT
- sacrificing personal and professional relationships
- ignoring obligations
- craving DMT
- lying about drug use
- combining DMT with other drugs
- experiencing flashbacks or psychotic symptoms
- feeling out of touch
Treatment For Drug Abuse
If you or a loved one has been using or abusing hallucinogenic compounds like DMT, help is available. The risks associated with DMT abuse are serious and may permanently change your associations with reality.
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Treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy may be useful for developing the necessary tools to live a drug-free life. Call one of our treatment specialists to learn more about inpatient and outpatient drug treatment.
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- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — n,n-dimethyltryptamine (DMT)
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — How Do Hallucinogens (LSD, Psilocybin, Peyote, DMT, and Ayahuasca) Affect the Brain and Body?
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — DrugFacts: Hallucinogens