DMT – How Does it Work? What are the Risks and Side Effects?

What is DMT?

Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a white, crystalline hallucinogenic compound found in ayahuasca. It is a plant- based mixture. Notably, this drug has an increasing popularity rate. Recently, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted a survey. It showed that the number of people using it in the U.S. during the year of 2006 was 688.000. Additionally, in 2012 that number went up to 1.475.000. Among this vast number of users, the majority are young males attending school.

The latest research happened in 2016 by the Global Drug Survey. In this case, it showed that 2.24% of people used DMT in the last year.

How does DMT work?

Researchers believe this drug was initially used in shamanic rituals in Amazonian tribes. Today, DMT is popular because of the psychedelic experiences it provides. Therefore, people gave it the name “spirit molecule”. As mentioned, dimethyltryptamine is present in ayahuasca. However, it is also a naturally occurring substance in our body. Interestingly, its biological purpose is not quite well examined. As a result, many scientists eagerly continue to search for new revelation.

However, what we do know is that like most hallucinogenic substances, this drug also acts as a mind-alerting chemical. It does this by influencing neural circuits in the brain which use serotonin. More precisely, it exudes its effects in the prefrontal cortex. This is an area involved in mood, cognition, and perception. At the same time, it also covers other regions in charge of regulating arousal. In addition, it also includes physiological responses to stress and panic. (Passie, 2008; Nichols, 2004; Schindler, 2012; Lee, 2012)

Is DMT harmful?

Actually, the production of DMT happens naturally by some plants and even the human brain. They consider this substance to be a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act. It is not approved for any kind of medical treatment since the FDA has found no medical value with it.

There aren’t any reliable facts that the drug produces dependence in the same way other drugs do. Nonetheless, it is a harmful drug, and like any other hallucinogenic substance. Therefore, it may cause serious side-effects.

What are DMT short-term side effects?

The main goal of DMT intake is psychedelic experience. This is much like the one triggered by LSD or psilocybin ingestion. These “trips” normally last 30 – 45 minutes. Also, the user can feel the drug’s effects almost immediately.

Common short-term side effects of taking this drug are:

  • Dizziness
  • Rapid or involuntary eye movements
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps
  • Shivering
  • Altered perception of time and space
  • Hallucinations – visual and auditory
  • Intense joy
  • Epiphanies – believed to have come from divine intervention, aliens or other mystical beings)

What are DMT long-term side effects?

Using DMT can cause serious health problems. Therefore, it can affect a person’s physical and mental well-being. In fact, it will last their whole life.

Physiological side-effects of the drug may include the following:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Blood pressure increase
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

In large doses more serious side-effects can occur:

  • High fever that can damage the heart and brain
  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Dehydration
  • Hyperthermia
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Coma
  • Death

What is the greatest risk and danger of prolonged DMT use? It is the effects on one’s psychological well-being. It has the ability to alter a person’s perception by changing the brain’s chemistry. This is because this drug is a hallucinogenic. As a result, it can result in creating an image of distorted reality.

Psychological side – effects of DMT may be:

  • Psychosis
  • Flashbacks (frequently or spontaneously)
  • Chronic audio – visual hallucinations
  • Mood disorder
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Schizophrenia

Other general psychological effects:

  • Depersonalization – loss of identity, existential crisis.
  • Emotional disturbances – fear or apprehension. There is a study performed by Rick Strassman MD. They published the results in the Archives of General Psychiatry (1994). It revealed that even experienced users of psychedelic drugs can face some dangers. The users experience euphoria mixed or coexisted with anxiety.
  • Very realistic hallucinations.

Treating DMT use problem

DMT is not associated with typical withdrawal symptoms. However, a detox program or an inpatient treatment are necessary. This is if a person is experiencing intense psychiatric symptoms.

Consult an expert on how to approach this matter, and make sure you do not hesitate to reach out. Physical and psychological consequences may be devastating.

After the detox period, experts highly recommend group therapy and support group attendance.