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DMT (or N, N-Dimethyltryptamine) is an extremely potent and short acting psychedelic drug, often called the spirit molecule. DMT can come as crystals, which can vary from white (purer) to orange sticky crystals (higher presence of DMT oxide). It’s rarely sold by street dealers and typically sourced via the dark web. Crystal DMT is typically smoked in a pipe with effects coming on very quickly and lasting around 15 minutes.
DMT is similar in structure to melatonin (a hormone that regulates the sleep–wake cycle) and serotonin (a monoamine neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness) and occurs naturally in all mammals in minute quantities. It’s unique in that tolerance doesn’t seem to build up with use.
DMT was first isolated from Mimosa tenuiflora by Oswaldo Gonçalves de Lima and then first synthesised by Richard Manske in 1931. DMT has since been found in significant quantities in at least fifty different plant species. However, DMT containing brews from South America, known as ayahuasca or yagé, have been consumed for thousands of years. These use another plant in the brew which provides a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) which makes it last much longer. We’ll make a guide on it soon!
The DMT experience is incredibly visual; users often report being contacted by strange entities or being transported to different dimensions. If you are not prepared for this, you are more likely to be overwhelmed and experience a bad trip. DMT also has profound effects on consciousness, so whilst it’s relatively safe physically, you can hurt yourself while in this disoriented state. It’s recommended to have a sober person present to monitor you whilst tripping (trip sitter).
It is imperative to have a trip sitter (someone with you who is completely sober). Mostly to take the pipe away after smoking to avoid burning yourself.
To be in a good state of mind and a stable place in your life.
Psychedelics amplify your state of mind so it’s important to be in a nice place with people you trust and are comfortable with.
Common DMT substitutes
Sometimes the drugs we think we are buying turn out to be something very different. Knowing of the common substitutes is an easy way to protect yourself and your friends.
Similar to DMT (part of the tryptamine class as well) and can be smoked as well but has a much lower dose range (active at 3-20mg). If confused for DMT it is likely to overdose and the effects likely be overwhelming mentally and very unpleasant. It may have some cardiogenic effects (increased heart rate, breathing, sweating etc).
Effects of DMT
Here are the most common effects, not everyone necessarily experiences all of them every time they consume the drug and other effects not listed might be felt. The likelihood of experiencing negative effects is far greater at high doses.
The effects are (from positive to negative):
Exposure to inner mechanics of consciousness
Ego death (personal bias suppression)
Unity and interconnectedness
Hallucinations (vision, sound, and touch)
Dysregulated body temperature
Severe confusion/disorganized thinking
Unease and gloomy feelings
A DMT overdose is rarely physically dangerous (it would take close to 100 times the typical dose); however, the experience can be incredibly overwhelming and disorienting. This can be tricky to notice externally so remember to take deep breaths and communicate your distress to the tripsitter who will attempt to soothe you. Take deep breaths and try to remember that it is only the effect of the drug ableand that it will be over soon.
Dose and onset of DMT
How? How Much? When? For how Long?
These are important considerations. DMT typically comes as crystals, to be smoked. Unless you had lab grade DMT, injecting it would be very dangerous due to impurities. As with any drug, the dose you take can vastly impact your experience so be careful. The effects you feel from a given dose of DMT will vary depending on many factors such as your weight, gender, metabolism, and tolerance from previous use. Read our section on dosing for more information. As DMT is a psychedelic, it is also strongly influenced by your mental state (“set and setting”).
Read our section on dosing and tolerance in ME for more information.
How you take it matters...
This is the most common method of taking DMT. Usually a glass pipe, with a sieve or dried plant matter used to hold the crystals. You should expect to cough because the smoke can be quite harsh.
You should always have a trip sitter or sober friend with you. Agree a signal and get them to take the pipe as you will only be able to take 1-2 puffs before the effects come on and you might drop the pipe and burn yourself.
Dosages for smoking DMT
- Threshold: 2-5 mg
- Light: 10-30 mg
- Medium: 30-50 mg
- Strong: 50-80 mg
- Heavy: 80-130 mg
When do the effects kick in?
The START time below is when you will usually begin to feel the effects of DMT from the time when you first take it. DURATION is roughly the length of time you will experience the effects, after which the effects will start to wind down and you might start to feel the comedown effects.
- START: 15 – 60 seconds (usually on the exhale)
- DURATION: 5 – 20 minutes
- After effects: 15 – 60 minutes
How often can I take it?
Interactions of DMT
Harm Reduction for DMT
Drugs are dangerous. Really, we should just avoid them, that much is true. But if you are going to take DMT then there are certain precautions that can reduce that risk. We’ve separated these into tips for preparing yourself beforehand, taking care of yourself and others during, and ways to mitigate the after-effects. Head over to our ME section if you would like to know more about harm reduction.
- Trip sitter. It is imperative to have a trip sitter (someone with you who is completely sober). Mostly to take the pipe away after smoking to avoid burning yourself.
- Set and setting. Psychedelics amplify your state of mind so it’s important to be in a nice place with people you trust and are comfortable with (setting), but also in a good state of mind (set). This will help avoid a scary and overwhelming experience (bad trip)
- Comfortable. Make the area where you are about to trip comfortable (setting), gather pillows and blankets as you will really be able to during the experience.
- Pen and paper. The DMT experience is quite similar to a dream in the sense that it will start to fade rapidly. Jot down your experience and your thoughts quickly. This will also help when integrating your experience.
- Hydration. Drink some water before and have a bottle of water to hand.
- Careful with the pipe. When your pipe is loaded, have someone else light it for you and make sure to signal to them to take it away, you are unlikely to be able to have more than 2-3 puffs before drifting into oblivion.
- Integrate. The DMT experience is extremely intense and short-lived. Take some time afterwards to process and integrate the experience back into your life.
- Day off. For at least 24 hours after taking DMT you will be slightly impaired physically and mentally. Avoid driving (and other technical activities) and complex thought tasks.
Risks of DMT
Overdosing on DMT is rarely dangerous, physically, and no deaths have been attributed to DMT use alone. However, taking too much usually results in a bad trip and can be very disorienting and scary. In this situation reassurance by the trip-sitter that the experience will soon be over and deep breaths can help.
DMT doesn’t cause dependence or addiction, and no physical withdrawal symptoms have been described. Unlike other psychedelics tolerance is not associated with its use.
Long term effects of DMT use
Hallucinogen Persisting Perceptual Disorder (HPPD) and flashbacks
Hallucinogen Persisting Perceptual Disorder (HPPD) and flashbacks both result in a re-experiencing of one or more of the psychedelic effects a long time after trying the drug (months or years). Scientists still don't agree on whether they are the same condition in varying degrees or completely separate; we need more research!
The main difference between HPPD and flashbacks is that the former is a distressing medical condition, while the latter can be experienced as either positive or negative. HPPD is a disorder described in DSM-V, but still this condition still remains poorly defined and studied. We still do not know how many people suffer from it, and what makes people vulnerable or optimal ways to treat it. People with HPPD experience visualizations that are frequent, and impinge upon their daily lives. Flashbacks are meant to be intermittent, infrequent experiences, whereas HPPD is described as a more persistent state. However, both terms are often used interchangeably.
If you decide to try this drug, the effects can be very disturbing in your everyday life. Visual effects seem to be more prominent (geometrical hallucinations, flashes or intensification of colour, movements, afterimages, trails and haloes).
If you think you have HPPD or are experiencing flashbacks, don't hesitate to seek medical help.
The Law on DMT
DMT is a class A/schedule 1 drug, making it illegal to possess purchase or sell.
DMT is listed in Anlage 1 of the BtMG, making it illegal to possess, purchase or sell.
DMT, along with most of its plant sources, is classified as a stupéfiant (narcotic).
DMT is banned and is on list 1 of the Opium Act. Producing, trading or possession of DMT is prohibited.
Decriminalized drug possession in quantities for personal use
DMT is listed as schedule 1, making it illegal to possess purchase or sell.
DMT is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.
DMT is listed as a schedule 3 drug.
Legal in ayahuasca and declared as a national cultural heritage.
Legal in ayahuasca and declared as a national cultural heritage since 1992.
Decriminalized in ayahuasca.
Asia and Australasia
Illegal. Class A drug