DMT – or N,N-Dimethyltryptamine – is a hallucinogenic and psychoactive drug found in many plants and animals but primarily derived from ayahuasca, a plant native to the jungles of South America. The effects of this intense drug begin quickly but typically end just as quickly. In the United States, DMT is manufactured from ayahuasca into a white powder. The Drug Enforcement Administration States that there is no medical use for this drug, and it is a Schedule I substance.
The length of time DMT spends affecting the brain is influenced by how the drug is consumed; however, it will stay in the body and can be detectable by drug tests for specific amounts of time.
The High from DMT
Hallucinations of fairies, conversations with aliens, and the classic “crystalline machine elves” are all commonly reported themes during DMT highs. The drug can be ingested in several ways. It is typically smoked freebase, although more people are traveling to places where they can drink ayahuasca tea. DMT may also be vaped through a pen, bong, or other vaporizer. The powder could be rolled up with tobacco, marijuana, or herbs like parsley and smoked. Some people eat it in various forms; very few people inject the drug, but this method of use does occur occasionally.
Euphoria from DMT sets in within the first five minutes at most. The majority of people who take DMT report that hallucinations begin almost instantly, unlike with other hallucinogenic drugs. The high peaks between three and five minutes, and lasts for 30-45 minutes, which depends more on the size of the dose than on how the drug was ingested.
There is some cross-tolerance between DMT and other hallucinogens like LSD, mescaline, and shrooms. While this means that a person may be able to take more, even a small dose of DMT typically induces visual and auditory hallucinations and sometimes tactile hallucinations.
DMT Side Effects
Once the high from DMT wears off, the person may experience side effects. The comedown may last for one or two days, although psychological side effects are more likely to last longer than physical side effects.
Some of the side effects from DMT include:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Chest pains or tightness
- Cognitive difficulties
- Reduced physical coordination
- Muscle weakness
People who are at risk of developing schizophrenia or other forms of psychosis should not take DMT because it could cause these serious mental health conditions to develop. Other mental health conditions like anxiety and depression typically go away once the hangover has ended.
Testing for DMT
The body metabolizes DMT fairly quickly, although different drug tests will show presence of the drug after different amounts of time have passed.
- Urine tests can detect the presence of DMT for 24 hours; after that, the drug passes through the kidneys and completely out of the body.
- Saliva tests will show the presence of DMT for between one day and five days after the drug has been consumed. There is no data on whether smoking, snorting, or eating DMT shows up for longer in the saliva.
- Hair tests can show the presence of any drug for 90 days, including DMT. If a person uses DMT once and is not a habitual user, this one-time experience will show up in their hair for three months.
- There is no data on whether DMT shows up in blood tests, although it metabolizes out of the body so quickly that this test is unlikely to be more effective than a urine test.
Long-Term Damage from DMT
There is little information on whether DMT will cause harm to a person long-term, aside from potentially triggering a psychotic break. If people experience a “bad trip” and have frightening hallucinations, they could accidentally harm themselves, which may cause scarring, internal damage, concussion, or other long-lasting injury. If people take DMT routinely for many years, they may cause lasting cardiovascular damage due to elevated heart rate and blood pressure.
DMT is not considered addictive, although some people may regularly abuse it. It does not cause any known withdrawal symptoms, including cravings, although there are some mild comedown effects that are similar to a hangover from alcohol.
There is no known overdose limit or lethal dose from DMT. However, the drug can still lead to situations in which people may take other substances that result in overdose, or cause hallucinations in which people accidentally hurt themselves or others. In order to avoid the risk of these long-term consequences, it is important to avoid all use of DMT and other hallucinogens.