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    Dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, is a substance that has captured the interest of many people around the world. Known for its mind-altering properties, it has been the subject of both recreational use and scientific research.

    In this article, we will explore what DMT is, its recreational and clinical use, its benefits and risks and its legal status in the United States.

    What is DMT?

    DMT is a naturally occurring compound found in certain plants and animals, including some tree barks and seeds. It is also produced by our own bodies in small amounts and can be made artificially in labs.

    DMT is a mind-altering substance in the hallucinogen family. Hallucinogenic drugs can change a person’s reality, causing dramatic changes in mood, thought and emotions.[1] It is sometimes called the “spirit molecule” because its use can result in special and spiritual experiences.[2] DMT causes hallucinogenic effects that start quickly and last for about 30 to 60 minutes, which is generally a shorter “trip” than other psychedelics.[3]

    Taking this substance can be a very powerful and amazing experience that feels spiritual. When people take it, they might feel like they’re in a different world or meeting special beings. It’s important to note that these experiences are different for everyone. Some people might not have the same kind of experience or feel the same way. It’s like having a dream that’s meaningful to one person but might not make sense to others.

    What does it look like?

    Pure DMT is usually found in solid crystal form. However, it more often comes as a white or yellow powder with an appearance similar to powdered sugar or fine salt. It also can be in the form of a yellowish-brown waxy substance, which is commonly referred to as “Dimitri.”[4]

    It is important to note that the substance itself does not possess any distinctive smell or taste.

    Other slang terms for this substance include “spice,” “the businessman’s trip,” “fantasia” and “the 45-minute psychosis.”

    It can be sniffed or injected, though it is most usually smoked or drank in the form of ayahuasca.[5] DMT vapes have also become increasingly available from underground sellers.[6]

    What are the effects of DMT?

    Psychedelics affect everyone differently, so reactions to them vary. 

    As noted earlier, people who use DMT recreationally are often looking for a spiritual experience, more self-awareness and/or creativity. It takes effect in the body within moments. People who use pure DMT often find it difficult to describe their experiences, but they include relaxation, enhancing their environment and feeling a loss or change of identity that makes them feel more connected to the world. Many have experienced seeing some sort of being that takes them on a spiritual journey.[8]

    Short-term physical effects of DMT use include increased blood pressure and heart rate, dilated pupils and dizziness. More serious effects can include seizures and muscle spasms.

    Like LSD and psilocybin, DMT can cause bad trips, causing a person to feel negative effects for days to months to years. “Near-death experiences” have also been reported by users. These are intense psychological and physical experiences that can cause a person to feel like they are dying.[9]

    DMT is not as well-researched or understood as other hallucinogens, leaving long-term effects largely unknown. The most common long-term effect is experiencing flashbacks which can be pleasant or cause anxiety. Flashbacks may be triggered by a number of factors, including the use of other substances, stress or feeling tired. These can occur a few days, weeks or even months later, usually lasting a couple of minutes. 

    Is it addictive?

    DMT is not considered to be addictive in the same way that substances like nicotine or opioids can be. It does not typically produce physical dependence or withdrawal symptoms when someone stops using it.  

    However, it’s important to know that DMT can have very strong effects on how people who use it see and understand things. Some people may find the experiences it creates to be really fascinating and want to use it more often. This could cause frequent, perhaps unsafe use.

    It is rarely known to cause overdoses on its own, but a few have been reported due to heightened physical effects that can cause cardiac arrests.[10] Because it is a hallucinogen, it can also cause people to unknowingly get into dangerous situations. 

    Clinical trials for mental health

    Scientists are conducting clinical trials to explore the potential benefits of DMT for mental health treatment. Researchers are investigating its effectiveness in managing conditions such as depression[11], anxiety[12], and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)[13]. These trials aim to discover if DMT can provide alternative treatment options for individuals who have not responded well to traditional therapies. 

    Research on DMT and mental health is ongoing, but it may worsen mental health issues like anxiety and depression for some. Individuals with conditions like schizophrenia should avoid DMT, as these can possibly increase symptoms of psychosis.[14]

    Protecting your loved one

    While some individuals are intrigued by the experiences DMT offers, it is important to remember the associated risks and its illegal status in many countries. As scientific research continues to explore its potential benefits, it is important for individuals, especially young people, to prioritize safety, legality, and informed decision-making. 

    If you know or suspect your loved one is using DMT, it’s helpful to sit down with them and understand why. Help them find mental health or substance use treatment if it becomes an issue for them. 

    Reducing risks when using substances is also incredibly important. If your loved one continues to use DMT or other psychedelic drugs, encourage them to do it in a safe and secure environment with people they trust.

    If your loved one is using psychedelics and you’re not sure what to do, contact our support services for help.