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What is DMT: Side Effects, Facts, and Health Risks

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Written by DeLand Treatment Solutions, Medically Reviewed by Deland Treatment June 20, 2024

What is DMT: Side Effects, Facts, and Health Risks

DMT or DIMETHYLTRYPTAMINE is one of the most powerful psychedelic drugs that has been the subject of research and experimentation by scientists, explorers, and spiritual practitioners. While possessing short-lived and potentially overwhelmingly powerful effects, it is nicknamed the ‘spirit molecule. ’

What is DMT?

DMT is a psychoactive, naturally occurring substance that forms part of the tryptamine class of drugs. It resembles serotonin in its structure, which is a hormone that is involved in moderating mood and perceptive capabilities. DMT occurs naturally in some plants and animals and is synthesized by the human brain though its purpose is still a matter of discussion in the scientific community.

DMT in its original form is an off-white crystalline compound and can be produced synthetically in a laboratory setting. It is commonly taken by smoking or vaporizing and delivers potent psychedelic effects that begin almost instantly, peaking at around 5-15 minutes in length. An MAOI commonly accompanies the oral use of DMT to create the sacramental concoction Ayahuasca, which intensifies and lengthens the experience to a few hours.

History and Cultural Context

DMT has a storied past, particularly among the traditional people of South America, especially the Amazonian tribes, where it is used in religious ceremonies as part of Ayahuasca. Ayuasca has been employed for spiritual, curative, diagnostic, and visionary purposes primarily by indigenous shamans during religious rituals since pre-Columbian times. Such activities have been inherent in their socio-cultural and religious beliefs and traditions.

The Western world’s acquaintance with DMT began in the mid-century when scientists began investigating this substance. DMT was one of the first psychoactive plants to be investigated by the famous ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes and chemist Albert Hofmann, who discovered LSD. More recently, it has been used in the psychedelic counterculture of the latter decades, largely for its potential to produce profound mystical states.

How DMT Works

Mechanism of Action

DMT’s action is mediated through its interaction with the serotonin receptors in the brain, with special reference to 5-HT 2A receptors. This interaction results in a constant and significant change in the sensory experience and the cognitive and emotional states. Different from other psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin which can take several hours, DMT’s effects are comparatively short-lived as it takes about fifteen to twenty minutes at most when smoked or vaporized to kick into effect.

This brief and profound change has been described as a ‘launch into another mode of awareness’ which supports the rocket hypothesis. They often describe visual and/or auditory actualization, distortion in time perception, spirit beings, or other paranormal phenomena.

Experience and Effects

The DMT experience has been referred to as being otherworldly and ineffable.

  • Visual and Auditory Hallucinations: It may consist of such elements as geometric shapes of various levels of complexity, bright colors, and meetings with spirits or other characters.
  • Sense of Transcendence: Others have testified that it feels like they are being taken to an entirely new world or dimension.
  • Altered Sense of Time: Time might appear to be relative, either stretching and growing thinner or even ceasing to exist at all.
  • Emotional Intensity: It also has positive and negative impacts on patients, from happiness all the way to fear.
  • The experienced effects may also differ for various doses, methods of administration, the user’s state of mind, or the surroundings during the DMT session.

Side Effects of DMT

Side Effects of DMT

Immediate Physical Side Effects

  • Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure: These cardiovascular effects are quite general with many psychedelics and are especially worrisome for people with cardiac issues.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: This is even more apparent when the DMT is combined with the Ayahuasca brew since it has emetic properties.
  • Dizziness and Coordination Issues: Disturbance in Balance or Dizziness.

Psychological Side Effects

  • Intense Experiences: Nevertheless, the overwhelming intensity of the DMT experience may cause anxiety, paranoia, or even panic attacks, particularly in novices.
  • Flashbacks: Users also share that they might experience what is known as a flashback or a spontaneous replay of some parts of the DMT trip later on.
  • Potential for Psychosis: There is a risk of triggering mental disorders, including psychosis in a candidate who might be prone to them.

Facts About DMT

Legality and Accessibility

DMT has not been legal in some countries, while in others there are uncertainties as to its legalization status. DMT is banned in most global regions and the United States, specifically, it falls under Schedule Controlled Substance so its possession, sale, or use is prohibited. However, some countries have less stringent policies, especially concerning legalistic restrictions such as the use of Ayahuasca in religious or ceremonial contexts.

Scientific Research

For the time being, the study of this substance is limited, but preliminary discoveries indicate that DMT provides a lot of potential for further investigation. Research has also been done on the examination of its possible uses in samaritan practice, including its efficacy in curing ailments like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Other researchers using DMT are using the compound to explore the potentiality of consciousness and spiritual dimensions, based on its capability of triggering mystical states.

Health Risks of DMT

Physical Health Risks

  • Cardiovascular Complications: The possible consequences that can occur due to the observed changes in the rate, including heart and blood pressure, may be severe for people with existing illnesses, affecting the heart.
  • Vomiting and Dehydration: Especially with Ayahuasca, after the purging takes place, one may dehydrate if they do not administer enough water.
  • Interactions with Medications: In terms of possible drug interactions, DMT may combine negatively with other substances that act on the serotonin receptors, especially with the classes of antidepressants, to cause serious conditions such as serotonin syndrome.

Mental Health Risks

  • Long-Term Psychological Impact: A few users have noted long-lasting hallucination effects, commonly referred to as Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder or HPPD after using DMT.
  • Triggering Mental Health Conditions: DMT can interact with other mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, or psychosis, making them worse or even causing them in some individuals.
  • Integration Challenges: One main issue with DMT, due to the extremely high and intense nature of its experience, is that the information and cognitive processing become a problem in terms of easily assimilating back into everyday life, which can be psychologically disruptive.

Safety and Reduction of Risk

Guidelines for Safe Use

  • Set and Setting: Make sure you are surrounded by safe and familiar people and feel as free and relaxed as possible. The environment that surrounds the people and their psychological and physiological state can play a crucial role in determining the encounter.
  • Dosage: It is advisable to begin by administering a small amount of the substance to see how sensitized your body is to DMT. It also has to be said that while the effects of the substance may be pleasant at low doses, the intensity of the experience can rise significantly with higher doses.
  • Supportive Environment: Ideally, a sober friend or family member should be chosen to be with the person throughout the trip to hold their hand through it just in case the situation gets tough.

Harm Reduction Strategies

  • Trip Sitter: The presence of a knowledgeable, non-drinking person will help guide and support the participant through the experience.
  • Mental Preparation: Some of the pre-service practices include performing operations like meditation or mindfulness that make one mentally and emotionally fit for the experience.
  • Post-Experience Integration: Take some time to reflect on and integrate the experience into your daily life. Seeking support from a therapist or integration counselor can be beneficial.

DMT is a powerful and somewhat enigmatic substance, one that opens a fascinating window into consciousness and the human psyche. Despite its ability to offer one of the most powerful and meaningful journeys with one’s self, it also comes with significant risks, especially for those with chronic medical conditions or psychological disorders.

DMT Addiction Treatment in DeLand

Employing the required respect, care, and knowledge of DMT, its benefits, adverse effects, and risks, individuals have a chance to open new doors to opportunities without risking their health or life. In the future, as more work is done on studying the effects and mechanisms of DMT, its possible application in healing may be discovered along with other secrets of the human brain.

Find DMT Addiction Treatment in DeLand, FL

If you are suffering from negative side effects from dimethyltryptamine but are unable to quit the medication, we can help you recover control. Our addiction treatment programs are tailored to each client’s particular needs, resulting in greater outcomes. To find out more, contact (386) 866-8689 or visit DeLand Treatment Solutions today.

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