DMT is a hallucinogen that packs a pretty fast and powerful trip.
Powerful as it is, it appears to have the lowest side effect profile compared with other psychedelic drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms (psilocybin).
Still, DMT carries some risks.
Healthline does not endorse the use of any illegal substances, and we recognize abstaining from them is always the safest approach. However, we believe in providing accessible and accurate information to reduce the harm that can occur when using.
It’s hard to predict how you’ll react to using DMT because it depends on several factors, including:
- your weight
- your body composition
- the state of your physical and mental health
- how much you take
- how you take it
People take DMT and other psychedelics to experience effects like euphoria, increased creativity, and spiritual insight. It’s known as the “spirit molecule,” after all.
Not everyone enjoys these effects, though. Some people report feeling like they’re having a near-death experience or traveling to another world or dimension (and not in a fun way).
Other negative side effects of DMT include:
- hallucinations, often involving elf-like creatures or alien beings
- distorted sense of time and body
- dilated pupils
- visual disturbances
- rapid rhythmic eye movements
- increased heart rate and blood pressure
DMT does come with some potential psychological and physical risks.
Like most hallucinogens, DMT has the potential to take you on a bad trip, which can be overwhelming and terrifying. People have reported being left shaken by a bad DMT trip for days, weeks, and even months.
Taking a higher dose increases your chances of a bad experience, as does using DMT if you’re in a negative frame of mind.
DMT may also worsen preexisting mental health conditions, particularly schizophrenia.
Hallucinogens also carry a small risk of persistent psychosis and hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Increased heart rate and blood pressure are both side effects of DMT, which can be bad news if you already have a heart condition or high blood pressure.
Before using DMT, it’s important to know how it interacts with other substances.
Using DMT with other hallucinogens like LSD or magic mushrooms can make an already strong trip even more intense.
Research on its long-term effects is limited. Based on the data available so far, DMT is unlikely to cause tolerance, dependence, or physical addiction.
People who regularly use DMT may crave it psychologically, but this is based on anecdotal reports.
In the United States, the DEA considers DMT a Schedule I controlled substance. This means it’s illegal for recreational use, is deemed to have no current medicinal use, and has a high potential for misuse. That’s the case in most other parts of the world, too.
However, things can get a little muddy when it comes to the plants that contain DMT, like those used to make ayahuasca. These are legal to possess in some countries, including Brazil, Peru, and Costa Rica.
If you’re going to use DMT, there are a few things you can do to reduce your chance of having a bad trip or negative reaction.
Keep the following in mind:
- Strength in numbers. Don’t use DMT alone. Do it in the company of people you trust.
- Find a buddy. Make sure you have at least one sober person around who can intervene if things take a turn.
- Consider your surroundings. Be sure to use it in a safe and comfortable place.
- Take a seat. Sit or lie down to reduce the risk of falling or injury while you’re tripping.
- Keep it simple. Don’t combine DMT with alcohol or other substances.
- Pick the right time. The effects of DMT can be pretty intense. As a result, it’s best to use it when you’re already in a positive state of mind.
- Know when to skip it. Avoid using DMT if you’re taking antidepressants, have a heart condition, or already have high blood pressure.
DMT may not produce as many side effects as other hallucinogens, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely safe.
Like other drugs, its effects can be unpredictable. No two experiences are exactly alike.
If you’re going to use DMT, take precautions to make the experience as safe as possible. Make sure you know about any potential interactions with other substances you use, including any medications.
Call 911 or head to the nearest emergency room if you or someone else experiences any concerning symptoms.
If you’re concerned about your substance use, free and confidential help is available by calling SAMHSA’s national helpline at 800-622-4357 (HELP).
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.