Last published: August 24, 2023
What is DMT
DMT (Dimethyltryptamine) is a very strong psychedelic found in a number of animals and plants.1
Psychedelic drugs can affect all the senses, altering a person’s thinking, sense of time and emotions. Psychedelics can cause someone to hallucinate, seeing or hearing things that do not exist or are distorted.2
DMT is structurally similar to psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and is known to produce short-acting and intense visual hallucinations.2
What does DMT look like?
DMT is found in a variety of plants and is the psychoactive ingredient in the drug ayahuasca.3 In ayahuasca, a plant containing DMT is boiled together with a plant containing a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) such as harmaline, and the mixture is drunk.4
When produced synthetically DMT is a white crystalline powder.3
Dimitri, The spirit molecule, Changa, Fantasia
How is DMT used?
DMT can be:
- vaporised or smoked in a pipe
- drunk as part of an ayahuasca brew
Effects of DMT
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.
Psychedelics affect everyone differently, based on:
- size, weight and health
- whether the person is used to taking it
- whether other drugs are taken around the same time
- the amount taken
- the strength of the drug (varies from batch to batch)
- environment (where the drug is taken).
DMT affects everyone differently, but effects may include:
- a ‘rush’
- changes in mood
- increased sensitivity to bodily sensations (body aches, tingles, feelings of pain and pleasure, warmth and fatigue)6,7
- increased heart rate and blood pressure
- dilated pupils
- increased rectal temperature
- intense visual hallucination
DMT is most commonly smoked in Australia, with effects commencing almost straight away and finishing after around 30 minutes.5
Impact of mood and environment
Drugs that affect a person’s mental state (psychoactive drugs) can also have varied effects depending on a person’s mood (often called the ‘set’) or the environment they are in (the ‘setting’):
- Set: a person’s state of mind, previous encounters with psychedelic drugs, and expectations of what’s going to happen. For example, feelings of stress or anxiety before using DMT may result in an unpleasant experience (bad trip).8
- Setting: the environment in which someone consumes a psychedelic drug – whether it’s known and familiar, who they’re with, if they’re indoors or outdoors, the type of music and light. For example, using DMT in a calm, quiet and relaxed environment can lead to, or contribute to, a pleasant experience but being in a noisy, crowded place may result in a negative experience.8
- Being in a good state of mind, with trusted friends and a safe environment before taking DMT reduces the risk of having a ‘bad’ trip.
There have been no reports of toxic effects from the long-term use of DMT, aside from concerns regarding the cardiovascular impact of increased heart rate and blood pressure.1
DMT and mental health
DMT use can cause unpredictable negative reactions, such as:
- uncontrollable anxiety
- delusions and psychosis (particularly among people predisposed to mental health issues).
Some people may have negative experiences taking psychedelics, or experiences they find challenging. This can include experiencing:
- frightening or confronting hallucinations
- intense anxiety and confusion
- fear and paranoia.7,9
The most common long-term effect of psychedelic use is the ‘flashback’. Flashbacks are a re-experience of the drug and can occur days, weeks, months and even years later.7,9
Flashbacks can be triggered by the use of other drugs or by stress, fatigue or physical exercise. The flashback experience can range from being pleasant to causing severe feelings of anxiety. They are usually visual and last for a minute or two.7,9
Tolerance and dependence
It is thought that regular use does not produce tolerance.10
If your use of DMT is affecting your health, family, relationships, work, school, financial or other life situations, or you’re concerned about a loved one, you can find help and support.
Call our DrugInfo line on 1300 85 85 84 for confidential and non-judgmental information and advice.
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DMT is a schedule 9 drug and use of DMT is against the law. Federal and state laws provide penalties for possessing, using, making, selling, importing or exporting, or driving under the influence of DMT.11
- Carbonaro T Gatch M. Neuropharmacology of N,N-Dimethyltryptamine. Brain Research Bulletin. 2016;126.
- Nichols D. Psychedelics. Pharmacological Reviews 2016;68:264–355.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. Hallucinogen Drug Facts 2019 [cited 15.09.2021]. Available from: .
- Vazquez G Zarate C Brietzke E. Ketamine for Treatment-Resistant Depression. 1 ed2020.
- Cakic V Potkonyak J Marshall A. Dimethyltryptamine (DMT): subjective effects and patterns of use among Australian recreational users. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2010;111:30-7.
- Martin M. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy 1998 15.09.2021]. Available from: .
- Brands B Sproule B Marshman J. Drugs & Drug Abuse. 3rd ed. Ontario: Addiction Research Foundation; 1998.
- Nutt D. Drugs without the hot air : making sense of legal and illegal drugs. Cambridge: UIT Cambridge Ltd; 2012.
- Campbell A. The Australian Illicit Drug Guide. Melbourne: Black Inc; 2001.
- Winstock A Kaar S Borschmann R. Dimethyltryptamine (DMT): prevalence, user characteristics and abuse liability in a large global sample. Journal of Psychopharmacolgy 2014;28(1):49–54.
- Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Scheduling delegate's final decisions, July 2016 4.4 N,N-Dimethyltryptamine 2016 [17.09.2021].