What does it look like?
- A white crystalline powder or solid, when in its pure form
- A yellow, orange or pink powder or solid, when not pure – which is more common
- A brownish/green herbal mixture, when mixed with herbs to make changa
- A brownish/red liquid when part of an ayahuasca brew
What does it taste/smell like?
DMT has a very strong and unusual smell and taste which people have likened to burnt plastic and new shoes.
DMT can be injected, smoked or snorted.
Because DMT is a very harsh and potent drug to smoke, it is sometimes mixed with herbs – such as ayahuasca – to make changa. Each batch of changa is different depending on what herbs are used, so strengths vary.
The South American plant, chacruna, contains DMT and is sometimes mixed with the ayahuasca plant to make the shamanic brew, ayahuasca.
DMT can be prepared for injecting, and this is particularly dangerous.
DMT can be crushed up into a powder and snorted.
How does it make you feel?
DMT is known for giving users a very intense ‘trip’ – the name given to the experience of taking psychedelic drugs.
The world appears very distorted when you trip on DMT: colours, sounds, objects and even time can seem very strange, and some people experience out-of-body experiences.
Taking DMT can make you:
- see and hear things that aren’t there (hallucinate), which might be a good or bad experience
- feel like time and movement is speeding up or slowing down
- feel like colours and sounds are distorted, this is sometimes called ‘visuals’
- have double vision
- feel like you’re having an out-of-body experience
How does it make people behave?
As with any hallucinogenic drug, people can react unpredictably when they’re on DMT.
Some users have reported feeling like they’re going through a near death experience, and become very quiet and inward-looking as a result.
Some people report not being to move while they’re on DMT.
How long the effects last and the drug stays in your system depends on how much you’ve taken, your size, whether you’ve eaten and what other drugs you may have also taken.
To kick in
When smoked, DMT kicks in very quickly. When taken as part of an ayahuasca ceremony, it can take much longer to take effect.
How long it lasts
DMT trips are known for being extremely intense but also very short – sometimes lasting only a few minutes. When taken as part of an ayahuasca ceremony, a DMT trip can last several hours.
Physical health risks
Lots of indigenous peoples in South America use drinks or food that contain DMT as part of their culture – the best known example is ayahuasca ceremonies.
For this reason, some people think DMT is spiritual and therefore safe, bit it is still a chemical hallucinogen.
This means it can:
- raise your blood pressure
- raise your heart rate
- be harmful to those with a pre-existing heart condition
- cause nausea and vomiting, as a result of intoxication
Mental health risks
DMT can produce very unpredictable – and sometimes very frightening – effects, which feed off a person's imagination.
If panic sets in, the experience can be scary and confusing.
Taking a hallucinogen like DMT can:
Lead to flashbacks, this is when part of the trip is subsequently relived after the original experience.
Be especially serious for someone with a history of mental health problems. It could trigger a problem for someone who didn’t know they had a predisposition to mental health problems.
Lead to the user harming him or herself if the trip goes bad – so it’s probably best to avoid taking DMT if you're in a bad or anxious mood.
Lead to unpleasant and emotional effects that could last for days after taking the drug.
What is DMT cut with?
DMT is rare and there’s little evidence of how pure it is.
Can you get addicted?
There’s no evidence to suggest that DMT is addictive, but you can become tolerant to its effects. This means you need to take more of it to get the same effect as before.
This is a Class A drug, which means it's illegal to have for yourself, give away or sell.
Possession can get you up to 7 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.
Supplying someone else, even your friends, can get you life in prison, an unlimited fine or both.
Like drink-driving, driving when high is dangerous and illegal. If you’re caught driving under the influence, you may receive a heavy fine, driving ban, or prison sentence.
If the police catch people supplying illegal drugs in a home, club, bar or hostel, they can potentially prosecute the landlord, club owner or any other person concerned in the management of the premises.