Psychological side effects include an altered mood (either pleasant or distressing), distorted perceptions of space and time, and hallucinations. Physical effects can include increased heart rate, body temperature, and increased blood pressure.
What Are the Common Side Effects of DMT?
DMT’s side effects can vary, depending on how it is taken and on the individual variables of the person taking it. However, these are some of the most common side effects:[1–3]
DMT is known for producing realistic and vivid visual and auditory hallucinations. They run the gamut from being pleasant and relaxing to distressing and uncomfortable. Regardless of the nature of the hallucinations, they are often quite vivid.
DMT hallucinations are often short-lived, but intense, and they are colloquially referred to as breakthroughs or peaks.
Altered Perception of Time
People who take DMT report that they perceive the flow of time differently. They also say they feel a deep sense of connectedness with the universe, akin to a transcendental spiritual experience.
DMT’s effects only last for a few minutes, but due to the perceived disruption of time, people who take DMT report that their experiences feel much longer.
Depending on individual variables, some people become incredibly happy and euphoric when they take DMT, and others feel scared or anxious. People on DMT also report having difficulty perceiving the physical space around themselves.
Physical side effects of DMT include increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Dizziness, nausea, and vomiting are also common.
Can DMT Cause a Bad Trip?
A bad trip describes a negative or distressing experience while using DMT. This can result from any number of factors, like the person’s mental state when they took DMT, the physical setting they were in when they took it, the specific dose of the drug, and if any other drugs were consumed with DMT.
While it is very unlikely that DMT alone can cause an overdose, someone experiencing a bad trip may unintentionally hurt themselves or the people around them. However, there are isolated cases of DMT use being associated with seizures.
What Are DMT’s Long-Term Effects?
DMT’s long-term health effects are not fully understood, but the research that has been conducted on the topic has identified a few potential long-term issues:[1,6-8]
DMT has been implicated in the development of psychosis (experiencing persistent delusions and hallucinations), especially among people who have a family history of psychosis, or among people who have experienced a traumatic event and have some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder
With this condition, people experience ongoing visual disturbances like tracers, floaters and afterimages in their field of vision. These visual disturbances can develop even years after the last DMT use.
This occurs if there is too much serotonin in the brain, and drugs like DMT prevent the brain from naturally reabsorbing the serotonin neurotransmitter. If DMT interacts with antidepressants, the ensuing serotonin syndrome can be life-threatening.
What About Addiction to DMT?
Unlike substances like heroin and benzodiazepines, DMT is not currently thought to have a high potential for addiction, but the breakthroughs it induces can make it habit-forming for some people.
Because of this, regular DMT abuse can lead to compulsive use, solidifying an addiction for some people.
- N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), an endogenous hallucinogen: Past, present, and future research to determine its role and function Barker SA. N, Frontiers in Neuroscience. 2018;12(536).
- The therapeutic potentials of ayahuasca: Possible effects against various diseases of civilization Frecska E, Bokor P, Winkelman M., Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2016;7(35).
- Human brain effects of DMT assessed via EEG-fMRI Timmermann C, Roseman L, Haridas S, et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2023;120(13).
- A DMT trip “feels like dying” - and scientists now agree Bryant B., BBC Three. Published September 11, 2018. Accessed October 4, 2023.
- Prevalence and associations of classic psychedelic-related seizures in a population-based sample Simonsson O, Goldberg SB, Chambers R, Osika W, Long DM, Hendricks PS., Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2022;239:109586.
- The “endless trip” among the NPS users: Psychopathology and psychopharmacology in the hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder. A systematic review. Orsolini L, Papanti GD, De Berardis D, Guirguis A, Corkery JM, Schifano F. Frontiers in Psychiatry.
- Ayahuasca, dimethyltryptamine, and psychosis: a systematic review of human studies. dos Santos RG, Bouso JC, Hallak JEC, Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology. 2017;7(4):141-157.
- Potentiation of 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine-induced hyperthermia by harmaline and the involvement of activation of 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A receptors Jiang XL, Shen HW, Yu AM, Neuropharmacology. 2015;89:342-351.