Photo credit: RapidEye/ iStock/360/ Getty Images
Facts about DMT
- DMT is an abbreviation for Dimethyltryptamine, a hallucinogenic substance. DMT can be produced synthetically, but it's also found in a variety of plants and seeds.
- Taken orally, DMT will not have hallucinogenic effects on its own. DMT must be combined with an MAOI, a substance that inhibits enzymes in the human body so the psychedelic properties can be felt.
- For a less complicated road to hallucination, DMT users can smoke, inject or sniff the drug.
- When sniffed, injected or smoked, the effects of DMT are felt within seconds, with a "trip" that lasts about 45 minutes.
- Users who ingest DMT with an MAOI prolong the effects of the hallucinogen, and the "journey" can last for hours.
History of DMT
DMT is one of the ingredients in ayahuasca, a tea used in ritualistic ceremonies by shamans in ancient Peru and Peruvian cultures. The use of the tea is still ritualistic, and certain groups have the permission of the U.S. government to use the tea in religious ceremonies, though DMT is considered an illegal, controlled substance. The hallucinations caused by DMT make it a powerful tool in ritualistic ceremonies, and make it appealing to teenagers who are searching for some sort of truth about the world around them. Hallucinogenics are particularly attractive to artists and dreamers for the strong visual accompaniment to the physical effects of the drug.
Why parents should worry
DMT doesn't have common addictive properties of drugs like opiates. Like many psychedelics, the effects — or perceived effects — of the drug lessen with subsequent use. Teens may experiment with larger or more frequent doses in order to recapture their first experiences with the drug. Heart rate and blood pressure can be elevated during a DMT trip, and teens are more likely to engage in risky behavior when they're under the influence of controlled substances. Even more scary for some kids — and their parents — is that hallucinogenic drugs can trigger flashbacks well after the time the drug's actual effects have subsided.
How to spot DMT use
The relatively short life of the drug means teens can trip on DMT and be home by curfew without appearing impaired. Mentions of "trips" or "journeys" are one sign that teens are considering DMT use, as are references to fantasia or "the working man's lunch" — so called because of the short-lived effects. The draw of hallucinogenic drugs is often the way reality seems to morph and change while using the drug. Like other dangerous substances, DMT use may not be immediately detectable but will instead present itself as a shift in attitude, a disconnect with things the teen previously enjoyed and an increased interest in alternate realities.
the bottom line^
DMT use can be marginalized by teens and young adults because of the natural way it's been used ceremonially. Parents should remember that any use of controlled substances lowers teens' inhibitions and can cause lapses in judgment that have potential to be deadly. Keeping the lines of communication open about all drug use and the way drugs affect both bodies and minds is crucial when parenting teens.