The Epidemiology of 5-methoxy- N, N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) Use: Benefits, Consequences, Patterns of Use, Subjective Effects, and Reasons for Consumption

J Psychopharmacol. 2018 Jul;32(7):779-792. doi: 10.1177/0269881118769063. Epub 2018 Apr 30.

Abstract

Background/aim: 5-Methoxy- N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) is a psychoactive compound found in several plants and in high concentrations in Bufo alvarius toad venom. Synthetic, toad, and plant-sourced 5-MeO-DMT are used for spiritual and recreational purposes and may have psychotherapeutic effects. However, the use of 5-MeO-DMT is not well understood. Therefore, we examined patterns of use, motivations for consumption, subjective effects, and potential benefits and consequences associated with 5-MeO-DMT use.

Methods: Using internet-based advertisements, 515 respondents ( Mage=35.4. SD=11.7; male=79%; White/Caucasian=86%; United States resident=42%) completed a web-based survey.

Results: Most respondents consumed 5-MeO-DMT infrequently (<once/year), for spiritual exploration, and had used less than four times in their lifetime. The majority (average of 90%) reported moderate-to-strong mystical-type experiences ( Mintensity=3.64, SD=1.11; range 0-5; e.g., ineffability, timelessness, awe/amazement, experience of pure being/awareness), and relatively fewer (average of 37%) experienced very slight challenging experiences ( Mintensity=0.95, SD=0.91; range 0-5; e.g., anxiousness, fear). Less than half (39%) reported repeated consumption during the same session, and very few reported drug craving/desire (8%), or legal (1%), medical (1%), or psychiatric (1%) problems related to use. Furthermore, of those who reported being diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, the majority reported improvements in symptoms following 5-MeO-DMT use, including improvements related to post-traumatic stress disorder (79%), depression (77%), anxiety (69%), and alcoholism (66%) or drug use disorder (60%).

Conclusion: Findings suggest that 5-MeO-DMT is used infrequently, predominantly for spiritual exploration, has low potential for addiction, and might have psychotherapeutic effects. Future research should examine the safety and pharmacokinetics of 5-MeO-DMT administration in humans using rigorous experimental designs.

Keywords: 5-MeO-DMT; 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine; Epidemiology; tryptamines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hallucinogens / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Methoxydimethyltryptamines / administration & dosage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Psychotropic Drugs / administration & dosage
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult

Substances

  • Hallucinogens
  • Methoxydimethyltryptamines
  • Psychotropic Drugs