Subjective effects of DMT


N,N-Dimethyltryptamine molecule diagram.
This article is part of an ongoing project to apply the subjective effect index to specific psychoactive substances in order to document their phenomenological effects in a comprehensive and formalised manner. This will initially be achieved by the sites founder employing her first-hand knowledge of hallucinogenic substances and the subjective effects they induce. Eventually we will establish a more refined methodology by employing a small team ingesting these substances at a range of dosages, and documenting their experiences through the use of standardized trip reports using our SEI form system. We will then analyse this collected data in order to further detail and substantiate the effects that are induced at specific dosage ranges, their levels of intensity, style variations, and approximate frequency of occurrence. DMT is a smokeable psychedelic hallucinogen within the tryptamine chemical class. It is also found as a naturally occurring byproduct within a huge variety of plants and animals. The substance itself induces a period of brief but extremely intense psychedelia alongside a disproportionate amount of hallucinatory effects in comparison to that of other more traditional psychedelics, such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, and mescaline. As this article will exclusively focus on this compound's subjective effects, if you would like to learn more about DMT's chemistry, pharmacology, history, legality, and potential dangers, then please see its PsychonautWiki article here.


It is important to note that the duration listed above applies only to DMT that is being smoked or vaporised. This is because DMT is not active through oral ingestion unless an MAOI or an RIMA, such as syrian rue or B. caapi vine, is consumed approximately 30 - 60 minutes prior. This substantially changes the subjective effect profile of the compound and is referred to as "ayahuasca" or "pharmahuasca", depending on whether it is made using DMT-containing plant material or pure DMT. Although DMT can technically be active by itself through insufflation, rectal administration, or sublingual absorption, these routes of administration are typically much less effective and therefore extremely uncommon. The duration of DMT trips can often be felt to be split into four separate stages which feel subjectively distinct from one another. Depending on the dosage consumed, the user may find themselves progressing through all of these stages at heavier dosages or they may find themselves skipping over stage 2 and/or 3 at lower dosages. These stages are described and documented below.

1. Taking off

The first stage of a DMT trip is the onset, which leads into what is colloquially referred to as "breaking through". There seem to be several different styles by which the breakthrough presents itself to the drug user. As the user smokes DMT, it typically begins with a sudden onset of distinct visual enhancements, which are immediately followed by high-level geometry and a warm tingling sensation. At higher dosages, the user may find that the device which they are using to smoke their DMT has become an incomprehensible mass of geometry which is seemingly quite difficult to put down or pass to nearest person. This is sometimes also accompanied by the sounds of soft crackling sound and an extended tone, which quickly increases in volume and pitch along with the visual intensity.
DMT drone replication
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The sound (which is replicated above) typically becomes all-enveloping and abruptly ends as one of several different “take off” options are experienced. These include, but are not limited to:
  • increasingly intense geometry, which becomes so all-enveloping that the visible environment is blocked out and replaced.
  • feelings of suddenly being pushed through and onto the other side of a membrane.
  • the environment forming into a geometry-filled tunnel, which the user moves into as it widens and encompasses their vision.
  • the environment splitting into separated sections while leaving a gaping chasm filled with high level geometry as the user separates from their body and is then catapulted directly into it at a high speed.
This process of "taking off" typically occurs within the range of about 30 seconds to a minute, and leads directly onto the second stage of a DMT trip.

2. The waiting room

Almost immediately after a person has smoked enough DMT to have “taken off”, they will sometimes find themselves spending approximately 10 - 30 seconds in what is commonly described to feel like a psychedelic “waiting room”. In terms of its appearance, it can take any form but most commonly presents itself as a tunnel, room, or space that is comprised of fast moving geometry. This feels distinctively different from the main bulk of the trip to such an extent that it has led me to speculate that it is potentially some sort of psychedelic loading screen, during which the upcoming trip is being generated and planned out by the subconscious mind. Once this stage is over, the user will transition next into the most impressive stage of the experience. However, in certain cases the user will find themselves stuck within this waiting room and may even experience entities telling them that they are not yet ready to proceed past it. It is also important to note that although relatively common in its occurrence, the waiting room is the least consistent stage of a DMT trip to manifest itself as many users will never experience it all and simply find their experiences skip over it altogether.

3. The other side

Namaste by Luke Brown - This image serves as an accurate replication of a DMT entity.
Once the waiting period is over, the user will feel that they have broken through onto the "other side". It is here where an incredibly wide variety of potential hallucinatory content can manifest itself. However, this intensified stage will still follow consistent themes and archetypes as reported by many people who experience the substance. These themes generally consist of visiting a hallucinated alternate reality that is sometimes reported to feel more real than everyday life. In terms of their visual aesthetic, these hallucinatory spaces usually consist of incomprehensibly complex psychedelic geometry that is condensed into scenes, such as endless varieties of landscapes, rooms, buildings, cities, or spaces. Within these settings, there are also often single or multiple autonomous entities within the user's line of sight. The entities often appear to have been waiting for the user's arrival and are usually completely unphased by the tripper’s sudden appearance, although they will sometimes act surprised or even completely unaware of this arrival. In terms of the entities' behaviour, they often enthusiastically greet and welcome the user, giving off a sense that they are deeply concerned with what they have to show the user in the short amount of time that they have before the effects of the drug wear off. It is here that they may start to communicate with the user using a variety of different methods such as by simple spoken language, directly manipulating what the person can see and view, telepathically beaming information into their thoughts, using a visual language comprised of innately understandable geometric linguistic and conceptual meaning, or any combination of the above. Through these means, entities will seemingly attempt to teach the user a message or show them facets of the environment in which they inhabit. This message is often personal advice related to the user's life or emotional well-being, but is also often something that is nonsensical or only applies to the logic of the universe in which it was taught in. These entities will often dubiously present themselves as all-knowing, and although they can take any visual form, some visual archetypes are more commonly experienced. These archetypes include humanoids, aliens, elves, insectoids, giant spheres, beings of light, plants, jesters, and complex robotic machines. At this point it is common for the tripper (unless they are very experienced) to be completely overwhelmed by the nature of what is happening to them, despite feeling relatively sober from a cognitive standpoint. This will sometimes result in the entities encouraging the user to stay calm, not to give into astonishment, and to simply try to pay attention to what is happening. However, although they are common it is worth noting that these entity filled hallucinatory environments do not necessarily occur for every person and are not entirely consistent in their manifestation between trips. For example, a certain number of people do not seem to experience hallucinations at all and instead simply find themselves engulfed in all-encompassing high-level geometry during this stage of the DMT trip. Other people however may experience these hallucinations most of the time, some of the time, or rarely, if at all. After 2 - 10 minutes of this experience, the DMT trip will begin to wear off while moving into its fourth and final stage.

4. Coming down

The final stage is experienced as the sensation of either being pulled further and further away from the scenario in which the user was placed or as the hallucinations becoming increasingly vague and ill-defined until they simply disappear. During this process, the entities will sometimes say goodbye and encourage the person to return if given the chance. Once this is over, the user immediately finds themselves back in reality with strong level 4 - 5 visual geometry that begins to rapidly fade. They may also find that they immediately begin to forget the details of the experience in a manner which feels identical to that of the amnesia which often occurs after waking from a dream. This can usually be combatted through the use of taking notes, using an audio recorder, or simply telling a nearby person the details of what happened. Alongside of this, these effects are also frequently accompanied by a sense of euphoria and awe that washes over the person's mind and body. The moderate to mild geometry typically persists for a further 5 - 10 minutes before gradually disappearing completely, leaving a strong body high that can stay for up to an hour. This afterglow typically feels like a warm fuzziness and often leaves behind a sense of rejuvenation, well being, and mental clarity that can last for hours, days, or even weeks after the trip.

Intensity Scale

This intensity scale breaks the subjective effects of DMT into six distinct levels, in which each tier typically contains an expanding list of effects that proportionally intensify relative to the dosage consumed. The approximate frequency of occurrence is also listed alongside each effect. For an explanation of the terms used within this frequency measuring system, please see the article here. Furthermore, it is worth noting that although the dosages listed here are a useful average, the DMT dosage required to reach a particular range of effects seems to vary somewhat between individuals depending on body weight and their respective neurochemistry.

1. Subtle (2 - 10 mg)

A subtle DMT experience is the level at which effects produced by the substance first become apparent. This is typically comprised of a range of benign sensory and cognitive effects such as visual enhancements, visual distortions, and cognitive alterations. At this level, the user may have to pay close attention in order to recognize the effects of the substance, which may not demand their attention. This experience is distinct from a placebo effect, yet mild enough that the user can easily ignore it by focusing on the surrounding environment. At most, a subtle DMT trip may result an incredibly mild version of the "take off" stage of the experience, while entirely skipping over stages two and three. The specific subtle effects which generally occur at this level of intensity are described and documented within their own dedicated articles, listed below:



2. Mild (10 - 20 mg)

At this level, the effects of DMT typically include a range of weak but noticeable effects such as visual enhancements, visual distortions, mild geometry, cognitive alterations, and bodily sensations such as a warm fuzzy tingling sensation that encompasses the body. Although these effects have become noticeable and clearly distinct from sobriety, they will usually remain at least partially in the background of a person's awareness. This level can, therefore, be mostly ignored by directing one's focus towards other things such as tasks or the external environment. At most, a mild DMT trip may result in a distinct version of the "take off" stage of the experience, while entirely skipping over stages two and three. The specific mild effects which generally occur at this level of intensity are described and documented within their own dedicated articles, each of which are listed below:



3. Distinct (20 - 40 mg)

At this level, the effects of DMT begin to become much more pronounced in their psychedelia. These typically include a range of well-defined effects such as visual enhancements, visual distortions, complex geometry, mild hallucinatory states, cognitive effects, and bodily sensations. In terms of the geometry, it can be comprehensively described through its style variations as intricate in complexity, abstract in form, equally organic and digital in feel, structured in organization, brightly lit, multicoloured in scheme, glossy in shading, equal in sharp and soft edges, large in size, fast in speed, smooth in motion, equal in rounded and angular corners, immersive in depth and consistent in its intensity. At higher doses, it is significantly more likely to result in states of level 8B visual geometry over level 8A. It is also worth noting that the geometry induced by smokeable DMT is considered by many to be the most profoundly intricate and complex form of visual geometry found within the entirety of the psychedelic experience. In comparison to ayahuasca, it is significantly more digital in appearance and contains a colour scheme which is similar to LSD's alongside of a structured style which resembles that of psilocybin geometry. As for the body high, its at this level that the spontaneous bodily sensations become pronounced enough to manifest themselves fully. This can be described as feeling a warm, pleasurable, and all-encompassing glow or tingling feeling that is present across the person's entire body. It typically maintains a consistent presence that quickly rises with the onset and hits its limit once the peak has been reached. It is capable of becoming very powerful at higher doses and can remain for up to half an hour after the experience itself has ended. A distinct DMT experience is the level at which the effects and the nature of the substance become clear and defined enough that ignoring its action becomes difficult. At this level, the person will still generally just about be able to partake in normal behaviours and remain functional while able to communicate. Depending on the person's level of experience, the effects can be allowed to occupy a predominant role within the person's perception, or they may be ignored and made somewhat secondary to other chosen activities. At most, a distinct DMT trip may result in a well defined "take off" followed by an ill defined version of the "waiting room", while entirely skipping over stage three. The specific distinct effects which generally occur at this level of intensity are described and documented within their own dedicated articles, each of which are listed below:



4. Strong (40 - 60 mg)

At this level, the effects of DMT begin to become primarily characterised by states such as all-encompassing geometry and hallucinatory content. It is here where a person will typically feel as if they have broken through into the hallucinatory space which was described within the "other side" subsection further up this article. It is worth noting that for many although not all people, DMT seems to produce high-level internal hallucinations at this dosage range or above more consistently than that of any other psychedelic. These can be comprehensively described through their style variations as lucid in believability, interactive in style, new experiences in content, autonomous in controllability, and geometry-based in style. They are also accompanied by other hallucinatory effects such as autonomous entities, settings, and scenarios. In terms of their content, these hallucinations include a near-infinite variety of themes that can include concepts which are often personal, religious, spiritual, futuristic, magical, surreal, nonsensical, or transcendental in their nature. Although they are substantially less common than internal hallucinations, external hallucinations can also occasionally occur at heavy dosages of DMT. These typically consist of a mixture of solid and geometry based hallucinations of either real objects within the external environment "coming to life" and acting on their own accord, the entirety of the environment changing its aesthetic into a characteristically different appearance, or entirely new things such as the appearance of autonomous entities. However, it is important to note that despite this effect being more common under the influence of DMT in comparison to that of other psychedelics, it is still quite uncommon and may never be experienced even by regular users. Despite the intensity of these hallucinations, during this dosage range, the user will still often be able to maintain a sense of partial connection to their physical body despite feeling as if they are primarily located within the hallucinatory space which they are experiencing. Although this feeling will usually compel the person to close their eyes and ignore the environment around them, if the user forces their eyes open midway through the trip they will likely find themselves leaving the hallucinatory space and experiencing a variety of powerful although comparitively reduced visual effects which are applied to the environment around them. These will typically include strong visual distortions and highly complex geometry that almost entirely blocks out the external environment. Upon reclosing their eyes again, the user may find themselves placed directly back into the same hallucinatory scenario or they may find themselves simply experiencing high level geometry while completely unable to re-enter the hallucination. In regards to the person's cognition and general state of mind, many people report that during the lower level DMT breakthroughs experienced at this dosage range, that they feel surprisingly lucid and clear headed in comparison to a dosage of equivalent intensity from that of a more common psychedelic such as psilocybin, mescaline, or LSD. However, the standard insightful and therapeutic cognitie effects which are heavily associated with psychedelic experience do also seem to be either entirely absent or signifigantly reduced in their intensity. This is likely to be a result of the way in which DMT's extremely short duration simply does not allow the person enough time to be exposed to such effects in a manner which would result in useful contemplation arising out of them. A strong DMT experience is the level at which the effects become powerful enough to render the person undergoing them as mostly incapable of functioning, interacting normally, or thinking in a sober manner. At this level, the effects of the substance are clear and can no longer be ignored in any capacity, leaving the user entirely engaged in the experience whether they wish to be or not. In terms of its stages, a strong DMT trip will usually result in all of aforementioned stages of the experience but with the "other side" being distinctly present although ever so slightly less well defined than it can potentially become at higher dosages. The specific strong effects which generally occur at this level of intensity are described and documented within their own dedicated articles, each of which are listed below:




5. Heavy (60 - 80 mg)

A heavy psychedelic experience is the level at which the practical upper limit of what the substance is capable of producing is reached. At this level, the user will be rendered incapable of functioning and communicating in a manner which will usually leave them either completely disconnected from their environment or at least extremely disorientated. Heavy dosages of psychedelics typically induce a wide range of all-consuming effects such breaking through into a space which is comprised of unfathomably complex geometric forms and internal hallucinations, a complete loss of the person's sense of self or ego, delusions, occasionally life-changing spiritual or transpersonal experiences, and powerful cognitive effects. The specific heavy effects which generally occur at this level of intensity are described and documented within their own dedicated articles, each of which are listed below:




6. Extreme (80 - 100 mg +)

An extreme DMT experience is the level at which the effects have become so powerful and pronounced that the person will typically be rendered unconscious and amnesic, occassionally with exaggerated and uncomfortable physical side effects. At this level, the person will experience the effects typically associated with the previously described heavy dosage during the a brief few seconds of the onset and and for up to several minutes during the offset of their trip. Throughout the peak, however, they will simply ego death, black out, and become unconscious for a prolonged period of time that can range anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour. Although extreme psychedelic states may be attractive to certain individuals, its important to consider that this level of intensity is both less therapeutic and explorative than the previous levels. However, it is also worth noting that in comparison to the equivalent states that can be experienced on other psychedelics, DMT is considerably less dangerous at this dosage range due to its extremely short duration and lack of intense physical side effects.

Personal Commentary

To do list:

  • mention in stages how at high enough dosages the person may be ego deathing
  • mention amnesia in the comedown stage
  • add some effect links to the stage section
  • ensure all effects listed on pw article are here too
  • mention ego death and spiritual experiences in the heavy section
  • mention potential anxiety for unexperienced users in strong




The following people contributed to the content of this article: