5-Methoxy-N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT): Patterns of use, motives for consumption, and acute subjective effects

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. Method: 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 (M=90%) reported moderate to strong mystical-type experiences (Mintensity=3.64/5, SD=1.11; e.g., ineffability, timelessness, awe/amazement, experience of pure being/awareness), and relatively fewer (M=37%) experienced very slight challenging experiences (Mintensity=0.95/5, SD=0.91; e.g., felt heart beating, 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.