The Epidemiology of 5-methoxy- N, N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) use: Benefits, consequences, patterns of use, subjective effects, and reasons for consumption.
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 ( M(age)=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 ( M(intensity)=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 ( M(intensity)=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.