DMT is illegal in many parts of the world. Therefore, we do not promote or condone the use of this compound. The information in this guide is aimed at educating potential users of dimethyltryptamine and helping them stay safe.
Break on through to the other side
In this article, we will be discussing one of the most fascinating chemically-induced states known to man.
There are several types of tryptamine-class substances – compounds known for their hallucinogenic effects. These include psilocybin/psilocin, ayahuasca (DMT combined with MAOIs), and a few types of DMT.
However, an occurrence known as “DMT breakthrough” seems to happen only with pure DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine or N,N-DMT), and is regarded as unattainable with these related substances.
Dimethyltryptamine is a chemical compound present in many different plants and animals (including us humans), but its precise function within our body still evades the comprehension of modern science.
It is theorized that DMT plays a vital role in spiritual/religious/visionary experiences, near-death experiences and dream states, but none of this is proven so far.
It has also long been speculated that the DMT molecule is produced in the brain, or more precisely in the enigmatic pineal gland, which is located in the exact center of the brain.
These claims are still unsubstantiated for humans, but in 2013 (1) scientists have successfully isolated DMT from a rat’s pineal gland, which lead some experts to assume that our mammalian brain also possesses the ability to produce this molecule.
What is a DMT breakthrough?
A DMT breakthrough refers to a very specific state within the DMT trip, which is obtainable through consuming adequate amounts of pure dimethyltryptamine.
Ingesting DMT with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), like in the amazonian brew ayahuasca, induces an experience that lasts several hours, and creates a truly profound insight about ourselves and the world around us.
A pure DMT experience, on the other hand, is considered a much more chaotic ordeal, and can rarely be understood with the first attempt, as it leaves the user both puzzled and astonished.
The breakthrough experience is characterized by a very brief duration, which is much shorter than any other type of psychedelic event.
A DMT trip also occurs internally, so the set and setting which are incredibly important for other psychedelics don’t really seem to play any significant role when using the pure compound.
What form of DMT creates a breakthrough?
A breakthrough experience can be achieved with pure N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (shortened as DMT, or N,N-DMT).
Chemical “cousins” of N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) include Bufotenin (5-HO-DMT), psilocybin (4-PO-DMT) and psilocin (4-HO-DMT), and 5-MeO-DMT.
All of these compounds are considered psychedelic, but for a breakthrough experience, N,N-Dimethyltryptamine is required.
DMT breakthrough dose
A precise quantity for a breakthrough experience seems somewhat difficult to determine.
In a study led by Dr. Rick Strassman (2), intravenous DMT was administered where 0.4 mg per kilogram was the maximum dose. At that dosage, some participants reported what is considered a breakthrough experience, while others didn’t quite get there, although their trip was still fully psychedelic.
It’s important to note that all participants in the study had prior experiences with psychedelic substances.
I weigh around 85 kg, so a dose for me in this study would be 34 mg of pure DMT.
In newer research from the Imperial College of London (3), which analyzed the similarities between DMT trips and near-death experiences, a maximum dose for all participants was 20 mg, no matter how much they weighed.
Terence Mckenna frequently mentioned that his go-to dose was 70 mg, but since he was an immensely experienced psychonaut, attempting to follow in his footsteps without a lot of prior experience with psychedelics in general (and pure DMT in particular) would be downright irresponsible.
A toxic dose of DMT for humans is still unknown, but animal studies suggest that a lethal dosage would require a truly colossal quantity, which is at least 20 times more than the quantities used in these government-sanctioned studies.
What is a DMT breakthrough like?
Even though the precise features of a breakthrough experience are considered to be tightly intertwined with the memories and the intellectual/spiritual predispositions of an individual, numerous users have reported witnessing phenomenons that are in nature very similar.
This is best described in the aforementioned study conducted by Dr. Rick Strassman, where the participants (who all had considerable experience with psychedelics) were given precise intravenous doses of DMT.
The research took place in the safe environment of a hospital and is characterized to begin as a kaleidoscopic portal-like voyage, which appears so real and subjectively lasts so long that the subject gradually loses all touch with their memory, sense of self, and the baseline reality of this existence.
One of the staples of psychedelic experiences is that they greatly affect our perception of time, and in the case of pure DMT, this trait seems to be even more emphasized.
A ten-minute trip is perceived as an extremely lengthy experience because the subjective sensation is telling you that you’re there for a very, very long time.
During this lightspeed kaleidoscopic “travel,” the user is exposed to unimaginable ever-changing geometric scenery, which appears so real and lasts so long that it usually results in the death of the ego.
This phenomenon is described as a sense that the mind is still conscious and active, but there is no longer a sense of self, or any personal memories and thoughts. The ego death is an important constituent for many different psychedelics on high doses.
What differentiates the breakthrough experience from other psychedelic trips is what comes after.
Once the supersonic voyage is completed, a sense of self is reported to reappear. A percentage of the participants reported arriving at what seemed to be a completely alternate plane of existence, which was inhabited by different sorts of benevolent sentient entities.
This other realm is also described as being made out of light, and that both the entire realm and the entities are constantly changing and transforming.
This unimaginable scenery leaves the user to experience astonishment and awe in the presence of this unseen universe. Transitory states of exhilaration and anxiety are noted, combined with a sense of disbelief and bewilderment.
Unlike the “portal” segment of the DMT voyage, the breakthrough part of the trip is usually very brief, and the user is quickly brought back to reality.
How long does a DMT breakthrough last?
The onset of pure DMT is extremely rapid and is usually felt instantly after inhalation.
The kaleidoscopic/geometric ego-death part of the trip (which isn’t considered as a part of the breakthrough), subjectively lasts for a really long time, even though the “real-life” duration is only a couple of minutes.
On the other hand, the breakthrough segment is very brief, both subjectively and objectively.
Users often report that they don’t have sufficient time to figure out anything in this puzzling realm, because it concludes too quickly.
Terence McKenna (who was probably the world’s greatest authority on pure DMT) even attempted to communicate with the entities in his numerous trips to this “reality”, but his exploration of this realm was interrupted by an aggressive brain tumor, which subsequently led to his death in 2000.
All in all, the entire duration of the trip is less than 10 minutes.
How to tell if you breakthrough on DMT?
The first section of the DMT trip can be considered as an intense and everlasting voyage, but the second part is what is known as the “breakthrough”.
The breakthrough is characterized by an alternate reality that is inhabited with different beings, so if you didn’t experience such a phenomenon, you haven’t really broken through.
Both the quantity of DMT and the consumption technique play an essential role in achieving the breakthrough, but the third factor is memory.
There are numerous reports of users failing to remember what happened during their DMT trips. This is attributed to the sheer novelty of the experience, because the mind cannot properly associate these alien sights and sensations, and is therefore unable to integrate those happenings into working memory.
For this reason, it is always best to gradually explore this realm and avoid attempting the breakthrough dose on the first couple of tries, so the brain has time to familiarize itself with these otherworldly concepts.
Which device to use when smoking DMT to breakthrough?
DMT is usually consumed with a pipe (colloquially known as a crack/meth pipe), and because the smoke is very harsh on the throat and lungs, it is advised to breathe deeply for a few minutes before taking the hit.
Oxygenation prior to the hit decreases the chance of a coughing fit, and also temporarily increases lung capacity.
Check out this video from DrugsLab to see how to properly inhale dimethyltryptamine.
Unlike the previously mentioned studies where the DMT was administered intravenously, using direct heat on the pipe will most likely scorch a portion of the DMT, resulting in a weaker trip.
This effect should be considered when determining your dose, but it’s still best to start low (10 mg – 15 mg), and on later trips slowly work your way up.
Using vapor-producing devices is considered as the best possible way for consuming DMT, and since combustion doesn’t occur, this method is much less harsh on the lungs, and it doesn’t burn away and waste any of the DMT.
The ideal temperature for vaporizing dimethyltryptamine ranges from around 176°C (350°F) to 220°C (428°F).
Is DMT breakthrough scary?
A high dose of pure DMT can’t really be considered as a “classical” frightening experience (which sometimes occurs with other types of psychedelics), but the perpetual astral voyage that precedes the breakthrough experience is often described as extremely overwhelming and intense, and can result in a complete separation of the mind from the body.
The overall vibe of the actual breakthrough is generally described as a non-threatening atmosphere, although the unimaginable scenery combined with the strange life forms produces a mixture of amazement, astonishment, and exhilaration.
In a nutshell, consuming large doses of DMT without prior training with other “gentler” forms of psychedelics would be completely irresponsible, and quite possibly genuinely scary.
DMT breakthrough tips
It’s recommended not to attempt the breakthrough dose the first couple of times when doing pure DMT, because the user should gradually get accustomed to the extremely intense effects that this substance produces.
Also, if you’re using a pipe to consume DMT, be aware that the smoke is very harsh, and is sort of reminiscent of burning plastic.
Attempting to inhale the full “breakthrough” dose without prior experiences with this nasty type of smoke can induce coughing fits or even vomiting, which is something that should definitely be avoided. Using a vaporizer is far more lung/throat-friendly.
The trip itself is intense enough, and the user should be able to comfortably lay down and direct her/his attention inward.
Another important factor is the sitter. A breakthrough dose will usually result in a complete sensory blackout, where the user is completely oblivious to her/his surroundings.
While it’s far more frequent that the user will remain completely dormant during the entire experience, there have been instances of movement. So in case that happens, the sitter’s task is to restrain the user until the trip is over, preventing any accidental and clumsy injuries from occurring.
The hot pipe can also cause accidental burning because it’s not rare for the user to lose consciousness quite rapidly after the last hit. The sitter’s job is to prevent this.
Also, it’s very important to set your intentions straight.
This type of experience can induce a powerful shift in consciousness, so having a clear head prior to the trip can really help with the subsequent integration.
Using a voice recorder or writing about the experience is also beneficial because there have been instances of users failing to remember what was perceived as time went on.
Putting the trip into words will be difficult enough, but this will give you a clearer picture of what exactly went down.
Since science hasn’t exactly figured out what happens in the brain when DMT is administered, it is still difficult to say with any level of certainty how real (or unreal) the breakthrough experience is.
What remains undeniable is that a DMT trip shows us a glimpse of something that’s completely different from our baseline perception of reality, and that safe and responsible use of psychedelics regularly produces beneficial effects on the human mind.
Note: DMT should be avoided by anyone who suffers from heart conditions, and shouldn’t be mixed with medications such as SSRI’s, appetite suppressants, CNS depressants, antihistamines, vasodilators, barbiturates, antipsychotics, alcohol, etc. If you’re using any medications, please perform your due diligence, and inform yourself about the potential risks.
- Barker S, Borjigin J, Lomnicka I, Strassman R; LC/MS/MS analysis of the endogenous dimethyltryptamine hallucinogens, their precursors, and major metabolites in rat pineal gland microdialysate; 2013 Dec; 1690-700
- Andrew R. Gallimore, Rick J. Strassman; A Model for the Application of Target-Controlled Intravenous Infusion for a Prolonged Immersive DMT Psychedelic Experience; 2016; 7: 211
- Christopher Timmermann, Leor Roseman, Luke Williams, David Erritzoe, Charlotte Martial, Héléna Cassol, Steven Laureys, David Nutt1 and Robin Carhart-Harris; DMT Models the Near-Death Experience; August 2018