What my first DMT trip taught me about life
Written by Danté Jordan
If you’re curious about DMT and how intense the experience might be, but don’t have a friend to ask about it, I’m here to be that homie.
Despite its fear factors, I tried DMT because I’ve always been curious about alternative plant medications and psychedelics, and how their healing effects can be used for personal growth.
I didn’t have the opportunity to try DMT until I left the Bible Belt and moved to Seattle, Washington, a place with a hippie scene that feels more like home than anywhere I’ve ever lived.
This is the story of my first-ever DMT trip, and what smoking changa with a random dude at a friend’s party taught me about life.
What are DMT and changa?
DMT, or N, N-dimethyltryptamine, is a hallucinogenic tryptamine drug. It hits your brain and body with an intense psychedelic trip that alters reality, produces wild visuals, and results in an out-of-body experience. Lasting about 30 minutes to an hour, the effects of DMT are pretty short-lived compared to other psychedelics like psilocybin or LSD.
Most often, DMT comes in a powder/crystallized form that can be smoked, vaporized, snorted, or even injected. To activate it, it’s usually combined with a MAOI, or monoamine oxidase inhibitor.
One of the most common ways people consume DMT is by drinking ayahuasca—a psychotropic tea typically brewed from two Amazonian plants: a woody vine (Banisteriopsis caapi), which is an MAOI, and the leaves of the chacruna plant, or Psychotria viridis, which contains DMT.
Another way people consume DMT is by smoking changa—a blend of chacruna, caapi vine, and smokable herbs like cannabis.
While changa and ayahuasca contain the same ingredients, the primary difference between the two is that you smoke changa and you drink ayahuasca.
Another difference is their experience: Changa maximizes the effects of DMT within a short period, while ayahuasca takes your body on a gastrointestinal ride that includes vomiting, diarrhea, and effects that may last 6 hours or more.
Smoking changa was my introduction to the wonders of the drug known as “the spirit molecule.”
My first DMT experience
All right, let’s get weird as hell for a moment, shall we?
On the autumn equinox of 2018, I was at a party in West Seattle, thrown by a couple friends who had just come back from their first Burning Man. A homie of theirs had a little baggie of powder and asked if I’d ever tried DMT. I said nah, but I was down to check it out.
Next thing I know, there was a pipe full of weed, herbs, and that changa powder in front of my face. He told me to hit it slowly and to continue taking little hits until my lungs were completely full of smoke. I held the smoke until I literally had to choose between breathing and passing out. The experience that followed can only be described with two words: blast off.
“Blasting off” or “breaking through” is when a psychedelic takes you out of your body and to an entirely different dimension (I told you this was about to get weird). I felt like a spirit that came out of my physical body, and I was hovering above everything and everyone in the kitchen, like some psychedelic Casper shit.
I could see my physical body bent over, face in his palms, cradling himself like a little baby. But there was no way to save Body Danté from what was happening. The harder I tried to get back into my body the further away I floated from it, ultimately becoming so detached from my physical being that I wondered if this is what death is like—when I do die, do I just come out of my body for a period of time as a ghost above my body, just stuck in a weird space of “Where do I go now?”
I’m not alone in this feeling. Scientists say a DMT trip feels like dying or a near-death experience. The experience lasted about 20 minutes for me, but it felt like a lifetime. Immediately after it ended I came to my post-DMT sober senses, departed to the empty living room, and layed down on a futon with my eyes open for the rest of the night. Party over.
How to navigate an intense DMT trip
Well, at first, I freaked the fuck out interally. Though I’d experienced LSD and shrooms before, neither prepared me for DMT’s intensity. It came on hard and fast, and I knew the only way to make it through the experience was to accept that this was my reality.
I also reminded myself of what I was told about the drug before I took it: It would be incredibly intense and take me out of my body if I had a breakthrough. So with this knowledge echoing in my brain, it let me know that everything I was experiencing was normal and expected.
Before I took it, I made sure I was in a safe space with people I love, so it was OK to freak out. There’s no judgement around me, and they all understand how a first time DMT trip can affect a human. Plus, my people would never give me any type of substance that was going to be to my detriment. Though I didn’t need a trip sitter for the experience, there was a certain calm that came from knowing they were available.
Most importantly, I navigated an intense DMT trip by surrendering to the experience. I didn’t do DMT to have a fun trippy time; I did it because I was told that it would change my life, the way I think, the way I act, and overall, at the end of this body-shaking experience, I’d come out an entirely different person.
What my first DMT trip taught me about life
The first lesson an intense DMT trip taught me was that we’re all ants on this earth and the control you think you have can be snatched from you at any moment. It’s a sensation known as ego death.
I went into that trip naively secure with my place in life and came out of it with a list of ways I want to continue growing professionally and personally. On it were things like wanting to be more consistent with my writing output and wanting to find new, more efficient ways to use my voice. The ego death really brought all of the goals I’d been running from right to the front of my brain. Without that DMT trip, I would’ve had to wait until some extreme loss in life checked me.
The trip also showed me that I handle pressure better than expected. In the most intense moments of panic, I’ll always choose to accept reality and navigate it, versus allowing the moment to absolutely destroy me. Had I chosen the alternative, that DMT trip may have resulted in a super duper freakout that would’ve created a far more insecure, far more fragile, far more passive version of myself once I was out of it.
Lastly, my first DMT trip taught me that I am extremely curious about all psychedelics and alternative plant substances and medications. There’s a lot of research about the benefits of psychedelics for therapy and mental ailments, and their potential to open emotional doors that cannabis may not be able to crack.
If a couple hits of DMT can flip my world upside down like that, I can only imagine the many ways that consistent, healthy, and dose-appropriate consumption of other types of plant medicines can change my life.
Read more of Leafly’s guide to psychedelics
- Psychedelic medicine: How psychedelics can help
- How do psychedelics work?
- The history of psychedelics
- Which psychedelic drugs are legal?
- Is cannabis a psychedelic?
- How ego death can improve mental health
- Types of psychedelics
- How to dose psychedelic mushrooms
- Magic mushrooms and acid: What are the differences?
- Smoking weed with psychedelic mushrooms