A common hallucinogenic compound used in shamanic rituals in the Amazon is growing in popularity, mostly among young males, according to drug researchers.
Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is the active ingredient in ayahuasca, a plant-based mixture that can be used by itself -- most commonly by smoking it. Researchers warn it is a more powerful drug than magic mushrooms, LSD and ketamine.
The findings are based off of the Global Drug Survey, which is supported by numbers gathered by another survey, The National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that the number of people in the U.S. who have used DMT has gone up almost every year since 2006, from an estimated 688,000 in 2006 to 1,475,000 in 2012.
The latest study from a November article published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology suggests that mainstream interest has increased due to the release of the 2009 cult film “Enter the Void,” the 2010 documentary “DMT: The Spirit Molecule,” and a recent article on young people who had just smoked DMT featured in Vice Magazine.
Researcher Adam Winstock and his co-authors the latest study also found that a “bad trip” was a common risk for the drug and those “trips” are stronger than those of magic mushrooms, LSD and ketamine.
The ayahuasca brew, a combination of two plants that grow in South America, take users through hallucinogenic journeys. The use of ayahuasca itself has been on the rise over the last decade.
“I was a vomiting snake,” one user Allen Ginsberg said, according to the Huffington Post. “I vomited with eyes closed and sensed myself a Serpent of Being … covered with Aureole of spiky snakeheads miniatured radiant and many colored around my hands and throat – my throat bulging like the Beast of Creation, like the Beast of Death.”
Notable trends found in the 2012 Global Drug Survey include that DMT users have a relatively low urge to use more, and the drug offers an extreme hallucinatory experience rather than a “casual high.”
In the past decade psychedelic tourism has been on the rise, according to the Daily Mail. South American countries like Peru, Ecuador and Brazil have seen Western tourists visit to experience an ayahuasca journey.