This story, written by Olivia Lambert, not only contains significant misinformation, she cites no evidence to indicate that there has even been an increase in the use of this drug in Australia despite a headline suggesting that there has. In fact, her key expert is quoted as saying that “It’s pretty rare at the moment”. My research has shown that such irresponsible reporting is actually likely to lead people who had not heard of this drug to become curious and try it. Indeed, her by-line: ” It’s incredibly euphoric and your mind loses all sense of reality”, certainly makes the drug sound appealing. In this instance, perhaps such curious use of the drug is not too concerning given that DMT is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter produced in the brain and has low toxicity; however, the story proposes that it is increasingly being synthetically manufactured citing only the NSW Drug Info website. My experience is that DMT is being extracted naturally from the local flora as it is abundant in the Australian wattle tree and this process is far cheaper and easier than synthetic manufacture. There is no reason to believe that synthetic DMT is widely available within Australia.
Lambert’s key expert, Mr Leibie, is also questionable as he runs a drug testing lab and has a vested interest in creating alarm within the community. Indeed, a number of statements that Lambert cites from Leibie are simply false. For example, he is paraphrased as stating that “DMT was a tryptamine, a new class of psychoactive substances”. The human neurotransmitter serotonin, in addition to DMT, are all tryptamines. They are hardly new. Furthermore, the use of DMT has occurred within Western society since the 1960’s and by indigenous South Americans for 1000s of years.
It would appear that the personal experience of the drug being used in a shamanic context by Melbourne based IT consultant Grant Eaton has been lifted from his Facebook post, presumably without his consent.
DMT is also not a narcotic drug, as stated by Lambert in the article, yet I suspect that this term, like reference to potential “synthetic” variants of DMT, has been intentionally used by Lambert to incite fear within the community. Such reporting is irresponsible not only because it perpetuates misinformation about drugs and prevents constructive conversations about drug policy, but as noted the evidence indicates that such reporting can actually both create and fuel an epidemic.
Dr Stephen Bright, Psychologist