Key To Recovery Loading...

Our Blog

What You Should Know About “Shrooms” or Magic Mushroom

calendar June 25, 2021 user By Key To Recovery

“Magic mushrooms” are wild or cultivated mushrooms that contain psilocybin. Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychoactive and hallucinogenic compound. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), it is considered one of the best-known psychedelics.  

Magic MushroomsMagic mushrooms are also known as:

  • Shrooms
  • Blue meanies
  • Golden tops
  • Liberty caps
  • Amani
  • Agaric

Are Shrooms Addictive?

First of all, psilocybin is not addictive and it doesn’t lead to compulsive use. This is in part because the drug can cause an intense “trip,” and you can build a tolerance to it rather quickly. So, this makes it hard to have any effect after several days of repeated use. But this doesn’t mean it’s a “safe” drug to use. It has its share of drawbacks and side effects.

Shrooms are a Hallucinogenic

They are hallucinogenic drugs. This means that magic mushrooms can cause you to see, hear, and feel sensations that seem real but aren’t. However, their effects are highly variable and believed to be influenced by environmental factors.

History in Spirituality

Shrooms have had a long history of being associated with spiritual experiences and self-discovery. Many people believe that naturally occurring drugs like mushrooms, weed and mescaline are sacred herbs that help people reach superior spiritual states. Still, others use mushrooms to experience feelings of euphoria, connection, and a distorted sense of time.

You Can Have Bad Trips on Magic Mushrooms

Though often sought for a peaceful high, magic mushrooms have been reported to cause:

  • anxiety,
  • frightening hallucinations,
  • paranoia, and
  • confusion in some people.

In fact, most hospital admissions linked to the use of shrooms are connected to what is popularly known as a “bad trip.”

What Is Psilocybin?

Psilocybin is a Schedule I drug. That means that it has a high likelihood for misuse and has no currently accepted medical use for treatment in the United States. Although some cultures have been known to use mushrooms for hundreds of years (due to its hallucinogenic effects), psilocybin was first isolated by Dr. Albert Hofmann in 1958. Dr. Hofmann also discovered lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).

How Does Psilocybin Work in Your Body?

After consumption, mushrooms generally cause feelings of nausea before the hallucinogenic effects occur. When ingested, the psilocybin found in mushrooms is changed into psilocin in the body and is believed to influence serotonin levels in the brain. 

Psilocybin is similar in structure to the brain chemical serotonin and produces its effects by disrupting the normal functioning of the serotonin system. This leads to altered and unusual perceptions, moods, and thoughts. The effects can take 20 to 40 minutes to begin and may last up to 6 hours. This is the same amount of time it takes for psilocin to be metabolized and excreted.

Factors That Influence Effects

There are several factors that influence the effects of magic mushrooms including:

  • Dosage
  • Size, weight, and health of the user
  • Emotional state
  • Whether the person is used to taking it
  • Environment
  • Whether other drugs are also taken
  • History of mental illness

Using Mushrooms With Other Drugs

  • Mushrooms + ice, speed, or ecstasy (known as “candy-flipping”): This combination can increase the chances of a bad trip and may also lead to panic. Users need to be aware of the safety issues of ecstasy.

 

  • Mushrooms + some psychiatric medications: Mushrooms should not be taken by people on psychiatric medications. It may cause a relapse or worsen the condition.

 

  • Mushrooms + alcohol: alcohol takes the edge off the effect and helps you relax. Drunkenness disappears during the trip. Large amounts increase nausea. Although the potential for harm when using mushrooms with alcohol hasn’t been fully assessed, one study found that using mushrooms with alcohol could mask the effects of the alcohol. Since the effects of one substance can cover the effects of the other, it could lead to the increased consumption of both. 

 

  • Mushrooms + cannabis: Cannabis dulls the experience in the lead-up, heightens the peak, and brings back the effect during the comedown.

 

  • Mushrooms + amphetamines: This increases the energizing effect and the paranoia. The comedown from this can be difficult.

Common Side Effects of Magic Mushrooms

What Is Psilocybin?All hallucinogens have the risk of triggering mental and emotional issues and causing accidents while under the influence. Mushrooms are frequently taken by adolescents along with alcohol and other drugs which increases the physical and psychological risks.

The amount of psilocybin and psilocin contained in any certain mushroom is unknown. Therefore, the number of psychoactive contents can vary greatly. This means that it’s hard to tell the length, intensity, and type of “trip” someone will have.

Mild trips can cause the user to feel relaxed and drowsy or a frightening experience featuring hallucinations, delusions, and panic. In the worst case, magic mushrooms have been known to cause convulsions. Side effects can include both mental and physical effects.

Physical Effects

  • Dilated pupils
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Yawning

Mental Effects

  • Twisted sense of time, place, and reality
  • Euphoria
  • Visual or auditory hallucinations
  • Spiritual (introspective) experiences
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Nervousness

Coming Down

After consuming magic mushrooms, delayed headaches may occur. These don’t usually last for more than a day afterward. After using mushrooms, a person may experience:

  • Exhaustion
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

What are the Risks Associated With Mushroom Use?

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD)

It has been reported that users may experience long-term changes in personality and flashbacks long after taking mushrooms. A flashback (HPPD) is when a magic mushroom experience reoccurs. They are typically visual distortions that involve emotional or perceptual changes. 

These flashbacks can occur weeks, months, or even years after the drug was last used. This can be particularly disturbing, especially if a frightening experience or hallucination is recalled. Flashbacks usually last a minute or two and can be brought on by:

  • using other drugs,
  • stress,
  • tiredness, or
  • exercise.

Poisoning

Because magic mushrooms look a lot like poisonous mushrooms, poisoning is another possible risk of using these drugs. Mushroom poisoning can cause:

  • severe illness,
  • organ damage, and even
  • death.

It’s also common for magic mushroom products to be contaminated. In a study of 886 samples claimed to be psilocybin mushrooms, the analysis showed that only 28% (252) were actually hallucinogenic, 31% (275) were ordinary store-bought mushrooms laced with LSD or phencyclidine (PCP), and 37% (328) contained no drug at all.

Common Myths About Shrooms

Common Myths About ShroomsCommon myths about magic mushrooms include:

Myth: Some people believe that mushrooms are “safer” and provide a milder trip than other hallucinogenics.

Fact: Besides their potential to poison you, the effects of magic mushrooms are just as unpredictable as other drugs. Also, some people have reported much more intense and frightening hallucinations on magic mushrooms than on LSD.

Myth: Fly agaric mushrooms also contain psilocybin.

Fact: Fly agaric mushrooms contain the psychoactive chemicals ibotenic acid and muscimol. These chemicals are known to cause:

  • twitching, 
  • drooling, 
  • sweating, 
  • dizziness,
  • vomiting, and
  • delirium.

Tolerance and Overdose

As is true of most drugs, the more you use magic mushrooms, the more tolerance you will develop. And tolerance develops quickly with regular use. You will need more and more of the drug to achieve the effects you felt when you first started using it. And cross-tolerance also occurs with other drugs including LSD and mescaline.

Eventually, the drug will have little to no effect. Discontinuing use for a week or so will return people to their normal tolerance level.

Building a tolerance can be particularly risky with shrooms because taking a large amount can result in overdose symptoms. Symptoms of overdose are generally not fatal but can result in:

  • Agitation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Paranoia
  • Muscle weakness
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Are There Any Withdrawal Symptoms?

Taking mushrooms regularly does not appear to cause physical dependence so users don’t often report any physical symptoms of withdrawal when they stop using the drug. However, some experience psychological effects including depression and fatigue. After several days of use, a mushroom user may experience psychological withdrawal and have a problem adjusting to reality.

Treatment For Psilocybin Use

Although psilocybin is not considered an addictive drug because it doesn’t cause compulsive drug-seeking behavior, it does produce tolerance. The need to use higher and higher doses is an extremely dangerous practice. Especially considering how unpredictable the drug can be. Additionally, it produces tolerance to other hallucinogens, including LSD.

Medication

Individuals who are high on hallucinogens should be psychologically evaluated. If they are exhibiting violent or volatile behaviors they can be given benzodiazepines (sedatives) to control anxiety. Antidepressant medications can help reduce depressive symptoms. There are no FDA-approved medications to treat hallucinogen abuse.

Detox

Although there are few physical symptoms of withdrawal, supervised detox is a good option for most regular or long-term mushroom users. A person going through withdrawal might put their wellbeing in jeopardy if they experience flashbacks to a bad trip, depression, and anxiety. 

Psychological symptoms can lead a person to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and even frightened. And you shouldn’t be alone if you are not in touch with reality. Letting these symptoms go without being addressed is risky and can lead to a serious relapse with the patient becoming addicted to other drugs.

If the individual was regularly combining their mushroom use with other substances, then there will be additional withdrawal symptoms to be dealt with. These are all reasons why professional help is the best choice. It will help ensure that your mental health and quality of life aren’t compromised in the long term.

Rehab

After a successful detox, the next step is rehab. Once you’re clear of the hallucinogen-related toxins, the rehab process is aimed at treating the psychological effects of drug use. Because everyone is different, the program you enter will be based on your particular needs. Some options are:

Residential or Inpatient Treatment

These are intensive programs that require you to live at the treatment facility full-time until you complete your program. Residential programs ensure that you are in a safe, structured environment, away from your triggers to use, and with constant supervision to make sure you don’t relapse.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

In an outpatient treatment program, you will live at home and attend therapy and counseling sessions at the treatment facility. There are different types of outpatient programs:

  • General outpatient program (OP)–An OP has the lowest level of time requirement. You will attend sessions at the treatment facility 2 or 3 days a week for approximately 3 hours per day.
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP)–In an IOP, you will typically attend counseling and therapy sessions 3 or 4 days per week for about 5 hours per day.
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP)–This is the highest level of outpatient care. This usually requires full days at the treatment center, every day.

Therapy

No matter which program you enter, your recovery depends on the goals and success of your therapy. For the treatment of hallucinogenic abuse, evidence-based behavioral therapies have proven to be the most effective, along with psychotherapy.

Behavioral Therapies

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)–CBT therapy works by interrupting the individual’s patterns of negative thinking. Through CBT, you are able to alter the behaviors associated with those thoughts and learn better ways to deal with stress and make healthy choices in the future.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)–DBT is another type of cognitive-behavioral therapy, but it is aimed more at learning to deal with and express emotions and reducing suicidal behavior.

Psychotherapy (talk therapy)

During psychotherapy sessions, your work with a counselor in groups or individual sessions. The purpose is to find underlying reasons for your drug use. By identifying deeply rooted thoughts and impressions, it is easier to address these issues and build a better life.

Holistic therapy

Many treatment centers now are practicing holistic therapy. The principle behind this type of therapy is that the whole body must be treated–mind, body, and spirit. If one of these parts is out of balance, the whole being is out of balance. Yoga, acupuncture, and equine therapy are examples of holistic therapy.

Where Can You Find This in Southern California?

If you, or someone close to you, are having a problem with drug use, you can find help at Key to Recovery in Orange County in Southern California. We will help you learn life skills for a productive, fulfilling future. Imagine not being dictated to by a substance. Imagine learning to deal with your life without distorting it. Imagine having that extra money in your wallet. And real friends, not just people to get high with. These are all things that can be yours. But you know that by now or you wouldn’t be reading this. Don’t wait. Contact us now. 

References:

www.adf.org.au/drug-facts

www.drugfree.org

www.alcohol.org

www.drugabuse.gov