Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic chemical found in mushrooms that grow in the United States, Mexico, and Central America. They are often called magic mushrooms and are abused for their psychedelic properties. People take mushrooms for the “trip” or hallucinogenic experience they can provide.
Psilocybin is designated as a Schedule I controlled substance in the United States by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This means that there is no accepted medical use for the drug, and any use of it is considered abuse.
Mushroom addiction can be managed with therapeutic and supportive treatment methods.
What Are Psilocybin Mushrooms?
Psilocybin mushrooms can be fresh or dried, and they are classic hallucinogens.
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The fresh mushrooms have long, skinny white stems with dark brown caps that are white in the middle. These mushrooms grow in tropical and subtropical areas of Central America, Mexico, and the United States.
In dried form, psilocybin mushrooms are typically rusty brown with patches of off-white. These mushrooms are either eaten, brewed in tea, or added to food and ingested.
Psilocybin mushrooms are also taken with other drugs for greater effect.
These mushrooms are primarily taken for the mystical experience they can create. A trip can include hallucinations and distortions of reality that are often likened to a spiritual experience.
They are often consumed at parties and raves. And they are regularly taken in conjunction with other drugs, such as ecstasy, opioids, LSD, cocaine, and prescription drugs.
Mushroom trips are unpredictable, however. And magic mushrooms can be mistaken for poisonous mushrooms since they look similar.
Common Street Names for Mushrooms
Psilocybin mushrooms are known by a variety of street names, such as these:
- Magic mushrooms
- Purple passion
- Liberty caps
- Golden tops
- Little smoke
- Blue meanies
- Pizza toppings
How Do Mushrooms Impact the Mind & Body?
Shrooms, as hallucinogens, are believed to interfere with the brain’s ability to communicate between its chemical systems and the rest of the body.
The action of the chemical messenger, or neurotransmitter, serotonin is thought to be impacted by hallucinogen abuse. Serotonin is responsible for regulating moods, sensory perceptions, hunger, body temperature, sleep, intestinal muscle control, and sexual behaviors.
Psilocybin mushroom use can impact the body by causing the following:
- Loss of coordination
- Muscle weakness
- Irregular heart rate
- Increased body temperature
- Facial flushing
- Rapid breathing
- Pupil dilation
The impact on the mind generally involves hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there) and the inability to tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Mushrooms impact perceptions, thoughts, moods, and emotions, and they can cause perceptual changes and differences in consciousness.
In high doses, psilocybin mushrooms can cause psychosis and panic reactions. They also have the potential to trigger a life-threatening overdose.
What Are the Effects of Taking Mushrooms?
Taking magic mushrooms results in what is commonly referred to as a trip. This trip can last from two to six hours, and it can be unpredictable.
A “good” trip can have the following effects:
- Uncontrollable laughter
- Altered perceptions
- Heightened senses
- Visual enhancement of colors
No two trips are alike, however. It is not possible to predict what each trip will include.
It is easy to become intoxicated on magic mushrooms and experience a “bad trip.” Bad trips can cause paranoia and psychosis.
Psilocybin mushrooms are also commonly mixed with other drugs or alcohol, which can increase the side effects of each substance.
The Dangers of Tripping
Magic mushrooms are classified as illegal in the United States with no accepted safe or medical use. This is largely due to their unpredictability.
A trip cannot be controlled or predicted. Once it starts, you just have to ride it out until it finishes.
A bad trip can be stressful and scary. It can lead to some of the following side effects:
- Mental confusion
- Extreme anxiety
- Severe paranoia
- Lost sense of reality
- Psychosis (significant hallucinations involving frightening images and delusions)
People also report injuries while on a trip, as well as aggression, risky behaviors, and changes in thoughts, emotions, and behaviors while under the influence. People may experience medical emergencies while tripping. Toxic overdose is also possible, particularly if psilocybin mushrooms have been taken with other drugs or alcohol.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Mushroom Addiction?
In 2020, just over 7 million adults had used a hallucinogen in the past year. But most of these people don’t end up addicted.
Mushrooms and psilocybin are not typically addictive by nature and do not lead to compulsive drug-seeking and using behavior on their own. This is because each trip is a singular experience, and the changes in the brain are not long term.
Magic mushrooms can cause some level of psychological dependence, which can have the following symptoms:
- Cravings for mushrooms
- Feeling depressed, anxious, or low without mushrooms
- Positive associations with mushroom use and desire to repeat the trip
- Negative reactions when not able to take mushrooms
- Changes in social circles and spending more time with others to use mushrooms
- Secrecy and isolation
- Talking a lot about getting mushrooms, using them, and trips
- Stopping activities that do not involve mushroom use
When other drugs are taken in addition to magic mushrooms, these substances can interact with each other and raise the risk for addiction.
What Are the Causes of Addiction to Mushrooms?
There is some debate regarding whether you can truly be addicted to magic mushrooms since regular use of them does not seem to lead to compulsive drug use or physical dependence. Psychological dependence and withdrawal can occur, however, so addictive behavior is possible.
High levels of stress, childhood trauma, a co-occurring mental health or medical illness, family or personal history of addiction, polysubstance abuse, and easy access to psilocybin mushrooms can increase the odds for problematic drug use and addiction.
What Are the Symptoms of Shroom Withdrawal?
Magic mushrooms are not believed to make long-term chemical changes to the brain, so physical dependence and typical withdrawal symptoms are not common.
Psychological dependence can lead to withdrawal symptoms, however. If you have been using mushrooms regularly for a long period of time or in high doses for several days or weeks, you may experience this.
You may feel negative side effects when coming down from a trip on psilocybin mushrooms. Symptoms can include the following:
- Memory loss
- Breaks from reality
- Late onset headache
You can also experience recurring flashbacks to your trip weeks, months, or even years after stopping use of a hallucinogenic substance, such as psilocybin.
Can You Overdose on Mushrooms?
You can overdose on mushrooms if you take too high a dose at one time.
Overdose on magic mushrooms on their own is not usually life-threatening, but if you take another drug or alcohol along with shrooms, the risks for adverse reactions and significant complications goes up.
Symptoms of Overdose
Symptoms of mushroom overdose may include the following:
- Muscle weakness
- Lack of coordination
- Mental confusion
- Loss of consciousness or coma
Treatment Options for Addiction to Mushrooms
Treatment for psilocybin mushroom abuse and addiction will depend on your personal circumstances, including how long you have been using mushrooms and in what quantity, whether or not you used them with another drug, the presence of any co-occurring mental health or medical conditions, and your personal environmental and biological influencers.
Sometimes, treatment for mushroom addiction will start with a medical detox program that can offer supportive care and medications to manage withdrawal symptoms as your brain stabilizes without the drug. Therapy will be the backbone of treatment, as you address the underlying reasons that led to your substance abuse.
Addiction treatment will involve behavioral therapies, group and individual counseling, life skills training sessions, medication management, and support groups. With a solid treatment plan in place, you can achieve and sustain long-term recovery. The first step is reaching out for help today.
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- Hallucinogens DrugFacts. (November 2021). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Self-Reported Negative Outcomes Of Psilocybin Users: A Quantitative Textual Analysis. (February 2020). PLOS ONE.
- Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results From the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (2021). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.