One of those most problematic long-term effects that sometimes occurs is the development of hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), which can cause random breaks from reality even when you haven’t recently used drugs.
What Are Shrooms?
When people discuss psychedelic mushrooms, or shrooms, they’re generally referring to what are “magic mushrooms,” which contain the hallucinogen psilocybin. These are naturally occurring mushrooms that have a hallucinogenic effect when consumed.
Psychedelics radically change the way you’re experiencing the world, potentially causing auditory and visual hallucinations, a distorted sense of time passing, and distinct changes to the way you think and experience emotions, which are generally temporary.
Key Facts About Shrooms
- Magic mushrooms typically contain about 0.2 to 0.4 percent psilocybin and a trace amount of psilocyn, which is another hallucinogen.
- Both psilocybin and psilocyn can technically be produced synthetically, but this does not seem to be occurring in meaningful amounts, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center.
- While it’s not recommended that you use psychedelics unless under the careful supervision of a medical professional as part of a treatment, if you do, it’s important to make sure you’re actually taking magic mushrooms, as there are many similar-looking but poisonous mushrooms one might misidentify.
What Are the Long-term Effects of Using Shrooms?
The long-term effects of psychedelic mushrooms are broken down into mental and emotional effects and physical effects.
Mental & Emotional Effects
An examination of psilocybin found it could help with mental health problems when used as part of a controlled treatment. In fact, one to three psilocybin sessions can potentially lead to a reduction in clinical symptoms that lasts for up to one year.
It isn’t fully understood why it can help with issues like depression and addiction in the right contexts, but it may in part be due to the fact that psilocybin is a serotonin 2A/5-HT2A partial agonist. Serotonin is a key part of mood stability, and it plays an important role in a variety of mental health issues.
One concern about repeated mushroom use is that a person might experience a “bad trip.” This happens when the heightened emotional state from psychedelic drugs can cause the person to experience potentially intense negative auditory and visual hallucinations and/or experience psychosis. With psychosis, they have a total break from reality and may act irrationally under the influence of psychedelics.
A relatively rare occurrence called hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) sometimes happens as the result of psychedelic use, including the use of magic mushrooms. These are hallucinations, which can sometimes be fairly intense, that suddenly occur weeks or months after a person’s last use of psychedelics.
These experiences are often incorrectly called “flashbacks” but aren’t necessarily connected to past events in a person’s life. They can be very dangerous if they occur under the wrong circumstances, such as while driving.
Long-term physical side effects from using magic mushrooms are rare. In fact, some experts suggest that people who do experience these types of side effects may actually be experiencing them as a result of latent psychological disorders that are triggered by the way mushrooms affect the brain.
Treatment Options for Psychedelic Mushroom Addiction
Psychedelic mushrooms are not typically associated with physical dependence, meaning that a person who stops taking them isn’t expected to go through withdrawal even after heavy use. With that said, some people may feel they are psychologically reliant on mushroom use. Regardless of the traits typically associated with a drug, if you ever feel you can’t stop taking it on your own, it’s a sign that you need help.
The typical approach to drug addiction involves a mix of the following approaches:
- Medication management
- Behavioral therapy
- Individual and group counseling
- Treatment of co-occurring disorders
- Aftercare and relapse prevention
There are no medications approved for psychedelic mushroom addiction at this time, although you may be prescribed medication as part of a treatment if you have co-occurring mental health issues, like depression.
The primary treatment you’ll likely be recommended is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This is a type of therapy that focuses on helping you identify why you take drugs and aims to change the way you channel those feelings. CBT also helps you restructure the way you think to focus on drug use less. This change in thought patterns results in changed behaviors as well.
- Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms). (August 2022). ADF.
- Psilocybin Fast Facts. National Drug Intelligence Center.
- Exploring the Long-Term Effects of Psychedelics on the Brain. BrainPost.
- Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction. (January 2019). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- What Are the Long-Term Health Impacts of Psilocybin Mushrooms? Drug Policy Alliance.