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What Are the Long-Term Effects of Psychedelic Mushrooms?

Psychedelic mushrooms aren’t necessarily the most dangerous drug a person might use recreationally, although they do have some risks associated with them, and they are typically illegal.

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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?

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.

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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

Key Facts

  • 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

While mushrooms have been used for decades, research about mushroom side effects in the long term is relatively new. The studies that have been conducted are troubling.

In a study published in 2020, researchers examined 346 reports of mushroom users. These people described several negative experiences, including distorted thinking. People who used multiple doses in the same session or combined their mushrooms with other substances had a higher rate of long-term problems.

Bad Trips

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. 

In one study of bad trips among recurrent mushroom users, 39% rated it among the top five most challenging experiences of their lifetimes. Additionally, 11% put themselves or someone else at risk of physical harm.

While a bad trip can be a traumatic experience, some people develop recurring symptoms of poor mental health after using mushrooms. In the study of bad trips mentioned above, 7.6% of people had recurring psychological symptoms that required treatment.


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. 

Researchers say between 4% and 4.5% of people with a history of hallucinogen use develop HPPD. It’s more common among people with underlying conditions like panic disorder, alcohol use disorder, and depression.

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.

No Link to Schizophrenia or Psychosis

In an extensive study of Americans published in 2015, researchers found no connection between taking psychedelic medications like mushrooms and developing long-term schizophrenia or psychosis. While people can develop HPPD, and those symptoms can mimic those seen in schizophrenia, mushrooms don’t seem to cause schizophrenia itself.

Physical Effects

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. 

The Science Behind Psilocybin

Researchers have examined why mushrooms cause such changes in our perception and behavior. They’ve determined that specific brain chemicals are to blame.

Psilocybin works by activating serotonin 5-HT2A receptors, and when they do, changes in cognition appear, and connections between parts of the brain shift. Mushrooms also work on brain chemicals like glutamate and NMDA receptors, changing the way we think and feel. Researchers call this a “brain resetting,” as some changes persist even when the drug wears off.

The chemistry behind psilocybin is complex, and researchers are just beginning to understand how each dose can change your brain’s function. However, it’s clear that these drugs have the ability to cause dramatic shifts, and some of them will stick with you for a lifetime.

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.

Therapeutic Use vs. Recreational Use

While many people worry about mushroom abuse and the long-term impact it can have on the brain and body, researchers are curious about using mushrooms to help people overcome serious mental health challenges.

A therapeutic mushroom session is much different than taking shrooms at home.

Some states allow practitioners to deliver mushrooms to their clients in a controlled setting. In one such facility, people take only 50 mg of mushrooms under supervision. The practitioners watch over their clients and ensure they stay safe while under the influence. They never leave their clients alone, and they don’t take mushrooms themselves.

State-run programs like this also provide mushrooms that have been tested for potency. Clients know exactly how much of an active ingredient they’ll take, and they can ensure the drug they’re using hasn’t been contaminated by something else.

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.

In a summary study published in 2022, researchers said mushrooms can be effective in treating the following issues:

  • Addiction to nicotine and alcohol
  • Depression
  • End-of-life mood disorders
  • Anxiety

Research published in 2023 also found that psilocybin can reduce the pain associated with cluster headaches, and the medication can reduce the frequency of attacks too.

It’s important to reiterate that these studies are conducted in controlled environments with low doses of tested mushrooms. No one should attempt to self-treat their conditions with mushrooms.

Updated March 21, 2024
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  2. Psilocybin Fast Facts. National Drug Intelligence Center.
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  4. Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction. (January 2019). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  5. What Are the Long-Term Health Impacts of Psilocybin Mushrooms? Drug Policy Alliance.
  6. Self-Reported Negative Outcomes of Psilocybin Users: A Quantitative Textual Analysis. (February 2020). PLOS One.
  7. Psilocybin History, Action, and Reaction: A Narrative Clinical Review. (August 2023). Journal of Psychopharmacology.
  8. Survey Study of Challenging Experiences After Ingesting Psilocybin Mushrooms: Acute and Enduring Positive and Negative Consequences. (September 2016). Journal of Psychopharmacology.
  9. Hallucinogen-Persisting Perception Disorder in a 21-Year-Old Man. (February 2019). Cureus.
  10. No Link Found Between Psychedelics and Psychosis. (March 2015). Nature.
  11. New Paradigms of Old Psychedelics in Schizophrenia. (May 2022). Pharmaceuticals.
  12. Oregon Now Offers Psilocybin Therapy. Here’s What One of the First Patients Experienced. (August 2023). OPB.
  13. Analysis of Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy in Medicine: A Narrative Review. (February 2022). Cureus.
  14. Can Psilocybin Treat Cluster Headache? (January 2023). American Migraine Foundation.
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