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What Are Psilocybin Mushrooms?
Psilocybin mushrooms, commonly referred to as Magic Mushrooms or Shrooms, are hallucinogenic substance and a Schedule I drug. The mushrooms grow in certain areas of North, Central, and South America as well as parts of Europe. The mushrooms containing Psilocybin are normally consumed fresh or dried. When fresh, they have a whitish stem with dark brown caps. Dried versions are mostly rusty brown. Because some people confuse different varieties of mushrooms, accidental poisonings do occur.
Few people use the scientific term “Psilocybin” when talking about this substance. Instead, street names for the drug include:
- Little Smoke
- Magic Mushrooms
- Mushroom Soup
- Purple Passion
- Simple Simon
Physical and Mental Effects of Psilocybin
Psilocybin mushrooms are known for their hallucinogenic properties, including euphoric feelings and perception distortion. After ingestion, the stomach and intestines absorb the mushroom’s Psilocybin chemicals and convert it to psilocyn (the compound responsible for its serotonin interactions). Usually, the mushrooms start to have an effect within 30 minutes that will last between four and six hours. However, different species, where they’re grown, harvest cycles, and whether the mushroom is consumed fresh or dried, all have an impact on its potency.
The potential physical side effects of consuming mushrooms include:
- Dilated pupils
- Muscle weakness
- Unusual body sensations
The possible mental effects of consuming mushrooms include:
- Distorted or impaired thinking
- Feeling like your surroundings aren’t real
- Feelings of euphoria
- Loss of coordination
- Mood changes
- Out-of-body experiences
- Transcendental experiences
- Visual distortion or disturbances
Both physical and mental effects vary between people, based on their own history with taking hallucinogens as well as how they are consuming it. For some people, persistent auditory and visual disturbances or “flashbacks” can last for a few weeks to a few years (diagnosed as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder or HPPD).
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What Is a Psilocybin Trip?
When people talk about “tripping on shrooms” (or, their “trip” experiences), they are referring to their sensations they experienced while high on hallucinogenic drugs. A large number of people report trips that include spiritual awakenings or powerful transcendental experiences. Some studies have used these reports as the basis for examining the efficacy in using Psilocybin to treat depression in end-of-life, terminal patients.
Because it is an unregulated illicit substance, it is impossible to know in what ways the mind and body will be affected – or for how long those effects will last – just by looking at it. Nonetheless, there are certain preparations of mushrooms that are known to trigger stronger side effects. For instance, the amount of hallucination-causing material in mushrooms is approximately 10 times higher in dried preparations. As such, dried forms of Psilocybin may result in more intense or frightening hallucinations.
An overdose of Psilocybin mushrooms may result in panic attacks or psychosis. These type of side effects are also more likely to occur in people already suffering from a mental disorder. Nausea and vomiting brought on by ingesting the bitter mushrooms can be life-threatening if the person becomes too dehydrated.
Can You Get Addicted to Mushrooms?
Between 2009 and 2015, a national survey on drug use and health revealed that approximately 8.5% of people had taken Psilocybin at least once in their lifetime. However, addiction to these mushrooms remains low and the compound is not considered naturally addictive. Moreover, no physical withdrawal symptoms are currently associated with the substance. Still, because the drug interacts with the Mesolimbic Dopamine pathways in the brain (responsible for mood and feelings like happiness and satisfaction), some people may become dependent on its effects.
If taken regularly, a person can build a tolerance to the effects of Psilocybin as well as develop a cross-tolerance to other hallucinogens (such as LSD, DMT, mescaline, et cetera). After using these drugs continually for several days, a person may go through psychological withdrawals and have trouble adjusting back to reality. Hallucinogen detox may be required for these individuals.
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