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What are the Effects of Psilocybin Mushrooms?
Mushrooms containing the hallucinogenic substance psilocybin are consumed by people who are attempting to experience a psychedelic high. When someone ingests what are commonly called “magic mushrooms,” psilocybin activates serotonin receptors in the prefrontal cortex, affecting perception, cognition, and mood. Mushrooms can be found growing in the wild or they may be grown by individuals or drug manufactures. Psilocybin mushroom spores can be purchased online for people to grow personally, although they risk facing legal consequences for possessing a Schedule I controlled substance. Schedule I drugs have no medical use and have a high potential for abuse. The effects of psilocybin mushrooms depend on the potency and amount that is consumed.
The potency depends on the origin and species of mushroom, the growing conditions, the harvest period, and whether they are consumed fresh or dried. Dried mushrooms have 10 times the amount of active ingredients as fresh mushrooms. The taste of psilocybin mushrooms is generally bitter, so people will brew them as a tea, add it to food, or cover it in chocolate to mask the flavor and make it easier to consume. The effects of psilocybin mushrooms start within about 30 minutes and can last as long as 6 hours. Users may feel effects similar to those of the hallucinogenic drug LSD.
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What Does It Feel Like to Use Psilocybin Mushrooms?
An altered perception of space and time is what most people who use magic mushrooms want to feel. Many feel that going on psychedelic trips will bring them peace, clarity, or help them see the world in a new light. Some of the effects of psilocybin mushrooms include euphoria, a spiritual awakening, visual distortions (such as vivid colors and halos of light), peacefulness, derealization, and depersonalization. Users may feel like their surroundings are not real or that they are disengaged from their surroundings.
The physical effects of psilocybin mushrooms include muscle weakness, loss of coordination, drowsiness, dizziness, yawning, dilated pupils, nausea, and vomiting. Some people vomit soon after consuming the mushrooms. The mushrooms can also cause undesirable effects, such as unstable emotions, impaired concentration, distorted thinking, confusion, paranoia, and frightening hallucinations. When a person is experiencing negative thoughts and feelings during a psilocybin trip, they are having a “bad trip.” Someone undergoing a bad trip may feel that the people around them are deceitful or evil, that their life has no worth, or that the trip will never end. Some users have described seeing walls melting or their friends’ faces being distorted into monstrous visages. While the effects usually subside within a few hours, some users may continue to experience negative effects by developing hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder.
Hallucinogen-Persisting Perception Disorder
Hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder (HPPD) is usually reported after using LSD, but it can also occur after using other hallucinogenic drugs. A case of HPPD will involve visual disturbances after a trip that usually only lasts a short time, but may last for years. The visual disturbances may invoke bright circles, blurry patterns, and size distortions.
There are two types of the condition. The first type is random, brief flashbacks, and the second type is ongoing changes to vision that come and go. The symptoms may be distressing or interfere with daily life, causing panic attacks, depression, and anxiety. A doctor can diagnose HPPD and provide medications and tools to manage the symptoms. HPPD is not the only risk associated with consuming psilocybin mushrooms. Consuming the wrong type of mushroom can result in death.
Death Cap Mushrooms
People eating wild mushrooms and experiencing dangerous side effects has been an ongoing problem in Europe. Within a 7-year span, 10,600 people were poisoned by mushrooms in France. Twenty-two of them died. The majority of the people who had picked and eaten the mushrooms were already intoxicated, although some children ate the mushrooms. France initiated a public health alert to warn people about this issue, but the country still has over 1,000 poisonings reported each year. Ireland is also recently facing this issue with an increase in mushroom poisonings. One Irish man ate a wild mushroom and had a rapid deterioration in his liver function. He had to receive an emergency liver transplant and suffered multi-organ failure. He spent 3 months in the hospital and is slowly recovering.
There are many poisonous mushrooms that are grown in America, but perhaps the deadliest is Amanita phalloides, commonly known as the death cap mushroom. When someone eats a death cap, they will feel normal for a couple of days before symptoms start. This can cause difficulties in diagnosis. The initials effects of death cap mushrooms are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, but some people might start to feel better after a few days. However, by 72 hours, severe liver damage is apparent and often fatal. Brain swelling, bleeding disorders, and multi-organ failure may occur. There is no antidote for the death cap mushroom.
The death cap mushroom is found in Europe, Asia, and North America. It has been an ongoing problem in Canada and has recently been appearing in the United States. In 2016, there were 14 cases of death cap poisonings, with 3 patients receiving liver transplants. In the fall of 2019, the University of Washington warned students and staff about death caps that had started growing on campus. Picking and eating wild mushrooms is a dangerous risk, as mushrooms like the death cap look very similar to edible mushrooms. It is better to air on the side of caution and not consume any wild mushrooms.
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Can You Be Addicted to Psilocybin Mushrooms?
While drugs like LSD and psilocybin are not as addictive as many other illicit drugs, they can still create a tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Continued use of psilocybin mushrooms results in an increased tolerance, where the user will need to consume more of the drug to feel effects. Cross-tolerance can also occur, where a user will develop a tolerance to other hallucinogenic drugs. For a few days after using magic mushrooms, users may experience psychological withdrawal and have trouble discerning reality. Abusing drugs to escape from reality is a sign of addiction. Please contact a dedicated treatment provider today if you or a loved one needs help with starting rehab.
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