Magic Mushrooms: What Are They, Side Effects, & Abuse

Magic mushrooms aren't commonly thought of as addictive, but drug addiction is more about behaviors and outcomes than drugs. Learn more in our blog.

Magic Mushrooms: What are They, Side Effects, & Abuse

Table of Contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

February 28, 2023

The Edge Treatment Center

Psilocybin mushrooms, which are also referred to as magic mushrooms or shrooms, are not your regular type of mushrooms. These are hallucinogenic, potentially addictive mushrooms that contain the chemical psilocybin. Some people recreationally use magic mushrooms or refer to them as a way to relax.

However, magic mushroom addiction is real, and lately, more and more people, especially teenagers and young adults, have been seeking drug rehab care for it. To understand more about this lesser-understood type of drug addiction, you need to know a bit more about magic mushrooms and what they are.

What Are Magic Mushrooms?

Indigenous people are known to have used Magic Mushrooms as a way to connect with the spirit world. During the hippie era of the 1960s, shrooms became popular. Today, they are also often used wrongly, typically as a party drug, found in abundance at events like music festivals. However, assuming magic mushrooms are not an addiction threat can be a mistake.

This is because psilocybin is a Schedule I drug, which means it has a high risk of abuse. Despite the overall sentiments often suggesting that magic mushrooms, like other psychedelic drugs, can provide a safe, herbal relief, there are no accepted medical use instances in the United States that openly advocates using magic mushrooms as a form of alternative medicine.

Since the 1970s, using psychedelic substances has been notorious. Magic mushrooms have a history to them, and they have been eaten fresh or dried, some people talk about drying them and using them in tea. Psilocybin-heavy mushrooms can be easily added to foods and served to unsuspecting people. Psilocybin mushrooms can also be dried and ground into a powder.

This powdered form of magic mushrooms can be easily put into capsules and consumed orally. Some people might even share stories about having snorted or injected with Psilocybin mushrooms, but orally consuming shrooms is the most common way of consumption. There is also a fear that psilocybin powder can be lethally dangerous to inject.

Are Magic Mushrooms Safe?

Not likely. Psilocybin is a hallucinogen—a type of drug that has a significant mind-altering effect and like many other recreational, prescription, and street drugs, the effects can be dangerous, to self and others. While usually magic mushrooms are dried and consumed or mixed into food or drinks to eat, some people are known to consume freshly picked mushrooms. Magic mushrooms are also called mushies and some other names include:

  • Liberties

  • Blue meanies

  • Golden tops

  • Liberty caps

FDA and Psilocybin: why some people vouch for Magic Mushrooms? 

Magic mushrooms can make people feel sick and sleepy at first. Then, more intense effects kick in, ranging from getting nervous and paranoid to panicking or suffering hallucinations. The effects of magic mushrooms can start at any time, between 20 minutes and 2 hours after consumption. The person might experience euphoria and restlessness which can make the person ignorant about basic safety and a possible threat to those around them.

Even though research reports often seem supportive, it is hard to say when or if the FDA will provide a status to magic mushrooms similar to that of medical marijuana. For starters, the beneficial effects of magic mushrooms are not that well documented. It needs to be administered by therapists to ensure it is consumed in the right way.

Psilocybin can lead to severe and long-lasting psychological problems in some people. Psilocybin can create a hallucination more severe than cannabis, and in people who have had psychosis or those with a family history of mania, the altered state of mind after using shrooms could quickly turn lethal or even suicidal. There have been many instances of people talking about a "bad trip" after using the smallest amounts of magic mushrooms. The argument gained attention when some organizations started discussing a possible psilocybin therapy.

The FDA is not likely to grant safety status to psilocybin treatment right away unless a lot more, research-based clarity comes through.

What Do Magic Mushrooms Look Like?

Magic mushrooms come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be white, tan, or brown, with caps that range from light yellow to dark brown. The stems may be white or yellowish-brown, and they often have small bumps around the edge of the cap.

It's important to note that different species of magic mushrooms can look very different from one another, so it's important to do some research and learn to identify them correctly.

When picking magic mushrooms, take care as they can be easily confused with poisonous species. If you're unsure about whether a particular mushroom is safe or not, leave it alone!

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Digging Deeper Into the Silent Support for Magic Mushrooms

Some cultures have used hallucinogenic plants through the centuries, including plants and many edibles, such as mushrooms. Magic mushrooms, too have been documented in a similar way but it was Dr. Albert Hofmann who provided clarity about psilocybin. Over the years, some healers have spoken about using magic mushrooms to relieve pain or to help a person overcome depression. In 2018, researchers at Johns Hopkins University came up with a suggestion, requesting moving Psilocybin to a Schedule IV drug, opening the doors for its use as a medicine.

It was also suggested that magic mushrooms could help beat addictions associated with nicotine and alcohol. Some reports indicated that magic mushrooms could help people fight emotional pain as a part of their struggle to survive due to terminal illness.

Anybody reading about the possible uses and safety of magic mushrooms is most likely to have come across microdosing, where a tiny amount of a potentially potent drug is administered so that the benefits outweigh the side effects. However, this does not solve the problem of magic mushroom addiction.

People often use it like any other street drug as the substance helps to overcome feelings of pain and anguish and the mind-changing effects that bring about relaxation. These effects of magic mushrooms make them highly addictive, as much as any other substance abuse drug. Yes, psilocybin is being studied as a potentially beneficial psychedelic drug, as an alternative treatment for treating mind-related health issues such as anxiety but it continues to be commonly abused and is often not regarded as severe as an addiction challenge as some of the more infamous drugs.

Magic Mushroom Addiction Is a Reality

People can disagree about whether magic mushrooms are addictive or not, but they have often proven to be addictive, and they can present an addiction threat if consumed regularly. Some people are known to mix psilocybin mushrooms with something else to create their own concoction. This is why the dependency on psilocybin mushrooms might not be often fully realized.

The psilocybin in magic mushrooms seems to change how serotonin is regulated in the brain, leading to unusual thoughts. This means escaping the stress of everyday life which can be rewarding for some. It takes 20 to 40 minutes for the person to start feeling the effects of magic mushrooms, and the trip can last up to many hours.

There is a threat that using magic mushrooms for a long time can lead to long-term psychosis. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that a single but strong dose of psilocybin mushrooms could have a pronounced effect on a person's personality for a surprisingly long time.

What Are the Effects of Magic Mushrooms?

When consumed, magic mushrooms can produce a variety of psychoactive effects. These include feelings of euphoria, changes in perception and thoughts, visual and auditory hallucinations, and an altered sense of time.

The specific effects will depend on the species and the dosage consumed. Lower doses tend to produce more relaxing, dreamy-like states while higher doses can cause more intense effects like visual distortions and what is commonly referred to as a “trip”.

It's important to note that consuming magic mushrooms can be unpredictable and there is always the risk of having an unpleasant experience, so it's best to research the particular species you are using beforehand.

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Does a Person's Environment Have an Effect on Magic Mushrooms?

Some people believe that the environment in which a person consumes magic mushrooms has an effect on the experience. A comfortable, safe atmosphere is thought to be ideal for producing positive, meaningful experiences with these substances.

It's important to note that there is no scientific evidence to back up this claim, but it is certainly worth considering when planning a trip. Being in a place where you feel safe and comfortable can help promote a more positive experience.

Additionally, it's best to be with people who are familiar with the effects of magic mushrooms so they can act as a guide if needed. It's also important to avoid distractions such as loud music or bright lights which have the potential to disturb the trip.

What Happens if You Take Magic Mushrooms With Other Drugs?

Mixing magic mushrooms with other drugs can be dangerous and is not recommended. Taking multiple substances at the same time can increase the risk of dangerous interactions, as well as cause intense psychological symptoms.

Additionally, some substances may make it difficult to assess the effects of the mushroom leading to an unpredictable experience. Stimulant drugs like methamphetamines can make it difficult to control the intensity of the trip, and alcohol can lead to feelings of depression afterward.

Also, psychiatric medications like antidepressants and antipsychotics should not be combined with magic mushrooms. They can interact in unpredictable ways which could lead to serious complications.

If you decide to take magic mushrooms, it's best to do so on their own without combining them with any other substances.

Magic Mushroom Addiction Signs & Symptoms

If someone you know seems high on shrooms, you might find the person is often sick, nervous, or paranoid. When someone is using drugs, it is important to notice the changes in sleeping and dietary patterns apart from the social behaviors. There are some rare but possible long-term effects of hallucinogens like magic mushrooms, such as unwanted but permanent mood changes and developing a pattern of paranoia.

To understand this better, consider Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder or HPPD where a person continues to suffer from severe hallucinations much after the actual use of the hallucinogenic drug. Some people called them flashbacks, but these might look like a major psychological trauma to the person suffering from them. 

Typical symptoms of an emerging addiction to magic mushrooms might include any or all of the following:

  • Hallucinations that seem to carry on even when not using magic mushrooms

  • Blood pressure changes

  • Irregularity in the heart rate

  • Sudden changes in the body temperature 

  • Anxiety in an unrelated, irrational manner

  • Depression or feeling the blues

  • Strong mood swings

  • Numbness or tingling in the body

  • Panic-like paranoia

  • Slurred speech

  • Losing weight due to poor appetite

  • Short-term memory loss

  • Troubled breathing

Some other signs of using magic mushrooms include:

  • Dry mouth

  • Feeling of floating in the air

  • Lowering personal barriers of safety

  • Having visions

  • Suffering from muscle spasms

  • Change in ability to recognize and interpret things

  • Excessive sweating

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Can Magic Mushrooms Cause Withdrawal Symptoms?

Magic mushrooms are not known to cause physical dependence, so withdrawal symptoms are generally not an issue. That said, a person may experience psychological symptoms such as mood swings and depression when they stop using the substance after long-term use.

In most cases, these psychological symptoms should resolve within a few weeks without any medical intervention. If you find yourself struggling to cope with these symptoms, it is important to speak to a treatment professional.

Psilocybin Magic Mushrooms Withdrawal 

If someone has been using magic mushrooms for a long time, there is every chance of getting addicted, just like the addiction associated with sleeping medications, painkillers, or opiates. The person might suffer from poor memory and have trouble concentrating if the use of magic mushrooms is suddenly stopped. Psilocybin mushrooms might make a person trip to an alternate world; without this, some people might suffer from strange thoughts, dreams, and flashbacks.

Put together, it can make the mind foggy and the person very confused.

Identifying Magic Shrooms: Types of Magic Mushrooms

Magic mushrooms look like most types of ordinary dried mushrooms that we come across as a part of the food we eat. They have long, thin, whitish-gray stems, brownish caps, and light/white centers. Dried mushrooms are mostly found to be dusky brown and are hard to differentiate from regular mushrooms or even gourmet mushrooms. Some shrooms might have off-white spots but that is not likely to be an identifying feature.

As a psychedelic, party drug, psilocybin has been finding an increasing demand, often sold in the form of liquid captured in small vials—again the liquid is almost transparent and without anything remarkable that cautions against consuming it. The short-term effects of magic mushrooms are most likely to wear off in about 6 to 12 hours, but long-term effects like suffering from post-usage flashbacks or hallucinations can last for a longer time.

Many cities in the nation have made the sale and purchase of shrooms illegal, underlining the seriousness of this addiction. Denver was the first city to stop making mushrooms a crime in 2019 followed by Oakland, Santa Cruz, and Ann Arbor.

If someone you know has taken Psilocybin mushrooms a long time back and shows no symptoms of drug addiction, the situation is perhaps not alarming. However, if you find someone suddenly aloof with poor concentration and has a habit of discussing shrooms or mixing a dry powder along with alcohol, it is perhaps a good idea to look closer. Just like benzodiazepines and opioids, hallucinogens like shrooms are often mixed with some alcohol to get high. This is when a mere intervention might not help as people can be more addicted to shrooms than they think.

Drug detox is perhaps the better way to break a shroom addiction and help the person overcome the substance abuse problem for good. 

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The Edge Treatment Center Can Help You Move Past Addiction

If you think magic mushrooms are becoming an obsession you'd like to break, reach out to The Edge Treatment Center. Drug abuse and addiction are less about a particular substance and more about behaviors and outcomes. If magic mushroom use is causing problems in your life, we'll help you build a life where you don't need them or any other substance.

Our outpatient drug rehab is a welcoming, safe space where the root causes of addiction can be examined and dealt with. At The Edge, you'll have every resource and tool at hand to leave magic mushroom abuse in your past as you enter into a clear, happy life without them.

If you're interested in learning more about magic mushroom addiction and how to move past it, give The Edge Treatment Center a call today.

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