Psilocybin, the active component in “magic” mushrooms, is a hallucinogenic substance people consume from specific mushrooms that grow in various regions in Europe, Mexico, South America, and the United States.
Per the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, Psilocybin is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. It is characterized as having a high potential for abuse without any legitimate medical purpose. People use psilocybin as a recreational drug, as it provides feelings of euphoria and sensory distortion that are common to hallucinogenic drugs in general, such as LSD.
Although medical experts do not consider psilocybin to be an addictive substance, users can experience disturbing and frightening hallucinations, anxiety, and panic from using the drug.
What Is Psilocybin?
Psilocybin is a natural hallucinogen that activates serotonin receptors in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that regulates mood, perception, and cognition.
Hallucinogens work in other parts of the brain that associated with arousal and panic responses. Psilocybin does not always result in active visual or auditory hallucinations. Instead, it distorts how some individuals that use the drug perceive objects and others already in their surroundings.
The quantity of the drug, past drug-related encounters, and expectations of how the experience will evolve can all impact the effects of psilocybin. After the digestive system absorbs psilocybin, the body converts it to psilocyn, a serotonergic psychedelic substance.
The hallucinogenic effects of psilocybin usually onset within 30 minutes of consumption and last between 4-6 hours. In some individuals, however, changes in sensory perception and thought patterns can persist for several days.
Mushrooms containing psilocybin are small and usually tan or brown. In the wild, individuals often mistake mushrooms containing psilocybin for other mushrooms that are actually toxic to humans.
People typically ingest psilocybin as a brewed tea or prepare it with a food item to mask its bitter taste. Some manufacturers also crush dried mushrooms into a powder and place them in capsule form. Some people who consume these mushrooms also cover them in chocolate.
The potency of a mushroom primarily depends on the following:
- Growing conditions
- Harvest period
- Whether dried or fresh
- Extent of use
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) in the US., between 2009-2015, around 8.5 percent of people reported ingesting psilocybin at some point in their life.
The ritual use of psilocybin for spiritual purposes dates back to Mesoamerican societies and continues today. Psilocybin is often used for recreational purposes at dance clubs or by select groups of individuals seeking a transcendent spiritual experience.
Health providers and experts have tested psilocybin for treating cluster headaches, end-stage cancer anxiety, depression, and other anxiety disorders in medical settings. However, many scientists have questioned their effectiveness and safety as a therapeutic measure.
Psilocybin Street Names
Drug dealers seldom sell psilocybin under its real name. Instead, the drug may be sold as any of the following:
- Magic mushrooms
- Boomers or Zoomers
- Simple Simon
- Little smoke
- Sacred mushrooms
- Mushroom soup
- Purple passion
Effects of Shrooms
The effects of psilocybin are, in many ways, similar to those of LSD. They include altered perception of time and space and intense changes in mood and feeling.
Possible effects of psilocybin include the following:
- Sense of spiritual awakening
- Rapidly changing emotions
- Distorted cognition
- Visual distortions
- Impaired concentration
- Muscle weakness
- Impaired coordination
- Unusual body sensations
- Nausea and vomiting
- Frightening hallucinations
The effects of psilocybin vary between individuals, based on differences in the person’s mental state, personality, and immediate environment.
If the user experiences mental health problems or feels anxious about using shrooms, they face a higher risk of having a bad experience or “trip.” Psychological distress is the unwanted event most often reported after non-medical use of psilocybin, which can take the form of profound anxiety or short-term psychosis.
Psilocybin and Depression
Discussions are ongoing about whether psychiatric specialists can use psilocybin and other hallucinogens as depression treatment. For example, two studies have examined psilocybin as a potential treatment. One study examined the capacity of psilocybin to relieve feelings of depression symptoms without dulling emotions and analyzing the relationship between positive therapeutic outcomes and the nature of psilocybin-induced hallucinations.
While some scientists are looking into some medical uses for psilocybin, it is still, at present, widely regarded as having little therapeutic value.
Individuals who have taken psilocybin in uncontrolled environments might engage in reckless behavior, such as driving while under the influence.
Some individuals experience persistent, distressing alterations in the way they perceive the world. These effects are often visual and can persist anywhere from weeks to years after using psilocybin.
Health providers now diagnose this condition as a hallucinogen persisting perception disorder or a flashback. A flashback is a traumatic remembrance of a deeply upsetting experience. The recollection of this unsettling experience during hallucinogen use is otherwise known as a “bad trip.”
Some people experience more unpleasant effects than hallucinations, such as fear, confusion, agitation, delirium, psychosis, and issues that resemble schizophrenia, requiring a trip to the hospital.
In most instances, a licensed health provider will treat these effects with medication, such as benzodiazepines. These effects often resolve in 6-8 hours as the effects of the drug subside.
Finally, although the risk is relatively small, some psilocybin users risk unintentional poisoning from eating a poisonous mushroom in error. Symptoms of mushroom poisoning may include confusion, delirium, and muscle spasms. Individuals experiencing these are urged to visit an emergency department immediately.
Because hallucinogenic and toxic mushrooms are common in most living environments, a person should regularly remove all mushrooms from areas in which children are present to prevent unintentional ingestion.
Most accidental mushroom ingestion leads to minor gastrointestinal issues, with only the most severe cases warranting medical attention.
Potential for Abuse
Psilocybin is not believed to be physically addictive, and no physical symptoms occur after discontinuing use. However, regular use can cause a person to become tolerant to the effects of psilocybin. Cross-tolerance also occurs with other hallucinogens, including peyote and LSD. People who ingest these drugs must wait for several days between doses to experience the desired effects.
After several days of psilocybin use, some people might experience emotional withdrawal and find it challenging to adjust to reality.
Getting Treatment for Drug Abuse
Although the use of psilocybin mushrooms is not believed to contribute to chemical dependence or full-blown addiction, it can nonetheless be problematic and habit-forming. Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery offer treatment for individuals who are finding it difficult to break free from the use of intoxicating substances, including mushrooms.
Our programs are comprehensive, individualized, and include several corrective services and enjoyable activities, such as psychotherapy, individual and family counseling, group support, art and music therapy, mindfulness therapy, aftercare planning, alumni events, and much, much more.