Magic mushrooms

Magic mushrooms are hallucinogens. When people take magic mushrooms, they see, hear or feel things that are not really there. A person who uses magic mushrooms may also experience other effects like anxiety, nausea and muscle twitches. Use of magic mushrooms does not usually result in a substance use disorder. 

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About magic mushrooms

Magic mushrooms (also known as mush, magic, shrooms, mushrooms and fungus delight) have been used since ancient times. There are over 75 subtropical species of mushrooms. Since many species look alike, it can be hard to tell them apart. It is possible for people to consume poisonous mushrooms, mistaking them for magic mushrooms.

The natural, active ingredient in magic mushrooms is a chemical called psilocybin. It is a hallucinogen and produces similar effects to LSD. Its main effects are hallucinations and an altered state of consciousness. Effects appear within 20 minutes and can last about 6 hours.

The strength of magic mushrooms can vary greatly. One mushroom may have very different psilocybin content compared to another.

Magic mushrooms may be sold as either dried whole mushrooms or as a brown powder.

The whole mushroom can be:

  • eaten raw or cooked
  • drunk by steeping in hot water for tea or mixing with fruit juice

When made into a powder, the mushrooms can be sniffed up the nose (snorted).

The active ingredient, psilocybin, can also be made in illegal labs. It is sold either as a white powder, or in tablets or capsules.

How people feel when they take magic mushrooms can be unpredictable. The results may vary from one person to another.

Short-term effects of magic mushrooms

Using magic mushrooms can lead to short-term mental and physical effects.

Mental effects

Emotions and senses may be heightened, and people may feel happy and creative. They may laugh or giggle a lot, and experience a sense of mental and emotional clarity.

Magic mushrooms can also cause hallucinations and affects people's brains by:

  • distorting their sense of reality (they see and hear things that are not there)
  • mixing up their senses (they believe they can see music or hear colours)
  • altering their sense of time

Some of the negative mental effects of taking psilocybin include:

  • changes in mood
  • light-headedness and loss of coordination
  • anxiety and panic attacks
  • confusion and disorientation
  • fear or paranoia

Physical effects

Taking magic mushrooms can produce:

  • numbness, particularly in the face
  • increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • dry mouth, sometimes leading to nausea and vomiting
  • muscle weakness and twitching, or convulsions
  • exaggerated reflexes
  • sweating and high body temperature, often followed by chills and shivering
  • loss of urinary control

Long-term effects of magic mushrooms

No studies have been done on the long-term effects of using magic mushrooms. However, their use is linked to psychosis. Psychosis refers to losing contact with reality. Common symptoms include:

  • changes in thinking patterns (disconnected thoughts)
  • delusions (false beliefs that have no basis in fact)
  • hallucinations
  • changes in mood
  • disorganized behaviour

Consuming magic mushrooms with other drugs or substances like alcohol may increase the risk of experiencing serious negative health effects.

Substance use disorders and withdrawal

There is little evidence that people can become physically or psychologically dependent.

However, it is possible to become tolerant to the drug's effects with regular use. This may occur over several days of continued use. In this state, even high amounts of the drug cannot produce the desired effect.

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