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Mushrooms

What It Is:

Some kinds of mushrooms contain psilocybin and psilocyn, substances that can cause hallucinations. Used in large enough doses, these mushrooms have effects similar to the drug LSD.

Sometimes Called:

shrooms, magic mushrooms

How It's Used:

Hallucinogenic mushrooms might be either fresh or dried. People take them as drugs by eating them, mixing them with food to mask the bitter taste, or brewing them in a tea for drinking.

What It Does:

The effects of mushrooms generally begin after about 30 to 45 minutes. They can last as long as 6 hours. Early effects typically include nausea and excessive yawning. After these initial effects, the "trip" begins.

A trip might be mild, leaving a person feeling drowsy or relaxed. But higher doses or stronger mushrooms can bring on hallucinations, anxiety, paranoia, and nervousness. The person may have a distorted sense of time, place, and reality. Too large a dose can lead to a long-term mental health condition known as psychosis.

The length and intensity of each mushroom trip can vary. It depends on how strong the mushrooms are and how much someone took. How a trip turns out also depends on the user's mood, personality, and expectations.

Some trips may be enjoyable, but others lead to terrifying thoughts of losing control, intense paranoia, panic attacks, and fears of death. With mushrooms, it's very hard to predict what sort of trip each user will have. There's also no way to end a bad trip until it has run its course, which could be hours later.

The physical effects of mushrooms can include:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • increased heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature
  • muscle weakness
  • drowsiness
  • lack of coordination
  • dilated pupils

In very rare cases, if someone takes a huge amount of mushrooms, the side effects can be severe enough to cause death.

Some mushroom users have flashbacks where they relive some part of a drug trip when they're no longer high. Flashbacks can come on without warning. They might happen a few days after taking mushrooms or months later.

It's hard to know how strong mushrooms are. Buying mushrooms is also risky because some mushrooms are drugs, but others are extremely poisonous: A number of mushroom species can make people violently ill or even kill them.

Hallucinogenic mushrooms can give people stomach cramps or make them throw up. They also give some users diarrhea.

Because mushrooms alter a person's sense of reality and affect judgment, trying to drive while under the influence of mushrooms is likely to cause accidents.

Mushrooms are an illegal drug listed as a Schedule I substance in the United States. This means they have a high potential for abuse and serve no legitimate medical purpose. Possession or use of hallucinogenic mushrooms is punishable by fines and jail time.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: May 2018