Short & Long-Term Side Effects of Psilocybin "Magic" Mushrooms
Psilocybin mushrooms have been in the headlines in recent years as states have begun to consider decriminalizing or legalizing magic mushrooms. In 2020, Oregon became the first state to decriminalize the use of psilocybin mushrooms.
But what are the long-term risks and side effects of psilocybin? Understanding the dangers of magic mushrooms can help you make informed decisions about your substance use and find treatment when necessary.
This article will explore the side effects of mushrooms, the long-term effects of psilocybin use, and how to recognize the need for substance abuse treatment. If you or someone you love struggles with substance misuse or addiction, contact the Mandala Healing Center to explore our holistic treatment programs.
What is Psilocybin?
Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic substance found naturally in certain types of mushrooms. People may ingest psilocybin by consuming these mushrooms– sometimes called ”magic mushrooms”.
Psilocybin activates serotonin receptors in the prefrontal cortex and other parts of the brain. The prefrontal cortex is an area of the brain involved in thinking, mood, and perception. Hallucinogens like psilocybin can also affect other parts of the brain related to arousal and panic.
Contrary to popular belief, psilocybin does not always cause hallucinations. In some cases, it simply distorts how people perceive objects and people in the environment. The amount of psilocybin a person consumes, their expectations for what will happen, and their past experiences with hallucinogens can all impact the way they experience the effects of psilocybin.
Users typically consume these small, brownish mushrooms with food, brewed as tea, or as a powder-filled capsule. Research from 2015 suggests that over 8% of the United States population have used psilocybin in their lifetime.
People typically experience the effects of psilocybin within about 30 minutes of consuming the mushrooms. Effects can last up to 6 hours, but some people experience sensory changes and altered thought patterns for several days after taking mushrooms.
Magic mushrooms have varying levels of potency. Many factors can influence the concentration of psilocybin in a mushroom. These factors include:
- The species of the mushroom
- Where the mushroom originated
- Growing conditions
- When it was harvested
- Whether the mushroom is fresh or dried
Although the potency can vary, dried mushrooms typically have about ten times the psilocybin as fresh magic mushrooms.
Slang Terms for Psilocybin Mushrooms
In addition to the common term “magic mushrooms,” there are many other slang terms that refer to psilocybin mushrooms. These include:
- Simple Simon
- Little Smoke
- Sacred mushrooms
- Purple passion
- Mushroom soup
Knowing some slang terms for psilocybin mushrooms can help you recognize drug use in others, especially kids and teens.
Side Effects of Mushrooms
Magic mushroom users typically experience symptoms that mirror the effects of LSD, including altered moods and perceptions of space and time.
Some other side effects of psilocybin include:
- A sense of peace and well-being
- Feelings of spiritual openness and awakening
- The sense that your surroundings aren’t real
- Distorted thinking
- A dreamlike feeling
- Dilated pupils
- Loss of coordination
- Poor concentration
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle weakness
- Disturbing hallucinations
A history of mental illness or anxiety about the effects of hallucinogens may increase the risk of having adverse side effects of magic mushrooms. People with mental illness or anxiety may sometimes experience intense anxiety, panic, or short-term psychosis.
Long-Term Side Effects of Psilocybin
Some magic mushroom users will experience lingering, unwanted side effects of psilocybin in the form of flashbacks and other long-term mental effects. The DSM-V calls this Hallucinogen-Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD).
During a “flashback,” people may experience the side effects of mushrooms, including:
- Halo vision
- A perception of flickering lights and colors
- Seeing things out of the corner of their eyes that are not there
- Trails behind moving objects
- Objects’ size and color appear distorted
People with Hallucinogen-Persisting Perception Disorder may experience the side effects of psilocybin for days, weeks, months, or even years after their last time using mushrooms. For some, reliving a pleasant trip may be comforting or peaceful. However, those who have altered perceptions or relive the adverse side effects of mushrooms may be debilitated by their HPPD symptoms.
Are Magic Mushrooms Addictive?
Addiction experts believe psilocybin mushrooms are not chemically addictive, meaning people cannot become physically dependent on them. However, people may exhibit symptoms of psychological addiction to magic mushrooms. They may want to take them more often and in higher doses. Some may also want to experiment with other more potent hallucinogens as their body adapts to psilocybin.
While people are unlikely to develop physical dependence on magic mushrooms, they may experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using them. Magic mushroom withdrawal often involves periods of difficulty determining what is real and what is not, which can be very disturbing.
Get Help Now
If you or someone you love uses psilocybin, or you’re curious about the side effects of magic mushrooms, reach out to the Mandala Healing Center specialists for support. Our team is dedicated to providing holistic, person-centered substance misuse treatment and can support you as you navigate addiction recovery.