Addiction Drug Use Hallucinogens What to Know About Magic Mushroom Use By Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD is a psychologist, professor, and Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Research at Royal Roads University, Canada. Learn about our editorial process Updated on July 20, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Steven Gans, MD Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Verywell / Alison Czinkota Table of Contents View All Table of Contents What Do Shrooms Do? Potential Benefits Common Side Effects Signs of Use Addiction & Withdrawal How to Get Help Frequently Asked Questions Magic mushrooms are wild or cultivated mushrooms that contain psilocybin, a naturally occurring psychoactive and hallucinogenic compound. Psilocybin is considered one of the most well-known psychedelics according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations (SAMHSA). Psilocybin is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it has a high potential for misuse and has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Press Play for Advice on Psychedelic Use Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring psychologist Brian Pilecki, shares the types of conditions psychedelics might treat, and the best resources to learn more information. Click below to listen now. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts Although certain cultures have been known to use the hallucinogenic properties of some mushrooms for centuries, psilocybin was first isolated in 1958 by Dr. Albert Hofmann, who also discovered lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Magic mushrooms are often prepared by drying and are eaten by being mixed into food or drinks. Although, some people eat freshly picked psilocybe mushrooms. Also Known As: Magic mushrooms are also known as shrooms, mushies, blue meanies, golden tops, liberty caps, philosopher's stones, liberties, amani, and agaric. Drug Class: Psilocybin is classified as a hallucinogen. Common Side Effects: Magic mushrooms are known to cause nausea, yawning, feeling relaxed or drowsy, introspective experience, nervousness, paranoia, panic, hallucinations, and psychosis. How to Recognize Shrooms Psilocybe mushrooms look like dried ordinary mushrooms with long, slender stems that are whitish-gray and dark brown caps that are light brown or white in the center. Dried mushrooms are a rusty brown color with isolated areas of off-white.Magic mushrooms can be eaten, mixed with food, or brewed like tea for drinking. They can also be mixed with cannabis or tobacco and smoked. Liquid psilocybin is also available, which is the naturally occurring psychedelic drug found in liberty caps. The liquid is clear brown and comes in a small vial. What Do Magic Mushrooms Do? Magic mushrooms are hallucinogenic drugs, meaning they can cause you to see, hear, and feel sensations that seem real but are not. The effects of magic mushrooms, however, are highly variable and believed to be influenced by environmental factors. 1:52 Click Play to Learn More About Shrooms This video has been medically reviewed by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE. A number of factors influence the effects of magic mushrooms, including dosage, age, weight, personality, emotional state, environment, and history of mental illness. While psilocybe mushrooms are often sought out for a peaceful high, shrooms have been reported to induce anxiety, frightening hallucinations, paranoia, and confusion in some. Hospital admissions related to the use of magic mushrooms are often connected to what is known colloquially as a "bad trip." What the Experts Say Magic mushrooms have been used for thousands of years for both spiritual and medicinal uses among indigenous people of America and Europe. Shrooms have a long history of being associated with spiritual experiences and self-discovery. Many believe that naturally occurring drugs like magic mushrooms, marijuana, and mescaline are sacred herbs that enable people to attain superior spiritual states. Others take magic mushrooms to experience a sense of euphoria, connection, and a distorted sense of time. The psilocybin found in shrooms is converted to psilocin in the body and is believed to influence serotonin levels in the brain, leading to altered and unusual perceptions. The effects take 20 to 40 minutes to begin and can last up to 6 hours—the same amount of time it takes for psilocin to be metabolized and excreted. Potential Benefits of Magic Mushrooms While some people take magic mushrooms solely for their peaceful high, they may also provide a few benefits that are more medicinal in nature. Medical Use Can magic mushrooms help with medical conditions? Some say yes. In 2018, researchers from Johns Hopkins University recommended reclassification of psilocybin from Schedule I to Schedule IV in order to allow for medical use. As a Schedule 1 drug, psilocybin cannot be prescribed for medicinal use. If its classification is changed, psilocybin mushrooms could then potentially be available by prescription. Researchers at Johns Hopkins found that psilocybin was an effective treatment for depression and nicotine and alcohol addictions, as well as other substance use disorders. Studies have also shown that magic mushrooms were effective for relieving the emotional distress of people with life-threatening cancer diagnoses. The Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins is also researching how psychedelics affect a variety of conditions such as: Alzheimer's disease Anorexia nervosa Opioid addiction Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome Microdosing One study found that people who self-medicated with small dosages of psilocybin were able to relieve cluster headaches while avoiding any psychoactive effects of the drug. This type of practice is often referred to as microdosing, or taking very small amounts of a drug to test its benefits while minimizing unwanted side effects. It should be noted that researchers tend to advise against self-medicating with psilocybin because, outside of a clinical setting, it may be harder to manage your anxiety while under the influence (potentially leading to a bad trip), you may take too high of a dosage, and it's hard to know the purity of the drug if you're purchasing it from an unregulated source. In addition, people with pre-existing mental health conditions may be more likely to experience adverse effects from psilocybin. Most Comprehensive Microdosing Study to Date Finds it Improves Mental Health Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy Some psychedelic agents are currently being investigated for their benefits when used in combination with psychotherapy. Psilocybin is one that is being considered as a psychedelic therapeutic for both addiction and anxiety associated with terminal illness. This therapy may work, in part, through its effects on personality. One small-scale study involving subjects with treatment-resistant depression found that, after engaging in psilocybin therapy, their neuroticism scores decreased while their scores in extraversion, openness, and conscientiousness increased. Are Psilocybe Mushrooms Legal? In 2019, Denver became the first city to decriminalize mushrooms. Oakland became the second city less than a month later. Other U.S. cities have followed suit, including Santa Cruz in California and Ann Arbor in Michigan.This does not mean that shrooms are legal, but that the city is not permitted to "spend resources to impose criminal penalties" on people in possession of the drug. However, in 2020, Oregon became the first state to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy. What Is Psilocybin Therapy? Common Side Effects of Psilocybin Mushrooms All hallucinogens carry the risk of triggering mental and emotional problems and causing accidents while under the influence. Among adolescents, magic mushrooms are frequently taken in combination with alcohol and other drugs, increasing the psychological and physical risks. The amount of psilocybin and psilocin contained in any given magic mushroom is unknown, and mushrooms vary greatly in terms of the amount of psychoactive contents. This means that it is very hard to tell the length, intensity, and type of "trip" someone will experience. Consuming shrooms can result in a mild trip, with feelings of relaxation or drowsiness, to a frightening experience marked by hallucinations, delusions, and panic. In the worst-case scenario, magic mushrooms have even been known to cause convulsions. Side effects of magic mushrooms can include both physical and mental effects. Physical effects of psilocybin mushrooms include: Dilated pupilsDrowsinessHeadachesIncreased heart rate, blood pressure, and temperatureLack of coordinationMuscle weaknessNauseaYawning Mental effects of shrooms are: Distorted sense of time, place, and reality Euphoria Hallucinations (visual or auditory) Having introspective (spiritual) experiences Nervousness Panic reactions Paranoia Psychosis More research is needed on the long-term, lasting side effects of magic mushrooms. But it has been reported that people can experience long-term changes in personality, as well as flashbacks, long after taking mushrooms. Since magic mushrooms look similar to poisonous mushrooms, poisoning is yet another potential risk of taking these drugs. Mushroom poisoning can cause severe illness, organ damage, and even death. It's also common for magic mushroom products to be contaminated. A study of 886 samples alleged to be psilocybin mushrooms were analyzed by Pharm Chem Street Drug Laboratory. Only 252 (28%) were actually hallucinogenic, while 275 (31%) were regular store-bought mushrooms laced with LSD or phencyclidine (PCP) and 328 (37%) contained no drug at all. Help for Mushroom Poisoning If you suspect that you or someone you care about has consumed a poisonous mushroom, call poison control right away at 800-222-1222. Don’t wait for symptoms to occur. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Signs of Magic Mushroom Use If your loved one is using shrooms, they may be nauseous or appear nervous or paranoid. In the case of drug use, it's always important to pay attention to any changes in sleep and eating patterns, as well as shifts in mood, personality, and social activities. There are rare but potential long-term side effects of hallucinogens, including disorganized thinking, mood changes, paranoia, and/or visual disturbances. Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) occurs when a person experiences hallucinations or visual disturbances long after using a hallucinogenic drug. These are also known as "flashbacks" and can be mistaken for a brain tumor or a stroke. You may notice that your loved one is experiencing dissociative effects of hallucinogens, which may include: AmnesiaAnxietyDepressionDifficulty breathingHallucinationsInability to moveIncrease in blood pressure, heart rate, and/or body temperatureLoss of coordinationLoss of memoryMood swingsNumbnessPanicPsychotic symptomsSeizuresSpeech difficultiesSuicidal thoughts or attemptsWeight loss If your loved one is taking mushrooms, they might display unusual behavior such as jumping out of a window or other dangerous actions. If the mushrooms were contaminated or mixed with other drugs, they may show signs of poisoning, including tachycardia (heart beating too fast), hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperthermia (body tissue becomes too hot), nausea, or vomiting. Can I Take Shrooms If I'm Pregnant or Breastfeeding? Magic Mushroom Tolerance, Dependence, and Withdrawal Like most drugs, the more you use magic mushrooms, the more tolerance you develop. Tolerance also develops quickly with regular use, meaning that with regular use, a person will need more of the drug to achieve the same effect. Developing a tolerance can be especially risky with shrooms because consuming a large amount can result in overdose symptoms which, while not fatal, can include: AgitationVomitingDiarrheaMuscle weaknessPanic or paranoiaPsychosisSeizures How Long Does Psilocybin Stay in Your System? The short-term effects of magic mushrooms typically wear off in 6 to 12 hours. But people can experience long-term changes in personality and flashbacks long after taking the drug. The average half-life of psilocybin ranges from one to two hours and it generally takes five to six half-lives for a substance to be eliminated from your system. The typical urine drug screening for employment does not test for psilocybin, but there are specific tests that can be ordered to test for it. Like many other drugs, magic mushrooms can be found in hair follicles for up to 90 days. How Long Does Psilocybin Stay in Your System? Addiction Psilocybin is not addictive and does not lead to compulsive use. This is partly because the drug can cause an intense “trip.” Plus, people can build a tolerance to psilocybin fairly quickly, making it hard to have any effect after several days of repeated use. Withdrawal While people rarely report physical symptoms of withdrawal when they stop using the drug, some experience psychological effects, which may include depression. How to Get Help for Magic Mushroom Misuse If you suspect a loved one is experimenting with or regularly using magic mushrooms, consider having a firm yet loving conversation with them about the risks of psychedelics—especially when combined with alcohol or other drugs. At this time, it’s also important to emphasize that you are there to help and support them. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. Mind in the Media: How to Change Your Mind Investigates the Promise of Psychedelics Frequently Asked Questions Are magic mushrooms safer than other hallucinogenic drugs? No. In addition to their potential to be poisonous, magic mushrooms are just as unpredictable in their effects as other drugs. Some people have reported much more intense and frightening hallucinations on magic mushrooms than on LSD. What are fly agaric mushrooms? Fly agaric mushrooms contain the psychoactive chemicals ibotenic acid and muscimol, which are known to cause twitching, drooling, sweating, dizziness, vomiting, and delirium. Fly agaric mushrooms are not the same thing as psilocybin-containing mushrooms. What to Know About Taking Magic Mushrooms for the First Time 17 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Krebs TS, Johansen PØ. Over 30 million psychedelic users in the United States. F1000Res. 2013;2:98. doi:10.12688/f1000research.2-98.v1 de Mattos-Shipley KM, Ford KL, Alberti F, Banks AM, Bailey AM, Foster GD. The good, the bad and the tasty: The many roles of mushrooms. Stud Mycol. 2016;85:125-157. doi:10.1016/j.simyco.2016.11.002 Barrett FS, Bradstreet MP, Leoutsakos JS, Johnson MW, Griffiths RR. The Challenging Experience Questionnaire: Characterization of challenging experiences with psilocybin mushrooms. J Psychopharmacol. 2016;30(12):1279-1295. doi:10.1177/0269881116678781 Daniel J, Haberman M. Clinical potential of psilocybin as a treatment for mental health conditions. Ment Health Clin. 2018;7(1):24-28. doi:10.9740/mhc.2017.01.024 Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. About. Rosenbaum D, Boyle AB, Rosenblum AM, Ziai S, Chasen MR, Med MP. Psychedelics for psychological and existential distress in palliative and cancer care. Curr Oncol. 2019;26(4):225-226. doi:10.3747/co.26.5009 Johnson MW, Griffiths RR. Potential therapeutic effects of psilocybin. Neurotherapeutics. 2017;14(3):734-740. doi:10.1007/s13311-017-0542-y Bienemann B, Ruschel NS, Campos ML, Negreiros MA, Mograbi DC. Self-reported negative outcomes of psilocybin users: A quantitative textual analysis. PLoS One. 2020;15(2):e0229067. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0229067 Tupper KW, Wood E, Yensen R, Johnson MW. Psychedelic medicine: a re-emerging therapeutic paradigm. CMAJ. 2015;187(14):1054-1059. doi:10.1503/cmaj.141124 Erritzoe D, Roseman L, Nour MM, et al. Effects of psilocybin therapy on personality structure. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 2018;138(5):368-378. doi:10.1111/acps.12904 Jo WS, Hossain MA, Park SC. Toxicological profiles of poisonous, edible, and medicinal mushrooms. Mycobiology. 2014;42(3):215-220. doi:10.5941/MYCO.2014.42.3.215 Renfroe CL, Messinger TA. Street drug analysis: An eleven year perspective on illicit drug alteration. Semin Adolesc Med. 1985;1(4):247-257. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). What are hallucinogens? Delgado J. Intoxication from LSD and other common hallucinogens. UpToDate. Martin R, Schürenkamp J, Gasse A, Pfeiffer H, Köhler H. Analysis of psilocin, bufotenine and LSD in hair. J Anal Toxicol. 2015;39(2):126-9. doi:10.1093/jat/bku141 Roberts CA, Osborne-Miller I, Cole J, Gage SH, Christiansen P. Perceived harm, motivations for use and subjective experiences of recreational psychedelic ‘magic’ mushroom use. J Psychopharmacol. 2020;34(9):999-1007. doi:10.1177/0269881120936508 Lee MR, Dukan E, Milne I. Amanita muscaria (fly agaric): From a shamanistic hallucinogen to the search for acetylcholine. J R Coll Physicians Edinb. 2018;48(1):85-91. doi:10.4997/JRCPE.2018.119 Additional Reading Drug Policy Alliance. Psilocybin mushrooms fact sheet. Johnson MW, Griffiths RR, Hendricks PS, Henningfield JE. The abuse potential of medical psilocybin according to the 8 factors of the controlled substances act. Neuropharmacol. 2018;142:143-166. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2018.05.012 National Institute on Drug Abuse. How do hallucinogens (LSD, psilocybin, peyote, DMT, and ayahuasca) affect the brain and body? By Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD is a psychologist, professor, and Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Research at Royal Roads University, Canada. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Get Treatment for Addiction Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.