What to Know About Taking Magic Mushrooms for the First Time

Safety Tips and Considerations for First-Time Mushroom Users

Psilocybe cubensis cap magic mushrooms

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Perhaps you’ve heard about the effects of psilocybin, also referred to as magic mushrooms. This psychedelic drug is literally a mushroom that is ingested either fresh or dried. Some may choose to incorporate it into food, while others will brew it into tea.

Despite this drug being currently criminalized, it is gaining mainstream attention for its therapeutic benefits, causing many to become intrigued by the possibility of taking them. This article will share everything you need to know about taking mushrooms for the first time, including benefits, considerations, and how to stay safe.

What Are Magic Mushrooms?

Magic mushrooms are wild or cultivated mushrooms that contain psilocybin, Psilocybin is a form of psychoactive compound that has natural hallucinogenic effects when ingested. Resulting in episodes of hallucinations, colloquially referred to as “trips,” the effects of mushrooms can last for hours. While hallucinating, people will experience a warped perception of time, space, and sensory experiences.

Hallucinatory episodes can cause individuals to struggle to see things as they are, making it very dangerous for one to attempt to do any sort of activity while under the influence. In fact, it can cause folks to engage in behavior they normally wouldn’t. 

Benefits of Taking Magic Mushrooms

Some are attracted to psychedelic drugs because they can boost one’s sense of creativity due to the vivid sensory experiences they bring about. For example, psychedelics first garnered mainstream attention during the 1970s counterculture movement when there was an array of art influenced by hallucinatory experiences being produced. Others are simply interested in having an experience where they are no longer present in reality, though this desire can be motivated by unresolved pain and trauma

Another reason some people are attracted to using mushrooms is their therapeutic benefits. Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is a mental health treatment garnering attention for its efficacy in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance use disorder. It also has proven successful in decreasing depressive symptoms in terminally ill patients.

Taking mushrooms therapeutically is significantly different from recreational use. When taking mushrooms in a therapeutic setting, the dosage is carefully measured, and the setting is specifically designed to facilitate a therapeutic experience. Additionally, a trained mental health clinician is present for the duration of the session to supervise and engage the client in talk therapy.

Even just one session, which can last up to eight hours, can alleviate depressive symptoms for weeks or months. In some circumstances, patients have reported having their depressive symptoms permanently resolved.

Risks of First-Time Magic Mushroom Use

While the benefits of taking magic mushrooms are especially attractive, it is important to inform yourself about the risks associated with this substance. Understanding the potential risks of using mushrooms isn’t to evoke fear. Rather, it can be comforting to have an overview of all potential outcomes before taking the plunge into a hallucinatory experience.

Hallucinogen-Persisting Perception Disorder (HPDD)

When ingesting any type of hallucinogen, it is possible to develop hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder (HPDD). This is a mental health condition where an individual will experience consistent flashbacks to their hallucinogenic experience. In some cases, it may be a matter of the trip never ending, meaning the individual never fully leaves the psychedelic state.

Seek Help Now

There is potential for hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder to become permanent and can have devastating impacts on one’s quality of life. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

Persistent Psychosis

Persistent psychosis is another risk associated with taking any hallucinogen. This is a condition that is identified by disorganized thinking, paranoia, mood shifts, and visual impairments. There also can be some short-term physical discomfort associated with psilocybin. Symptoms may include increased heart rate, nausea, increased blood pressure, and excessive sweating.

How to Take Magic Mushrooms Safely

Once you’re aware of the risks of ingesting mushrooms, you may be wondering how you can take them safely. There are multiple ways to ingest mushrooms while remaining mindful of your safety. The first is to consider having a trip sitter present. A trip sitter is a sober companion who will remain present for the duration of your psychedelic experience. They will be present to tend to any safety hazards and provide emotional support if needed.

In electing a trip sitter, it is a good idea to choose someone you trust and don't have any negative associations with. 

If you’re hoping to use mushrooms for therapeutic purposes, it is critical that you seek the support of a psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy clinician.

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is currently spearheading emerging research on the efficacy of psychedelic therapy.

A Word From Verywell

It is natural to have curiosities about psychedelics. If you’d like to move forward with ingesting mushrooms, create a safety plan before doing so. Make sure you have someone you trust that can be of support should you have a bad trip, have a plan of a safe space where you can have your trip, and consider what you would like your loved one to do to support you if an emergency came up.

Remember, mushrooms are not currently legal, so it may be worth including how you would tackle any legal issues in your safety plan.  If your desire to use mushrooms is motivated by current emotional pain, trauma, or suicidal thoughts, consider reaching out to a licensed mental health professional first. If you're in the midst of a mental health crisis, dial 988 to receive support and resources.

Crisis Support

If you're in the midst of a mental health crisis, call the number below to receive support and resources.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

6 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.
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By Julia Childs Heyl
Julia Childs Heyl, MSW, is a clinical social worker and writer. As a writer, she focuses on mental health disparities and uses critical race theory as her preferred theoretical framework. In her clinical work, she specializes in treating people of color experiencing anxiety, depression, and trauma through depth therapy and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) trauma therapy.