What are magic mushrooms?
Magic mushrooms commonly known shrooms or Psilocybin mushrooms, are a polyphyletic, informal group of fungi that contain psilocybin and psilocin. Biological genera containing psilocybin mushrooms include Copelandia, Gymnopilus, Inocybe, Panaeolus, Pholiotina, Pluteus, and Psilocybe. Some mushrooms that look like psilocybin mushrooms are poisonous. If you eat a poisonous mushroom, you could damage your liver or even die.
What does it look like?
Many poisonous mushrooms look very similar to ‘magic mushrooms’ and it’s easy for pickers to mistake them. People have fallen severely ill or even died from eating a poisonous mushroom. Magic mushrooms are often sold raw or dried. In the UK, the most common types are liberty caps (Psilocybe semilanceata) and fly agaric (Amanita muscaria).
- Liberty caps look like small tan-coloured mushrooms
- Fly agarics look like red and white spotted toadstools
It’s important to know that some types of magic mushroom are stronger than others. For example, the fly agaric mushroom is usually more potent than the liberty cap mushroom.
Liquid psilocybin is another way of taking magic mushrooms. It’s made by extracting psilocybin, the naturally occurring psychedelic drug found in mushrooms like liberty caps, and is a clearish pale brown colour. It comes in vials (small bottles).
What does it taste/smell like?
Liberty caps are usually eaten raw and have a strong earthy taste and rubber-like texture – which makes them very chewy. They don’t taste like the mushrooms you cook with at home, and some people try to hide the flavour by putting them in an omelette or in tea.
How do people take it?
By eating it: After picking, liberty caps are often eaten raw or are dried out and stored. People don’t tend to eat fly agaric mushrooms raw as they can make you feel very sick.
By drinking it: Some people make tea from dried mushrooms.
By taking drops of liquid psilocybin: Liquid psilocybin is made by extracting psilocybin, the naturally occurring psychedelic drug found in mushrooms like liberty caps.
How does magic mushrooms make you feel?
The strength of magic mushrooms varies depending on their freshness, the season and where they grow. It’s very difficult to predict the strength of magic mushrooms. For most people, the world appears distorted when they take mushrooms. Colours, sounds, objects and even time can all seem very different. Some people get mild hallucinations, which are also called ‘visuals’.
Taking mushrooms can make you feel:
- very giggly
- in awe of the people and things around you
It can also make you feel:
- like vomiting
How you feel will be affected by how much you take, your surroundings, who you’re with and how comfortable you are with them, as well as by your mood. So if you’re in a bad mood, feeling worried or depressed, the magic mushrooms might just make those feelings worse.
How does magic mushrooms make people behave?
This depends on how many magic mushrooms the person takes. If the person takes a small dose of mushrooms you may not even notice that they’re on it. People who take larger doses of mushrooms can act unpredictably. They can laugh a lot, become fixated on certain things, be emotional or get paranoid.
How long the effects last and the drug stays in your system?
How long the effects last and the drug stays in your system depends on how much you’ve taken, your size, whether you’ve eaten and what other drugs you may have also taken. If you feel like you’re having – or are going to have – a bad trip, let your friends know and get their help. Go to a nice quiet spot where you feel safe and can relax.
How long will it be detectable?
Psilocybin is detectable for up to 8 hours. How long a drug can be detected for depends on how much is taken and which testing kit is used. This is only a general guide.
Physical health risks
The biggest danger to your health when taking magic mushrooms is eating a poisonous mushroom by mistake. There are many types of mushroom in the UK and some, like the fly agaric, can kill you. If you have eaten poisonous mushrooms you’ll soon know, and you’ll need to get medical help as soon as possible. Always keep an example of the mushroom you’ve eaten so doctors can identify it.
Eating magic mushrooms can make you:
- have diarrhoea
- get stomach pains
Mental health risks
If you have any mental health issues, magic mushrooms can make them worse.
Eating magic mushrooms can make you:
- have a bad trip, which can be frightening and unsettling
- get flashbacks that are frightening or unsettling
- lose complete control of what you’re doing, and put you at risk
Is it dangerous to mix with other drugs?
Yes, anytime you mix drugs you take on new risks. Some drugs are riskier to mix than others, avoid taking mushrooms with:
- amphetamines (speed)
Can you get addicted?
Magic mushrooms are not addictive, but as with LSD, you can become tolerant to the effects quite quickly – and that means you’ll need to take more to get the same effect as before.
The law and Magic mushrooms
This is a Class A drug, which means it’s illegal to have for yourself, give away or sell.
Possession can get you up to 7 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.
Supplying someone else, even your friends, can get you life in prison, an unlimited fine or both.
Like drink-driving, driving when high is dangerous and illegal. If you’re caught driving under the influence, you may receive a heavy fine, driving ban, or prison sentence.
If the police catch people supplying illegal drugs in a home, club, bar or hostel, they can potentially prosecute the landlord, club owner or any other person concerned in the management of the premises.
What are the short-term effects of mushrooms?
- Mushrooms affect everyone differently depending on:
- how much you take
- where you are
- what you expect
- your age and weight
- what you’ve had to eat around the same time
- past drug use
- your personality
You can feel the effects of mushrooms in about 30 minutes and they last about 3 to 6 hours. The effects are strongest (the peak) during the first 3 to 4 hours. Mushrooms can change the way you see, smell, hear, taste, and touch (e.g., you might think you can see music or hear colours). Your body might feel very heavy or very light. You might feel like you are having a magical or religious experience. While taking mushrooms, you might also:
- have high blood pressure
- have a faster heart rate
- feel dizzy or light-headed
- shiver and have the chills
- feel anxious
- have an upset stomach (nausea) or vomit
- have a numb tongue and mouth
Sometimes the effects of mushrooms can be overwhelming and scary (a bad trip). If someone is having a bad trip, try to help them with calm reassurance.
What are the long-term effects of mushrooms?
Don’t use mushrooms if you are pregnant. It is not known how mushrooms affect pregnant women and the growing baby. Mushrooms sometimes have other drugs added that can harm your baby. Taking mushrooms with other drugs or alcohol may increase your risk for other health problems.
Can I develop a tolerance or get addicted to mushrooms?
You can build up a tolerance to mushrooms after using every day for as few as 3 or 4 days. This means you need to take more and more of the drug to get “high” like you did the first time. If you use mushrooms for several days in a row (continuous use), you can develop a complete tolerance. If you use mushrooms regularly, you can become mentally dependent on the way mushrooms make you feel.
Often, drug users develop serious personal problems. Using drugs or getting high can become more important than your family and friends. You might continue to use drugs even when you are doing badly at work or school. This can cause money, spiritual, and legal problems. You may lose people who are important to you, lose your job, or get kicked out of school.