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Key Points

  • Psilocybin mushrooms, or magic mushrooms, are natural psychoactive and hallucinogenic substances that produce a high.
  • Mushrooms alter thought and perception and may produce hallucinations.
  • Psilocybin overdoses are possible, but not often life-threatening.
  • Psilocybin has other risks, including accidental poisoning or long-term psychiatric problems.
  • Mixing psilocybin with other drugs can cause dangerous side effects.

What Is Psilocybin?

Commonly known as shrooms or magic mushrooms, psilocybin mushrooms are a naturally occurring psychoactive and hallucinogenic substance that produces a high when consumed.[1] They’re one of the best-known psychedelics and are generally regarded as a “peaceful high.”

Psilocybin is not without risks, however. Technically, you can overdose on shrooms and other hallucinogenics, though it’s not quite the same as overdoses on other substances like cocaine or heroin.

What Is Psilocybin?

Psilocybin comes from certain types of psilocybe mushrooms. It’s metabolized in the body to produce the active drug psilocybin, which has a hallucinogenic effect. Mushrooms are psychedelic drugs, which means they affect all the senses, alter thought and perception, and can cause hallucinations.[2]

Magic mushrooms, as they’re commonly known, are eaten fresh, cooked, or brewed into tea. The dried version may be smoked or mixed with cannabis or tobacco.

Effects of Psilocybin

Hallucinogenic substances like mushrooms can alter the perception of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. They can produce hallucinations or the sensation of things that aren’t real.

Mushrooms have been used for thousands of years for spiritual and therapeutic purposes, particularly in spiritual rituals and self-discovery.[3] Many believe that naturally occurring substances like psilocybin are sacred and allow people to reach enhanced spiritual states. Others may take psilocybin for euphoria.

The short-term effects of psilocybin include:[4]

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Euphoria
  • Relaxation and wellbeing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Impaired judgment
  • Poor coordination

The effects of mushrooms kick in after about 30 to 40 minutes and can last up to 6 hours. The dosage, side effects, and purity are often unknown, however, so the effects can be unpredictable.
In addition, psilocybin can affect everyone differently based on:[5]

  • Age
  • Height and weight
  • General health
  • Whether the person is used to it
  • Other drugs taken at the same time
  • The strength of the mushroom
  • The environment where it’s consumed

Can You Overdose on Mushrooms?

The use of magic mushrooms doesn’t often have life-threatening symptoms. If a large amount or particularly strong batch is consumed, you may experience:[6]

  • Agitation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Paranoia
  • Panic
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Coma[6]

There’s also a “bad trip,” which is an acute adverse psychological reaction to a hallucinogen or a negative experience upon taking a substance. A bad trip may include:[7]

  • Unpleasant or intense hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Panic or fear[7]

Once the effects of psilocybin begin to wear off, feelings of exhaustion, depression, and anxiety can occur. Sometimes, people who take psilocybin regularly can experience flashbacks to other times they’ve taken mushrooms.[8] These flashbacks can occur weeks, months, or years after taking mushrooms and can be a frightening or disturbing experience.

Impact of Mood and Environment

Impact of Mood and Environment

Psychoactive drugs that impact the mental state can have effects that vary by mood (the set) or the environment where they consume them (the setting).[9] Set is the person’s state of mind, previous encounters with psychedelic drugs, and the expectations of the experience. For example, feeling stress or anxiety before using mushrooms may lead to a bad trip.

Setting is the environment in which someone takes a psychedelic drug. Whether the setting is familiar or they’re comfortable with the people around them, the type of music, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, or the light can affect the experience. Taking mushrooms in a calm, quiet environment can lead to a more pleasant experience, whereas being a noisy, crowded place can lead to a negative experience.

Drug Interactions

Taking too much or extremely potent mushrooms may not lead to life-threatening symptoms, but combining them with other drugs can.[10]

Magic mushrooms with meth or ecstasy can increase the chances of panic and a bad trip.

Magic mushrooms with psychiatric medications can cause a relapse or worsening of the existing condition.

What Are the Risks of Psilocybin?

The main risk of taking mushrooms is that some types look similar to other types of mushrooms that are poisonous. The most dangerous species are Amanita, Gyromitra, and Cortinarius.[11] It’s crucial to know what you’re taking and ensure that it’s safe. Eating a poisonous mushroom can lead to severe symptoms like anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction), collapse, or respiratory distress.[12]

Another risk is taking a drug that’s not psilocybin. Some substances sold as psilocybin are store-bought mushrooms that are laced with PCP, LSD, or other substances.[13]

In rare cases, people who use magic mushrooms regularly may experience hallucinogenic persisting perception disorder, a condition that causes sensory disturbances even when they haven’t taken the drug.[14] The symptoms can include trails with moving objects, intensified colors, halos, and afterimages that can last for weeks, months, or even years.

Are Mushrooms Addictive?

Psychedelic mushrooms are not considered physically or psychologically addictive.[15] They do have the ability to cause tolerance, however, which means people need higher and higher doses to get the same effect. This can increase the risk of a bad trip and overdose.

Though psilocybin is not known to cause any withdrawal symptoms, people still have to “come down” from the effects of the drug. This can cause headaches, depression, and anxiety.

Unfortunately, many people who use mushrooms use other drugs, including drugs that can have a serious interaction with psilocybin. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, help is available. Addiction treatment programs are based on your individual needs and goals, so you can address any drug use and get on the road to recovery.

Take the First Step to Recovery

Psilocybin is thought of as safe, but it has significant risks – some that are worsened with polysubstance use. if you need help with drug abuse or addiction, contact us at The Heights to learn more about our addiction treatment plans.

Frequently Asked Questions About Shrooms and Shroom Overdose

Shrooms aren’t sold or used in a regulated tablet or liquid form, so it can be difficult to determine how much psilocybin is actually in them. This is especially true of organic mushrooms. In addition, each strain of psilocybin mushrooms has its own potency.
A regular dose of psilocybin is about 25 mg.[16] Assuming this approximate dose applies to all strains of mushrooms, then taking double or greater the 25 mg can increase the chances of experiencing a bad trip or overdose.

No, psilocybin mushrooms are not poisonous, but it’s easy to mistake poisonous strains of mushrooms for psilocybin mushrooms. Mushroom poisoning can be life-threatening, depending on the strain.

Shrooms may be naturally occurring in the wild and a staple of many spiritual practices all over the world, but they’re not a harmless high. Overdose, bad trips, and mistaken poisoning are all risks, not to mention that mushrooms are largely illegal in the US.

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[1] Psilocybin. DEA. (n.d.). Retrieved from on 2023, September 13.

[2][3][4] Scribd. (n.d.). Psilocybin Mushrooms Factssheet final PDF. Scribd. Retrieved from on 2023, September 13.

[5][6][7][8][9][10][15] Psilocybin (magic mushrooms). Psilocybin – Alcohol and Drug Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved from on 2023, September 13.

[11] Toxic mushrooms. (n.d.). Retrieved from on 2023, September 13.

[12] Jo, W.-S., Hossain, M. A., & Park, S.-C. (2014, September). Toxicological profiles of poisonous, edible, and medicinal mushrooms. Mycobiology. Retrieved from on 2023, September 13.

[13] Hallucinogenic mushrooms drug profile. EMCDDA home page. (n.d.). Retrieved from on 2023, September 13.  

[14] Kurtom, M., Henning, A., & Espiridion, E. D. (2019, February 14). Hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder in a 21-year-old man. Cureus. Retrieved from on 2023, September 13.

[16] MacCallum, C. A., Lo, L. A., Pistawka, C. A., & Deol, J. K. (2022, December 1). Therapeutic use of psilocybin: Practical considerations for dosing and administration. Frontiers in psychiatry. Retrieved from on 2023, September 13. 

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