What are magic mushrooms?

Psilocybin or magic mushrooms are naturally occurring and are consumed for their hallucinogenic effects. They belong to a group of drugs known as psychedelics, which trigger changes in perception, mood and thought. 

The key ingredient in magic mushrooms is psilocybin. When psilocybin is taken, it’s converted in the body to psilocin, which is the chemical with the psychoactive properties.1

What do they look like?

Magic mushrooms look much like ordinary mushrooms. 

There are many different types of magic mushrooms. The most common ones in Australia are called golden tops, blue meanies and liberty caps.2 Magic mushrooms look similar to poisonous mushrooms that can cause a person to become very sick and can result in death.

They can also come as dried material in capsules. Synthetic psilocybin appears as a white crystalline powder that can be processed into tablets or capsules or dissolved in water.3

How are they used?

Magic mushrooms are eaten fresh, cooked or brewed into a tea. The dried version is sometimes smoked, mixed with cannabis or tobacco.

Other names

Shrooms, mushies, blue meanies, golden tops, liberty caps.

Effects of magic mushrooms

There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.

Magic mushrooms can affect everyone differently, based on:

  • size, weight and health
  • whether the person is used to taking it
  • whether other drugs are taken around the same time
  • the amount taken
  • the strength of the mushroom (varies depending on the type of mushroom)

The effects of magic mushrooms usually begin in 30 minutes when eaten, or within 5–10 minutes when taken as a soup or tea and can last approximately four to six hours.2

During this time, the person may experience:

  • euphoria and wellbeing
  • change in consciousness, mood, thought and perception (commonly called a trip)
  • dilation of pupils
  • perceptual changes, such as visual and auditory hallucinations.
  • stomach discomfort and nausea
  • headaches
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • increased body temperature
  • breathing quickly
  • vomiting
  • facial flushes, sweating and chills1,2

Overdose

The use of magic mushrooms rarely results in any life-threatening symptoms. If a large amount or a strong batch of mushrooms is consumed, the person may experience:

  • agitation
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • muscle weakness 
  • panic or paranoia
  • psychosis
  • seizures
  • coma.3,4

Bad trips

Sometimes a person may experience the negative effects of magic mushrooms and have what is called a bad trip involving the following:

  • unpleasant or intense hallucinations
  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • panic or fear1,3

Coming down

After taking magic mushrooms, delayed headaches can happen which usually do not last longer than a day.5 A person who has consumed mushrooms may experience feelings of:

  • exhaustion
  • depression
  • anxiety.2

Long-term effects

Some people who regularly use magic mushrooms may experience flashbacks involving a previous magic mushroom experience. They are usually visual distortions that involve perceptual or emotional changes. Flashbacks can occur weeks, months or even years after the drug was last taken. This can be disturbing, especially if a frightening experience or hallucination is recalled. Flashbacks can be brought on by using other drugs, stress, tiredness or exercise and usually last a minute or two.2,3

Using mushrooms with other drugs

The effects of taking magic mushrooms with other drugs − including over-the-counter or prescribed medications − can be unpredictable and dangerous, and could cause:

Magic mushrooms + ice, speed or ecstasy: Can increase the chances of a bad trip and can also lead to panic.4

Magic mushrooms + some psychiatric medications: Mushrooms should not be taken by people on psychiatric medications as a relapse or worsening of the condition could occur.1

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