Hallucinogenic magic mushrooms in a science kitOne of the biggest myths that persists about drugs today is that most hallucinogenic drugs are not dangerous to users. A major part of this myth is that many of the most popular types of hallucinogenic drugs are naturally occurring, and the correlation with “natural” makes people believe that it couldn’t be that harmful to them.

However, just because a drug is naturally occurring, it doesn’t mean that this is a good basis on whether or not it is dangerous to take. Indeed, there is a good reason that most naturally occurring hallucinogenic drugs are controlled substances in the United States. Of all of these drugs, the most common naturally occurring hallucinogen is psilocybin, which is better known by the name “magic mushrooms”.

Dangers of psilocybin

Short term effects: Although mushrooms are certainly not as dangerous as other types of controlled substances, there are definitely still short term effects that could be harmful to users of psilocybin. In terms of physical, toxic damage, mushrooms don’t have much effect on any major organs in the body. However, the mental effects of mushrooms can lead users to experience paranoia and anxiety. These negative emotions, when paired with the hallucinogenic properties of mushrooms, can be quite severe, and cause headaches and nausea. In terms of serious dangers, severe injury or death while under the influence of mushrooms can occur through behavioral problems, depending what a person does while they are hallucinating.

Long term effects: While there are no notable physical long term effects of taking psilocybin, continuous use of mushrooms can lead to several adverse effects. In particular, the anxiety and paranoia that can occur from a bad trip can start to bleed into everyday life, leading to depression. It can be hard to predict the effect of magic mushrooms, since they alter the chemistry in your brain in unexpected ways. The truth is that the emotional effects of long term mushroom usage can affect different people in different ways.

Cultural aspects of mushrooms

In the United States, mushrooms, along with other types of hallucinogenic drugs, are heavily used within certain subcultures. Rave culture in the United States is particularly fond of psilocybin, along with substances like acid and ecstasy. Through the 1950’s and 1960’s, the usage of psilocybin began to become a regular occurrence in the United States, as well as in many European countries, especially the UK.