ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Many mushrooms have poisons which can do permanent harm to the body and, in some cases, even be fatal. This article aims to teach you the potential dangers as well as how to get emergency help. We invite your questions at the end.
ESTIMATED READING TIME: LESS THAN 10 MINUTES.
Table of Contents:
- How Do Mushrooms Work?
- Wrong Types
- Main Poisonous Reactions
- Emergency Help
- Long-Term Abuse Effects
- Addiction? How?
- Addiction Treatment Options
- How Treatment Works
- Your Questions
How Do Mushrooms Work?
- Psilocybe cubensis
- Psilocybe semilanceata
In fact, mushrooms are known to be psychoactive; they contain psilocybin (the “magic” in “magic mushrooms”), a psychoactive chemical found in natural fungi. When ingested, the main ingredient psilocybin breaks down and produces psilocin. Psilocin is a drug that triggers mind-altering effects in the user such as:
- A change in perception and time
- High levels of emotions and sensory experiences
- Psychological regression
- Spiritual experiences
Though many people credit mushrooms for giving them great experiences, it’s important to note the risks while you’re on mushrooms or after the high is over:
- “Bad trip” experiences which can be defined as a very unpleasant high.
- Development of anxiety, panic attacks, or other mental health issues.
- Persistent psychosis.
- Possibility of taking a mushroom that holds poisonous properties.
- Recurring flashbacks, an impairing condition some users feel long after their psilocybin use.
Certain conditions such as paranoia, turbulent mood, muddled thought pattern, and visual disruptions have been known to occur due to magic mushroom use. In fact, mental health issues can be triggered in people who take mushrooms, as psilocybin alters the brain’s chemistry. Furthermore, if a person were to take mushrooms in public and cause obscene behaviors due to psilocybin, they could face legal problems.
What Are the Wrong Types of Mushrooms?
Let’s just say, there are a variety of the wrong types of mushrooms – around 800 new species are registered annually. It’d be impossible to list them all in this one article. To simplify,
The wrong types of mushrooms are those which can either cause a poisonous or fatal reaction.
There are 14 particular types of mushrooms which are known to cause poison reactions. Within those types, there are 10 patterns which are related to a mycotoxin reaction – one of which is the hallucinogenic properties of psilocybin.
Amanitin Poisoning and Fatality
10% of people within America and Canada die due to ingesting mushrooms with this kind of poison. Therefore, it’s very important to seek medical attention as the following can happen:
- Within 6 to 24 hours after consumption, the toxins will begin to destroy the kidney and liver. It should be noted you probably won’t feel anything uncomfortable during this period.
- In the following 24 hours, you’ll experience heavy vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and extreme abdominal cramps.
- The 24 hours after, you’ll begin to recover.
- Afterwards, without the right kind of treatment, the kidney and liver will fail and death tends to occur. Blood begins to internally spill out and clots form.
If you or anyone you know has eaten a mushroom they aren’t sure about, it’s vital you seek medical attention. It should also be noted that in heavily serious instances, the individual will experience diarrhea after 6 hours of consumption.
Copring poisoning occurs when you drink alcohol after eating specific types of mushrooms, such as Inky Caps (Coprinopsis atramentaria). Symptoms include:
- Heavy limbs
- Tachycardia (racing heart) and palpitations
- Tingling arms and legs
This toxin has been known to cause severe effects in some people and minors effects in others. This is due to the fact that it has a low boiling point. However, since the risk of fatal effects is measured purely on whether the mushroom is boiled or not, this isn’t something to mess around with.
People who consume will feel symptoms within 2 to 24 hours and can expect the following:
- Abdominal pain
Death is prominently a possibility when a large amount of Gyromitrin is consumed, such as for food. Luckily, treatment is widely available. Consult a doctor if you’ve been led to believe you or a loved one has eaten a mushroom containing Gyromitrin.
This toxin and its derivatives will cause the body to react within 30 minutes to 2 hours after consumption and can be expected to last for several hours. The following symptoms will occur:
- Visual distortion
Luckily, there are no cases of death from this toxin. However, it has been known leave people in states similar to a coma for up to 24 hours. Due to the danger of this, it’s important to get medical treatment if you begin feeling the above symptoms from ingesting a mushroom.
If you were to eat a mushroom containing this poison, it would attach to your involuntary nervous system within 15-30 minutes. Symptoms which can occur are:
- Decreased blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive salivation
- Irregular pulse
- Lactation (only in pregnant women)
- Visual Disturbances
This is another poisonous reaction in which most people recover. However, if the case is severe enough or if you’ve had respiratory problems in the past, respiratory failure is a possibility which can result in death.
Orellanine Poisoning and Kidney Failure
The problem with this toxin is these poisoning will not appear until some time after ingestion (sometimes up to 3 weeks) and the condition is very serious. Typically, after three days, the person who ingested it will feel:
- Constant urination
- Evidence or progression of kidney failure
- Extreme thirst
- Feelings of coldness/shivering
The biggest issue with Orellanine is there’s been no discovered treatment. Still, people have been known to recover when their kidney function is strong.
If you’re interested in learning more about the wrong type of mushrooms, The North American Mycological Association has compiled a list of common symptoms which occur. Plus, they’ve invited people who’ve experienced mushroom poisoning (whether small or big) to post about their experiences in order to increase our understanding of mushroom reactions.
Main Poisonous Reactions
Poisonous reactions include:
This is the most common poisonous reaction and usually occurs within 20 minutes to 4 hours after ingesting the mushrooms. Symptoms include:
Though this isn’t the most dangerous reaction, people can experience dehydration if not treated properly. Furthermore, there are instances of severe cases which require hospitalization.
Inside the mushrooms Amanita smithiana, A. proxima, and A. pseudoporphyria, there is an unknown toxin that manifests symptoms similar to Orellanine poisoning (see below), but are much more quick to set in. 4-11 hours after ingestion, a person who’s consumed any of the three mushrooms above will feel the following:
- Kidney failure
- Gastrointestinal distress
- Warm feelings
You should seek medical help as soon as possible if you or a loved one believes they consumed Amanita smithiana, A. proxima, or A. pseudoporphyria. They are found in America’s Pacific Northwest.
When it comes to accidentally consuming a poisonous mushroom, you’ll most likely need to visit the emergency room as soon as possible. This is due to the fact that symptoms can kick in quickly. Many times, the person who ate the mushroom isn’t entirely aware of the toxicity.
There are some cases where an emergency room isn’t necessary – where the harm caused by the poisons isn’t severe – however, unless you’re an expert on fungi species, the risk isn’t worth it.
Or, if you think that someone has eaten a wild mushroom, call Poison Control right away at 1-800-222-1222. Poison specialists will tell you exactly what to do. They will work with mycologists (mushroom identification experts) to find out what kind of mushroom it is. They will also work with the emergency room staff so you can get proper treatment.
Long-Term Abuse Effects
It’s still not entirely clear what the long-term effects of psilocybin are. In more recent years, scientists are looking into the medical benefits of psilocybin; research targets whether or not mushrooms can be used for anxiety, addiction, and PTSD. In one study, people who were resistant to cluster headache and migraine medication are finding psilocybin to bring long-term relief.
Though research is aiming to find the good in these drugs, there’s always the flip side of the coin: hallucinations and mental illness. Especially for those who seek out mushrooms recreationally, rather than medically. Here are some of the main long-term effects of overuse of mushrooms:
One of the biggest long-term concerns is flashbacks (also known as hallucinogenic-induced persistent perception disorder). This is a condition in which people will re-encounter the effects of their mushroom experience even if they haven’t used for a long time. Not only can this be frightening for people to experience, a flashback can also come at inappropriate times (such as a job meeting, family get together, etc.)
2. Mental illness triggers
Furthermore, there’s a chance that flashbacks are an experience of mental illness which has developed due to an individual’s psilocybin use, such as schizophrenia. Again, since the research isn’t conclusive, not much is known about why this occurs in certain individuals. We do know that it’s more likely to happen in people who’ve used chronically and experienced “bad trips”. There’s also connections to polydrug use, such as taking mushrooms with alcohol and other psychedelics. Lastly, people who experience flashbacks generally have other mental disorders, such as anxiety.
3. Dependence and addiction
Historically speaking, psychedelic mushrooms have been used for medical treatment, healing ceremonies, and spiritual rituals. However, most people DO NOT KNOW THAT PSILOCYBIN holds the potential for abuse. When someone seeks out mushrooms again and again, they face a high risk of becoming dependent on the experience. So, just like any psychoactive substance, regular use of mushrooms can lead to a psychological dependence or addiction.
How Does Someone Become Addicted to Mushrooms?
So, how can someone get addicted to magic mushrooms?
Unlike other drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, magic mushrooms do not cause a physical dependence. In other words, the body won’t adapt to the chemical structure of psilocybin and, therefore, feel a necessity for it when the drug wears off. Still, this isn’t to say the mind isn’t affected. In fact, since magic mushrooms are dominantly a psychoactive drug, the mind can form a habit of psychological dependence.
Indeed, a psychological dependence is very much a possibility. Since psilocybin is a psychoactive drug, it changes patterns within the brain which hold the potential for someone wanting to come back for more. These changes can leave someone feeling dissatisfied or variant without mushrooms in their life.
In turn, this leads individuals to use mushrooms as a means of dealing with life stressors (such as home, school, or work responsibilities). This results in compulsive behaviors which can spark cravings and, in the case of psychedelic substances, mood differences without the drug.
If you’re curious as to whether you or a loved one has an addiction or dependence to mushrooms, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you use psilocybin to deal with life stressors (i.e. school, work, relationships)?
- Have you found you function better when under the influence of psilocybin?
- Do you become anxious or distressed when you can’t use psilocybin?
- Have you been on the lookout for psilocybin when you’re experiencing stress?
- Do you find yourself only fantasizing about your psilocybin use rather than thinking about realistic, possible negative effects it could be having on you?
- Do you engage in risky conduct due to your psilocybin use?
If you’ve answered yes to any of the above questions, you or your loved one is most likely facing addiction. In order to get help, you should consult a doctor and seek a medical professional for the right treatment. You can also contact us at the phone number listed on this page.
Addiction Treatment Options
When it comes to psilocybin mushroom addiction treatment, you have a variety of options at your disposal. To understand which treatment is best for you, it’s important you understand your addiction, too.
Everyone experiences a different kind of dependence on their drug of choice. In terms of magic mushrooms, some people use to escape reality, while others use to cope with emotions.
So, where do you begin to look for help? You may want to seek out the following options as a means of both developing a better understanding of your addiction as well as how your treatment will work:
- Contact a doctor or a physician to get the best references for addiction treatment centers that are near your living area.
- Check different types of treatment programs and their requirements, so you can choose which one best suits your needs.
- Look for support groups that will be part of your treatment program.
- Try to find contacts from the most competent and experienced clinical psychologists.
If you’re looking to reach out to a Helpline for your mushroom addiction, here are a few more options to look into:
- National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI) 1-800-729-6686
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence HopeLine 1-800-475-HOPE (4673)
- National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Service 1-800-622-4357
- National Institute on Drug Abuse Drug and Treatment Information 1-800-622-4357
- National Suicide Prevention Helpline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 1-800-SUICIDE (784- 2433)
- Substance Abuse Helpline (available 24/7) 1-800-923-4327
- Relapse Prevention Hotline 1-800-RELAPSE (735-2773)
Or, you can search for doctors, psychologists, or psychiatrists near you:
- Addiction doctors (find an ABAM specialist near you)
- Psychotherapists and counselors (find an APA psychologist member near you)
- Psychiatrists (find an ABA psychiatrist near you)
Furthermore, you can always give us a call on the hotline number on this page. We’re here to help.
How Treatment Works
A reputable addiction treatment programs will work with you and your specific case. In a reputable treatment facility, you can expect the following information to be taken in order for the professionals to find out more about your addiction:
- How much/long/often you used and abused magic mushrooms.
- Different roots within your life which may have caused addictive behavior.
- Past traumatic experiences (if any).
- Your history and family’s history of drug abuse.
- Your personal and emotional issues.
- Your unique treatment goals.
Then, you’ll receive therapies that are fairly common when it comes to drug abuse. This is especially true when it comes to people who struggle with magic mushroom addiction as the core problem is psychological. The goal of therapies is to help you handle day-to-day emotions without the help of psychoactive drugs. When entering a treatment facility, you can expect to be offered the following:
- Education about drug abuse and the damaging effect over your health
- Individual and Group Counseling
- Medication Assisted therapy
- Integrated or Dual Diagnosis Therapy (if need for co-occurring mental health issues)
- Relapse prevention training
- Aftercare services
If you have any more questions concerning what to do if you take a poisonous mushroom or mushroom addiction treatment, we invite you to ask them below. If you have any advice to give on these topics, we’d also love to hear from you. We try to get back to everyone in a timely and personal manner.