Psychoactive Drug: Mushrooms

By: Elizabeth Spain

Description

The active chemical in mushrooms is psilocybin, making the drug a hallucinogen. Another chemical that is also in mushrooms but has a smaller presence is psilocin. Both psilocybin and psilocin alter the way the the brain perceives reality. Slang terms for mushrooms include caps, boomers, magic mushrooms, and the most common term "shrooms".

Ways to Ingest Mushrooms

Eating them- It is possible to treat the mushrooms before ingestion. Treating includes cooking, freezing, and drying them. When boiled, people can put them into tea for easier ingestion or after being cooked they can be added to other foods in order to cover their bitter flavor.

Smoking- Another method of ingestion is to grind the mushrooms and packing them together in order to smoke them.

For "recreational use" people will often take about 1-5 grams of dry mushrooms. However, freshly picked mushrooms will be taken is dosages that are generally about ten times higher than that of the treated mushrooms (dosages will be about 10-50 grams).

Medicinal Uses of Mushrooms

Currently there are no medicinal uses for mushrooms specifically. However in the 1960's doctors looked at psilocybin as a method of helping with psychotherapeutic and experimental purposes. Recently, psilocybin has been though of to help with various compulsive disorders. Other hallucinogenic drugs that contain psilocybin have been studied as a possible treatment to certain psychiatric disorders but, no great progress has been made.


Alteration of Consciousness

Mushrooms disrupt the way that the brain's nerve cells interact with serotonin, a neurotransmitter. Because serotonin affects mood and arousal, this disruption severely changes the way that one views reality. When one is on a trip from the mushrooms, their brain activity is dulled specifically in regions strongly connected to senses and the emotions that go along with them. A very strong sense that is altered be ingesting mushrooms is sight, users will often see colors differently and much more vibrantly than with normal vision. By "cutting" the connectivity of the senses to the rest of the brain, one's perception of reality is significantly altered.


Effects of Mushrooms

When on a trip from the mushrooms, people can experience a loss of coordination, feelings of paranoia, dry mouth, chills, weakness, and due to the altered sense of reality, people have a high potential of being involved in dangerous situations and accidents. On a long term scale, people have tendencies to have flashbacks to their trips at random times later in life, possible birth defects, and if used very often the user could develop psychosis, a mental disorder in which the patient hallucinates and loses touch with reality as they did in the trip.


Myth

Mushrooms are often believed to be a "safer" drug than other hallucinogens merely because it is a plant rather than a chemical. This is a dangerous myth because, in fact, mushrooms have been discovered to be equally as dangerous as other chemical hallucinogens including LSD.

Dependence

Studies have shown that it is just about impossible to become physically addicted to mushrooms, however it is very possible and even probable that one can become psychologically addicted to mushrooms. Psychological addiction occurs when one believes that they need to be "tripping" all the time in order to live. This happens more easily when people use this drug to escape from emotions that are difficult to deal with or to forget about problems that they do not want to face.


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