Psychedelic mushrooms, also referred to as psilocybin, shrooms, or magic mushrooms, are not commonly considered to be an addictive drug. However, certain individuals abuse these mushrooms regularly and other adverse effects can occur.
Why are Psychedelic Mushrooms Not Considered Addictive?
For a drug to be considered addictive in nature, it must cause compulsive, drug-seeking behavior and an inability to control use as a result of consistent abuse. Most illicit drugs, like heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine, cause this type of uncontrollable abuse that becomes worse with time. According to CESAR, “There are no reports that psilocybin mushrooms are psychologically or physically addictive, and use does not lead to dependence.”
A person may be likely to abuse this substance in the long-term, but they will experience extreme tolerance for the drug’s effects without the desire to abuse more each time. This causes addiction to be less likely to occur as many individuals will just take a voluntary break from abusing the drug in order to allow their tolerances to lessen and their perceptions to settle again. A person may also do this because, while psychedelic mushrooms do not cause dependence, they can cause withdrawal for up to several days after abuse that makes it difficult for the individual to determine what is real.
The ability to step away from the drug voluntarily, which many users choose to do at different stages of abuse, removes much of the fear of becoming addicted to psychedelic mushrooms.
Is the Drug Still Illegal?
Yes, psilocybin is still an illegal drug even though it does not commonly cause addiction. The compound has been labeled as a Schedule I substance under the DEA, although “the mushrooms themselves are not scheduled.”
Psilocybin itself is listed as an illegal compound because the effects of ingesting it can be dangerous. Hallucinations, an inability to determine reality from fantasy, and the possible consequences of an adverse drug trip (like terror, paranoia, and aggression) make the effects of this drug potentially harmful, even without the fear of addiction.
Are There Other Long-term Effects of Psychedelic Mushroom Abuse?
Yes. According to the NIDA, abusing hallucinogenic mushrooms in the long-term can cause effects such as:
- Tolerance to other drugs in the class, including LSD and peyote
- Persistent psychosis that includes
- Visual disturbances
- Mood disturbances
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, and maintaining attention
- Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) which includes
- Flashbacks to previous hallucinations
- Other visual disturbances like seeing halos or trails that are attached to existing objects
- Symptoms that can be “mistaken for neurological disorders (such as stroke or brain tumor)”
- The possibility of triggering schizophrenia, mania, or other mental illnesses in those individuals who already show signs of these problems
The issues listed above can be rare, but that does not mean regular abuse of these drugs is unlikely to have its consequences. “Some users experience such extremely unpleasant hallucinations that the fear of that experience remains with them for life” (Brown University). While psychedelic mushrooms may not be addictive, their long-term abuse can cause other problems, some of which may require intensive therapy similar to that which is used to treat addiction syndromes.