Shrooms, also called boomers, caps, and silly cybin, are certain types of mushrooms that cause hallucinogenic reactions in those who consume them. According to CESAR, psilocybin and psilocyn are the actual compounds that cause these effects, and they can be “found in more than 75 known species of mushrooms native to tropical and subtropical areas of South America, Mexico, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the United States.”
Psychedelic mushroom users often consider their abuse to be much less harmful than that of other drugs because the substance is organic and, according to extensive research on their use, not addictive. However, they can still have effects on an individual’s health, especially when abused often.
Physical Health Effects
The physical side effects of shrooms are often not as dangerous as those caused by other drugs. Still, abusing the substance in any way (whether the individual chooses to eat it, smoke it, sniff it, or brew it into a tea) can lead to certain physical health issues such as:
- Gastrointestinal problems
o These are not always as intense for every individual. However, a person cannot know how badly the substance will affect their body each and every time. Someone who only experiences mild nausea on their first use may undergo vomiting, painful abdominal cramps, and even diarrhea the next time they take mushrooms.
- Muscular weakness
o Some individuals also experience twitching which can be mildly uncomfortable.
o Many users experience extreme changes in temperature during their use of shrooms, which can also be discomforting.
o Dizziness, coordination problems, and drowsiness can all affect a person who has been abusing these substances. It is dangerous for an individual under the influence of shrooms to drive a car or attempt to perform any activity that heavily involves concentration.
- Increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
o This can lead to chills, sweating, rapid breathing and other such side effects. While it is not particularly dangerous in most cases, those who continually abuse these drugs may experience long-term issues as a result of these side effects.
- Lightheadedness and, in some cases, fainting
o This is an extreme effect and, like dizziness and concentration problems, can be more dangerous depending on the person’s environment when they experience it. If an individual does faint or lose consciousness while high on shrooms, they should be brought to the emergency room right away.
For the most part, these physical health effects are not permanent and do not put someone in actual danger (unless they choose to participate in activities that become dangerous as a result of their lack of concentration ability). However, abusing the drug over and over can possibly make these effects more dangerous in the long term.
Psychological Health Effects
Shrooms generally cause more effects on an individual’s mental health than on their physical health. While the abdominal cramps are often the most physically painful side effect, these drugs can also cause “acute adverse or unpleasant experiences [known] as ‘bad trips'” when abused (CESAR).
A bad trip can linger with an individual for years afterward and even cause the need for therapy if it is traumatic enough. This can severely impact the person’s mental health, even if they only have one of these adverse experiences after abusing the drug once. In addition, Brown University states, “Experiences with hallucinogens are heavily influenced by environment,” and those caused by psychedelic mushrooms in particular can be altered based on the individual’s mood, expectations, and past experiences with drugs. Because of this, psychedelic mushrooms are especially known for their unpredictability. An individual can have a good experience once with the drug, but nothing is able to guarantee that the next time they use it will be favorable as well.
The long-term use of psychedelics is also dangerous to someone’s psychological health. “Possible severe mental disturbances,” psychosis, and other issues can arise from abusing psilocybin mushrooms too frequently (California Courts). In some, extreme cases, users must check into an inpatient center to receive intensive therapy and medication treatment for these effects. Someone who experiences these types of psychoses may struggle with them for the rest of their life.
Flashbacks also occur often in individuals who have abused these drugs frequently. This can take a toll on the person’s mental health as well, even if they have stopped abusing the drug itself. “Decreased motivation” and depression have also been known to occur. According to the NIDA, some individuals even experience what is known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), which causes hallucinations and is often mistaken for neurological issues like brain tumors or strokes. Unfortunately, “There is no established treatment for HPPD,” and it must be maintained in whatever way is most effective for the individual.
Even taking psilocybin mushrooms once can cause serious psychological damage, but taking them often only strengthens the chance of this possibility.
There are also certain types of deadly mushrooms that are often mistaken for shrooms. “Misidentification of poisonous mushrooms resembling psilocybin could lead to unintentional, potentially fatal poisoning,” which is another extreme side effect of attempting to abuse this drug. Especially those who don’t know what to look for when buying mushrooms could be susceptible to this possibility, and it can be extremely dangerous for someone who does not realize what they are putting into their body.
According to Brown University, “Signs that the mushrooms are toxic include stomach pains, vomiting, and diarrhea.” Because nonpoisonous mushrooms can also cause these side effects, it may be hard to tell the difference, but it is important that someone who experiences extreme gastrointestinal issues after abusing what they believed to be psilocybin mushrooms is taken to the hospital right away. Because some types of mushrooms can be deadly, it is necessary to err on the side of caution.
The health effects caused by shrooms may not be as initially intense as those caused by other drugs (or even most other psychedelics). However, the drug can be very dangerous to a person’s physical and psychological health and cause it to deteriorate, especially over time. That is why the effects of shrooms should be taken as seriously as those of any other drug.