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Although it has been reported that psilocybin is not addictive, the abuse of it can still be damaging. There is help for someone who abuses psilocybin. It is important to know what kind of drug treatment to get in order to successfully stop using this drug and avoid serious side effects.
This page discusses information about psilocybin. It gives information about the history, side-effects and treatment options.
What Is Psilocybin?
Psilocybin, often referred to as mushrooms, is in a class of drugs called hallucinogens. Psilocybin is the hallucinogenic chemical from specific kinds of mushrooms, either fresh or dried. These mushrooms have thin stems and have caps with dark gills underneath. These mushrooms are most commonly found in Mexico, Central America and the United States.
Typically, this drug is taken in one of the following ways:
- Orally ingested
- Brewed in tea
- Used as a food additive to mask the bitter flavor
- Injecting mushroom extracts intravenously (rare)
Psilocybin works in the brain by activating its serotonin receptors. This most often occurs in the prefrontal cortex, affecting mood, cognition and perception. Although there are no approved medical uses for psilocybin, there have been small, strictly supervised trials regarding its effectiveness in treating:
- Cluster headaches
- End-stage cancer anxiety
- Other anxiety disorders
The effectiveness and safety as a therapeutic measure of psilocybin has been questioned by many scientists.
Because it is an illegal substance, dealers of psilocybin rarely sell it under its real name. Instead, it has picked up many street names to avoid detection by the authorities. Some of those include:
- Magic Mushrooms
- Simple Simon
- Little Smoke
- Sacred Mushrooms
- Purple Passion
- Mushroom Soup
- History Flower Flipping (mixed with MDMA)
- God’s Flesh
- Hippieflip (mixed with MDMA)
- Las mujercitas
- Mexican Mushrooms
- Silly Putty
- Sewage Fruit
The History of Psilocybin
There are some who believe that psilocybin has roots that date back to ancient civilizations, though there is no definitive evidence of that. The following is some of the history of psilocybin:
- Ancient History
- Several documents of tribal societies giving reverence to psychedelic mushrooms. These show that they used them spiritually and therapeutically for millennia.
- Different kinds of indigenous artwork in Central America shows that the people of that time thought the mushrooms were a way to communicate with the gods.
- Nahuatl language, used by the Mayan and Aztecs, named the mushrooms Teonanácatl, which translates into “flesh of the gods”.
- Siberian indigenous tribes ritualized red and white spotted hallucinogenic mushrooms, typically consumed by reindeer. This mushroom produces different effects than the psilocybin, but was also used for practical reasons.
- The Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks, who were all philosophically and scientifically advanced, also had a fondness for psychedelic mushrooms.
- In Ancient Greece, there were cults that held ritual ceremonies to worship the goddess Demeter. They used a psychoactive brew that was thought to contain a mix of psilocybin, Ergot fungus (where LSD comes from), and Amanita Muscaria mushrooms. These ceremonies were called “The Eleusinian Mysteries” and were often attended by the upper-class, scholarly, artists and philosophers such as Plato, Homer and Aristotle.
- The Egyptians had artwork showing mushrooms. They had terms for psychoactive varieties that translated to “sons of the gods” or “food of the gods”. They believed mushrooms were placed on the earth by the god Osiris since they do not grow from seeds.
- In 1799, a British family picked Liberty Caps (Psilocybe Semilanceata) from the Thames River shore and cooked them in a meal. A short while later, they started to experience pupil dilation, hysteria and euphoria.
- In 1803, a new taxonomic classification of a new species was named- Agaricus Semilanceatus. This was changed to Psilocybe Semilanceata in 1871.
- In 1957, the term “Magic Mushrooms” was introduced in a Life Magazine exposé. The author of that article, R. Gordon Wasson, and his wife had participated in an indigenous mushroom ceremony in 1955. This took place in Huautla de Jiménez in Oaxaca Mexico and was guided by Maria Sabina, a shaman.
- In 1958, Albert Hoffman, a chemist who discovered LSD, isolated and identified psilocybin and psilocin as active ingredients in the mushrooms that Wasson had been given. He successfully produced synthetic versions of both compounds and they were sold by Sandoval Pharmaceuticals. They were named Indocybin.
- Upon reading the article, Harvard professor Timothy Leary went to Mazatepec in Mexico to experience the mushrooms. When he returned, he and Richard Lapert, who also had experience with the mushrooms, founded the Harvard Psilocybin Project in 1960. They believed these could solve “the western man’s” emotional issues. At that time, psilocybin was legal and they were able to obtain pharmaceutical grade psilocybin from Sandoz. They conducted several experiments using it.
- The project had good intentions but also had problems, too. There were concerns with safety, administration protocols and abuse of power. Leary and Alpert were accused of substance abuse and were reprimanded but allowed to continue their research on the condition of their sobriety. In 1963, they were caught giving psychedelics to undergrads, even though only graduate students were allowed in the project. They were immediately fired and they moved on to their next idea- “The Zihuatanejo Project”. This was a psychedelic retreat in Mexico and did not last very long.
- In the 1960s, psychedelic drugs increased quickly.
- In 1971, the UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances banned these drugs. This convention wanted to stop the growing popularity of these drugs and the disillusionment with “the system” that usually followed using them.
- Richard Nixon agreed and passed the Controlled Substances Act in May 1972. He launched the War on Drugs.
- In 1997 at The University of Zurich, Dr. Frank Vollenweider led a team of researchers in a psilocybin study. They wanted to see whether the brain, while under the influence of psilocybin, was the same as the brain function of those with chronic schizophrenia. The findings showed significant differences. Psilocybin increased brain activity in many areas. This study was the catalyst for major studies at other institutions such as The Heffter Institute, The Beckley Foundation, Johns Hopkins University and The University of Toronto. These studies have found psilocybin to be an effective treatment in several psychological conditions.
- Because of the growing research, legalizing mushrooms is an idea that is talked about more and more in the US. New Mexico has a loophole and they are allowed to grow them. Denver, Oakland and Santa Cruz have decriminalized mushrooms. More than 100 other cities are considering the same action.
Short-term side effects
- Intensified sensory experiences, such as brighter colors, sharper sounds, etc.
- Mixed senses, such as seeing sounds or hearing colors
- A change in the perception of time
- Increased energy
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Can cause the user to feel relaxed (similar to marijuana)
- Panic reactions
- Spiritual experiences
Long-term side effects
- Visual disturbances, such as halos or trails attached to moving objects
- Disorganized thinking
- Mood disturbances
- Poisonous mushrooms that resemble psilocybin could cause unintentional death
What Is The Difference Between Abuse and Addiction?
Drug abuse and drug addiction are sometimes used interchangeably. However, they mean different things. Someone can abuse a drug but not be addicted to it.
Drug abuse, or misuse, is:
- The improper or unhealthy usage of a drug or medication
- Using it in a way in which it was not initially intended
- Using too much of a drug or medicine
- Using a drug repeatedly for pleasure, to escape reality or to relieve stress.
Drug addiction is the inability to control the impulse to use a drug. This is true even when negative consequences are present. There are significant changes in the person who is addicted. These changes are in behavior and brain function, especially reward centers and natural inhibition.
As of now, there is no evidence to show that psilocybin is an addictive substance.
What Does Psilocybin Abuse Look Like?
The abuse of psilocybin looks similar to other drug abuse symptoms but specific to this drug. Those could include:
- Using more psilocybin than intended, possibly for longer than intended
- Spending a lot of time trying to get, use and/or recover from psilocybin
- A strong urge to use
- Using it even at the expense of failed obligations, social or personal problems or psychological/physical health issues
- Using during hazardous situations, such as driving
- Giving up activities because of psilocybin use
- Repeatedly failing to cut down or quit
- Needing more and more to get the desired effect
An article from 2013 reported the following about psychedelic use in the US:
- This study compared the findings of 2010 to 2013
- Approximate lifetime psychedelic users in the US: 2010- 32 million. 2013- 33 million.
- LSD: 2010- 23 million, 2013- 22-25 million
- Psilocybin: 2010- 21 million, 2013- 20-22 million
- Mescaline: 2010- 11 million, 2013- 10-12 million
- Peyote: 2010- 6 million, 2013- 5-7 million
- Age group 30-34 had the greatest rate with males being higher than females.
- 50-64 years (baby boomers) were similar to 21-49. Age 65 and older had a low usage rate.
Treatment Offered by SpringBoard Recovery for Synthetic Cathinones Addiction
At SpringBoard Recovery, we see all kinds of people come through our doors who want recovery from different kinds of substance abuse and addictions. We want to be able to help someone who is caught in the trap is psilocybin abuse to be free from the cycle they are in. We have programs that are based on an individual’s needs.
One thing we offer is drug detox referrals. This is not required for psychedelics, but it is helpful to know that we have it because oftentimes, people are using more than one drug at the same time. If this is something a person needs, it would be the first step in rehab. This would involve being medically monitored while they go through the process. This lasts for 7-10 days.
Treatment at our facility is next… or first if no detox is needed. Our exceptional outpatient treatment program is catered to each person. During the program, each person will attend different kinds of therapy. They will have individual counseling and usually group counseling. Recovery is always the end goal.
For those who travel to Arizona from out of state, we offer sober living services. These are rehab homes available for people to live in during their treatment program. These are also available for people who live in a toxic situation or just do not have a strong support system at home.
Learn More About Psilocybin Abuse and Recovery – Get Help Today
There are many people who think psilocybin, or mushrooms, have helped them, healed them or generally made them feel better. Because it activates serotonin, the hormone responsible for mood, feelings and happiness, it might be appealing for people to continue using this drug, especially if they struggle with depression.
Hallucinogenics can have some serious side effects. They do not yet have an approved medical use and are not monitored by a federal agency. While psilocybin is not addictive, abuse of this drug is a possibility. If you believe you have a problem with mushrooms, it is best to talk with a professional. They can help you recover.
Do you have questions about psilocybin usage? Do you want to get proper treatment? If so, we are here to help. We can help you take steps to get your recovery started right away. Please contact us today.
- Department of Justice: https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Psilocybin-2020_0.pdf
- United States Drug Enforcement Administration: https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/psilocybin
- Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/308850#effects
- National Drug Intelligence Center: https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs6/6038/index.htm#called
- Double Blind: https://doubleblindmag.com/the-definitive-history-of-psilocybin-mushrooms/
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/hallucinogens-dissociative-drugs/how-do-hallucinogens-lsd-psilocybin-peyote-dmt-ayahuasca-affect-brain-body
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/science-drug-use-addiction-basics
- US National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3917651/
- Hormone Health Network: https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/glands-and-hormones-a-to-z/hormones/serotonin