Two events this week turned my attention to “Magic Mushrooms”. First, my 17 year old daughter reported that she had been offered “shrooms” by an acquaintance. Second, according to newspaper reports, police in Saugerties charged two residents with operating a marijuana farm and growing hallucinogenic mushrooms. According to newspaper reports, town and state police executed a search warrant at and discovered a large indoor cultivation operation. They seized more than 45 pounds of processed marijuana, 60 marijuana plants and a substantial quantity of mushrooms.Youth often report the belief that both marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms are “natural” and therefore harmless for them. This can increase adolescent “experimentation” or “recreational” use. In Ulster County in 2010, 7.7% of high school seniors reported having used hallucinogens at some point in their lifetime (Ulster County Youth Development Survey).
According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research, there are more than 75 known species of hallucinogenic mushrooms, and psilocybin and psilocyn are the hallucinogenic components found in them. The potency of mushrooms varies. According to the DEA, while street prices fluctuate, psilocybin mushrooms generally cost $20-40 for 1/8 ounce and $100 to $150 for an ounce. Although psilocybin and psilocyn are scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 as Schedule I drugs, the mushrooms themselves are not scheduled.
Fresh or dried psilocybin mushrooms can be ingested orally either whole (often prepared with a food item such as peanut butter or pizza to hide their bitter taste), sprinkled on top of food, or after being brewed to make a tea. Dried mushrooms can also be crushed into a powder and prepared in capsule form. Psilocybin can be consumed orally, sniffed, smoked, or injected.
Psilocybin affects the central nervous system by disturbing the normal interaction of nerve cells and the functioning of the neurotransmitter serotonin, to which it is structurally similar. Mushrooms can take 20 minutes to 2 hours to take effect, and will last for 3 to 6 hours.
Physical effects include:
· Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea
· Muscle relaxation, weakness, and twitches
· Yawning, drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, and lack of coordination
· Pupil dilation, tearing, dry mouth, and facial flushing
· Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
· Sweating followed by chills and shivering
· Numbness of tongue, lips, or mouth
· Feelings of physical heaviness or lightness and feelings of floating
Psychological effects include:
· Heightened sensory experiences and perceptual distortions (i.e. brighter colors, sharper visual definition, increased hearing acuity, more distinguished taste)
· Auditory, tactile, and visual hallucinations
· Synesthesia (melding of the senses: seeing music or hearing colors)
· Difficulty focusing, maintaining attention, concentrating, and thinking
· Impaired judgment and preoccupation with trivial thoughts, experiences, or objects
· Sense of detachment from body and surroundings and loss of boundaries between the two
· Altered perception of space and time
· Inability to distinguish fantasy from reality
· Melding of past experiences with present
· Feelings of unity with the environment
· Feelings of involvement with intense spiritual experiences
· Tension, anxiety, and restlessness
· Highly adverse reactions ("bad trip"), including frightening hallucinations, confusion, disorientation, paranoia, agitation, depression, panic, and/or terror
With regular and repeated use of psilocybin mushrooms, tolerance to the effects will occur. In addition, cross-tolerance occurs with other drugs, including LSD and mescaline. For several days following the use of mushrooms, users may experience a period of psychological withdrawal and have difficulty discerning reality.
· Nicknames for hallucinogenic mushrooms
Boomers, caps, cubes, gods flesh, liberty caps, little smoke, magic mushrooms, Mexican mushrooms, mushrooms, musk, sacred mushroom, sherm, shrooms, silly cybin, silly putty, simple simon
Director of the Ulster Prevention Council