A Brief History of Psychedelic Mushrooms – Shrooms
Psychedelic mushrooms or shrooms have been used by cultures around the globe for thousands of years. Ancient cultures in North Africa and Central America have recorded history of using the drug as a means to get high and experience psychedelic hallucinations, or as a means for spiritual revelation. Considering the effects of psychedelic mushrooms on the brain, it was thought that they brought visions sent from the Gods. As these cultures developed, psychedelic mushrooms became a strong part of their cultural traditions and spiritual development.
These cultures eventually introduced psychedelic mushrooms to European civilizations, as settlers from different countries settled in parts of Africa and the Americas and developed these parts of the world into the nations they are today. Shrooms began to become a popularly used drug in the 1950’s and 1960’s. During this time, people began to abuse psychedelic mushrooms (also known as magic mushrooms during this time period) in an effort to ‘trip’ or experience a psychedelic hallucinatory state of mind. Since then, as psychedelic mushrooms have grown in popularity as a recreational drug, there has grown a great deal of controversy as to whether they are safe to use, have harmful or helpful effects on the brain and mind, and should be legal to use in medical settings and in the general public.
There are many questions that people tend to ask when dealing with psychedelic mushrooms, like ‘are they dangerous?’ ‘do they make people go crazy?’ and ‘are they addictive?’. Depending on who you speak to, you may get different answers to these questions. The academic and professional research has found mixed results as to the safety and realistic expectations of recreationally using psychedelic mushrooms. Some professionals say that the chemical contents could be instrumental in mental health treatment of some symptoms, like depression, anxiety, and Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, overusing or misusing psychedelic mushrooms or shrooms for recreational purposes have shown to have serious and potentially permanent psychological and neurological consequences.
What Psychedelic Mushrooms (Shrooms) Do To The Brain
At one point in time medical and research professionals considered the potential of psychedelic mushrooms to be used in medical settings, but studies found that controlled use of this drug led to mental health and psychiatric issues that outweighed the hypothesized benefit to patients. Psychedelic mushrooms or shrooms are instead illegal, and commonly used as recreational drugs due to their hallucinogenic and psychedelic effects. Psychedelic mushrooms have been found to cause hallucinations. These hallucinations can be either visual or auditory. Some also report having hallucinations that are mystical and magical, along with spiritual and insightful. It is the popular belief that psychedelic mushrooms cause a higher state of consciousness and awareness, as the user experiences an altered state of reality (often referred to as ‘tripping’). However, tripping on mushrooms does not cause spiritual awakening. Instead, it prevents the brain from functioning properly, causing the illusion of a profound out-of-body experience. The tripping is the result of the way psychedelic mushrooms interact with the brain’s chemistry. Psychedelic mushrooms have a major impact on the brain’s levels of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain. The altered state of this critical functioning system of the brain results in tripping.
Psychedelic Mushrooms And Serotonin
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, which is a chemical in the brain that causes impulses to be communicated between the neurons, which are the message centers of the brain. Serotonin is responsible for maintaining regulated moods. It plays a pivotal role specifically in regulating feelings of anxiety and promoting feelings of happiness.
When psychedelic mushrooms are ingested, a chemical called psilocybin directly interacts with the serotonin receptors in the brain. The chemical composition of psilocybin is similar to the chemical composition of serotonin, so the psilocybin is able to slip into the brain’s serotonin receptors to block the serotonin from being taken back into the neurons, which are responsible for the releasing and re-absorbing of neurotransmitters.
Neurons are able to re-absorb serotonin because the receptors fit with serotonin like puzzle pieces, which allows them to be passed in and out of their respective receptors. Since psilocybin is similar to serotonin, it is able to block the re-uptake receptors, which clogs up the passages for re-absorption. When serotonin is not able to be re-absorbed back into the neuron, it remains active in the brain for too long, causing side effects like hallucinations. A high amount of serotonin can also cause confusion within the brain, making it difficult for the user to determine what is real and what is imagined in their environment. This can result in ‘bad trips’, which can be terrifying and cause a person to panic or feel paranoid.
Potential Consequences Of Mushroom Use
A trip on psychedelic mushrooms can last anywhere from two to eight hours, depending on factors like tolerance, amount consumed in a sitting, body weight, the use of other substances, and brain chemistry. The immediate effect of taking mushrooms is tripping, or getting high and having hallucinations as a result of using the drug. There are also other, more severe consequences that a person can have to face as a result of psychedelic mushroom use, like:
Psychedelic mushrooms are not considered to be physically addicting, as they do not create physical cravings or withdrawal symptoms. However, a ‘physical addiction’ is not the only way a person can become addicted to a drug. There is also the ‘psychological addiction’, which is when the user depends on using drugs like psychedelic mushrooms to cope with day-to-day stressors. This means that even though there is a low chance of physical effects, like cravings and withdrawal, there is still a potential for a psychological addiction.
Drug Induced Psychosis
A psychotic episode is an episode in which a person falls out of touch with reality. Of course, when a person is tripping they do not have a good grasp of their environment, and the hallucinations cause the user to lose touch with reality to an extent. If when using, the user experiences a ‘bad trip’, he is at high risk for developing psychosis and the resulting consequences, like panic attacks, paranoia, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder or related symptoms. These effects will persist even after the effects of the psychedelic mushrooms have worn off. In this case, the difference between tripping and a psychotic episode is that tripping is an altered state of awareness that is produced as a result of drug use. The symptoms of the trip should subside as the user sobers up. A psychotic episode will be preceded by an intense bad trip, and the symptoms will continue to manifest even after the user reaches sobriety.
Aggravated Mental Health Issues
Those who suffer from pre-existing mental health issues are especially at risk for suffering from long term consequences as a result of psychedelic mushroom use. Anyone who suffers from a mental health disorder is at high risk of worsening existing symptoms and even developing new symptoms and conditions as a result. Mental health disorders that are especially susceptible to worsening mental health conditions are those who suffer from panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, paranoid personality disorder, schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform disorder, bipolar disorder and agoraphobia.
Nsight Psychology & Addiction’s staff of professionals can help your loved one with treatment for Substance Abuse, Alcoholism, Trauma/PTSD, Depression, and/or Anxiety. Contact Nsight Psychology & Addiction at 888-557-8091 to learn more. Nsight Psychology & Addiction has locations in Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, and Santa Ana, California but most of our clients travel from out of state to take part in our programs.