07 February 2006

Magic mushrooms

The use of magic mushrooms is not widespread in South Africa. But there are people who end up in drug rehabs because of them. And they're very risky for those with mental problems.

Alternative names: Psilocyben mushrooms, shrooms, mushies, cubes, boomers, liberty caps.

Many different mushroom species can be classified as magic or psilocyben mushrooms. Most of them are small and of a brown or tanned colour and cannot easily be distinguished from other species, some of which are poisonous.

Magic mushrooms can be cultivated and can also grow naturally in the wild. They are usually not sold on the street, but are distributed through informal structures, says Bruce Gillespie, editor of RaveSafe.

They are usually sold as a few grams of dried mushrooms in a bankie, (small plastic bag.) They can be consumed raw or in powder form. Due to an unpleasant taste, the powder is often mixed with teas or other hot drinks.

According to Gillespie, varieties of mushroom include kinsa, Drakensberg, and the most popular, Mexican.

Effects of magic mushrooms
It can take anything from 15 to 60 minutes for the effects of the drug to be felt. Trips can last for approximately three to six hours.

Magic mushrooms contain the psychoactive alkaloids psilocyben, psilocin and baeocystin.

The effects of magic mushrooms have often been described as similar to, but milder, than that of LSD. Possible effects include: Pupil dilation, distorted vision, hallucinations, ataxia (inability to control muscular movements), feelings of euphoria, mood swings, laughter, anxiety, paranoia, and confusion.

It is also common to experience some level of nausea or diarrhoea after taking magic mushrooms.

There is also a possibility of experiencing disturbing hallucinations (bad trips), especially if too much is taken, or it is taken in an insecure environment. As with LSD, flashbacks may occur long after the last use of the drug. Magic mushrooms are not physically addictive. Psychological addiction may occur, but it is rare.

According to Gillespie, the use of magic mushrooms in South Africa is not widespread. And, according to Charles Parry, director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Unit at the Medical Research Counsel, there are very few statistics available on this phenomenon, apart from information received from a few people who end up in drug treatment.

Risk factors
Magic mushrooms have been found to act as a trigger for certain latent psychological disorders, such as schizophrenia. It is strongly advised that people with any family history of mental problems, or who are going through an emotionally difficult period, are at an increased risk of complications.

Furthermore, they may interact with certain antidepressants and other medications.

People who are under the influence of magic mushrooms should avoid driving or handling heavy equipment, since the sensory distortions associated with the drug can make such activities extremely dangerous. – (Health24)

Source: Erowid

Visit our Substance abuse Centre for more information.

February 2006


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