Psilocybin is a psychoactive substance contained in several species of mushrooms, which are consumed recreationally. Psilocybin/mushrooms are categorized as psychedelic drugs (or hallucinogens) and are considered to be a Schedule I controlled substance without any indications for medical use by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration 2. However, there is some evidence to suggest that it may have some therapeutic utility for some conditions, such as depression. Approximately, 1.2 million people over the age of 12 have been reported to be users of hallucinogens, and young people with a co-occurring major depressive disorder have been found to be more likely to use hallucinogenic drugs than those without that diagnosis.
These mushrooms containing psilocybin are typically ingested or drank as a brewed beverage. They are hallucinogenic and people consume it to experience a “good trip”, which are vivid perceptual effects (visual and auditory hallucinations) and changes in perception of time. Sometimes, user experience a “bad trip”, which comprise negative experiences while under the influence, and can have lasting effects on the user. Other symptoms include detachment from reality or self, feeling of spiritual experiences, intense emotions, increased respiration, temperature, and blood pressure, heart palpitations, tremors, loss of appetite, dry mouth, sleep disturbances, nausea, blurred vision, dilated pupils, loss of coordination, paranoia, and in extreme cases, psychosis. These users are prone to injury or death as a result of poor judgment while under the influence of psilocybin. Furthermore, they are also at increased risk of poisoning and potential death from accidentally ingesting a misidentified, poisonous mushroom.
About 4.2% of the users experience what is known as the hallucinogen persisting perception disorder, which includes flashbacks or re-experiencing of psilocybin intoxication despite having abstained from magic mushroom use for an extended period of time.
Persistent use of psilocybin can indeed result in addiction. The signs of psilocybin addiction include craving for mushrooms and spending a lot of time and effort seeking them and using them despite failure to fulfill personal obligations, or having a concern for social/interpersonal problems or health issues. These abusers also repeatedly fail to cut down or quit using mushrooms.
Psilocybin/mushroom treatment becomes necessary for someone who abuses it to the point that they become out of touch with reality. The treatment plan is targeted at weaning them from psilocybin/mushroom dependency. The good news is that psilocybin is not that addictive, so there is no major chemical/pharmacologic dependence; however, the psychological dependence is quite strong. Things get complicated when there is polysubstance abuse. This is not uncommon in these users, as they tend to use other agents as well, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, stimulants or opioids. Such users would always require a rigorous detox program and rehabilitation in order to have a full recovery. There are various programs especially designed to address not only these addiction issues but also the underlying psychological issues that predispose them to addiction in the first place.