ARTICLE SUMMARY: In this article we discuss the psychological aspect of mushroom addiction as well as the importance of treatment. We also provide you with some tips about how to take care of yourself when psychological withdrawal occurs. Finally, we welcome all your questions and/or personal experiences with mushroom discontinuation at the end.
ESTIMATED READING TIME: 10 minutes.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Mushrooms and the Brain
- Dependence or Addiction?
- Long-Term Side Effects
- Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms
- Withdrawal Intensity
- Medical Professionals
- Behavioral Therapies
- The Safest Way to Quit
- Is Treatment Needed?
- Self-Care Tips
- Your Questions
Magic shrooms are similar to the kind of mushrooms we eat. The difference with shrooms is that they create hallucinogenic effects known as “trips”. There are multiple varieties, but the most common hallucinogenic mushrooms contain psilocybin muscimol and ibotenic acid.
No one ever hoped that what they began as a hobby, out of curiosity, could one day become a daily habit. Almost no one believes that this daily habit would eventually become an addiction which your body will demand in order to function normally.
Trying to abstain from your current mushroom addiction might bring on consequences otherwise known as “withdrawal symptoms”. Although hallucinogenic mushrooms are not known to create physical dependence, they are still psychologically addictive. In other words, if you try to stop or control your compulsive behavior, you will probably face a round of emotions such as depression, guilt, fear, and grief.
How Mushrooms Affect The Brain
Magic shrooms contain a chemical called “psilocybin”. This main ingredient found in mushrooms is the one that actually makes people experience sensory hallucinations. But what happens inside the brain and how do mushrooms produce their effects?
Scientific research has found that magic mushrooms produce their effects by making the brain “hyperconnected.” This means that the use of hallucinogenic shrooms intensifies the communication between different brain regions.
Psilocybin, a chemical present in hallucinogenic shrooms works by binding the same receptors in the brain as the neurotransmitter serotonin. This allows mushrooms to interfere with brain regions that regulate mood and physical sensations.
The effects of psilocybin mushrooms produce different effects in those who use them. While some people can have a happy, experience, others might face the consequences of a “bad trip” accompanied by paranoia. Medical research has discovered that getting high on psilocybin doesn’t just create a colorful, psychedelic experience for a couple of hours. These pleasant sensations come with a high price. The repeated use of mushrooms causes neurological changes that might require a year before brought back to normality.
There is help available for people trying to give up mushrooms, even after a long period of heavy use. Medical treatment can greatly reduce, or eliminate most of the psychological symptoms of mushroom withdrawal.
Dependence or Addiction?
Over the past decade there have been significant debates among experts in the treatment and recovery field about the distinction between the use of the terms “dependence” and “addiction”.
According to Dr. Drew Pinsky, an addiction medicine specialist and clinical professor of psychiatry at the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine:
“Addiction is a biological disorder with a genetic basis. Its hallmark is progressive use in the face of adverse consequences (effects on school or work, health, finances, legal, relationships). Another characteristic that distinguishes addiction from dependence is the component of denial. Addiction is a biological switch, having been thrown in the deep regions of the brain. For the most part, emotional dysregulation is why people go to addictive substances in the first place.”
A person is viewed as addicted to mushrooms if he/she:
- Continues to use mushrooms despite negative consequences on their life.
- Gives up important activities such as work, school, family or other relationships because of mushroom use.
- Uses mushrooms compulsively and is unable to stop once they’ve started.
- Experiencing flashbacks in between trips.
Before someone becomes addicted to mushrooms, s/he will usually first develop tolerance and physical dependence. So, what are these two conditions?
Tolerance is the state during which your body becomes accustomed to the presence of a drug. As a result, you need to continue increasing your daily intake in order to achieve the same effect. This is how your body becomes physically dependent (in need) of (mushrooms) to be able to function regularly.
Those who use psilocybin mushrooms repeatedly will eventually build up tolerance. In fact, tolerance to magic shrooms develops quickly. After only 24 hours of the last “trip” you have to take twice as much to reach the initial effect. Tolerance to hallucinogenic mushrooms lasts 4-5 days after the last use. There is also some cross-tolerance with other psychedelic drugs of such LSD and DMT.
CONCLUSION: Drug dependence is a physical disorder, as oppose to addiction which is a behavioral disorder that may, or may not include physical dependence.
Long Term Side Effects
Mushrooms with hallucinogenic properties can cause harm and damage. Psilocybin, the main ingredient found in hallucinogenic mushrooms is a schedule I drug under the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. This makes mushrooms drugs with a high potential for abuse and no recognized medical uses.
Regardless of the fact that mushrooms are not physically dependent, their use causes the following side effects:
- audio and visual hallucinations
- decreased motivation
- impaired memory
- lack of coordination
- panic attacks
- rapid mood changes
Risk of negative effects and overdose increases if you have developed tolerance to mushrooms, which means you’ll need larger amounts to feel the same effects.
In some cases, you may even suffer from an acute psychological collapse if you overdose mushrooms or use them over an extended period. During this state, reality will be impossible to differentiate from hallucinations, which could lead to choices with dangerous consequences. This risk is more prominent if you have a history of mental illness or if your close family members have a history of mental illness.
Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms
According to the 2017 Surgeon General Report: Facing Addiction, withdrawal symptoms from mushrooms re officially “unknown”. However it is safe to say that the effects from hallucinogen drugs such as magic mushrooms on the brain also affect the emotional and psychological health and well-being of a person. The interference of this drug on brain chemicals can result in a variety of psychological withdrawal symptoms such as:
- extreme mood swings
- low impulse control
- panic episodes
- psychotic breaks from reality
- speech difficulties
These symptoms require the assistance of medical professionals who are trained with mushrooms addiction issues. Addiction affects people in different ways, which means that people require individualized treatment programs and a unique therapeutic approach.
Factors Affecting Withdrawal Intensity
The same way the effects felt after the use of mushrooms are different, the withdrawal experience with this drug is also unique and individual from one person to another. The factors that contribute to the severity, intensity, and duration of withdrawal are:
- The length of time you’ve been using psilocybin mushrooms.
- The amount of psilocybin mushrooms you’ve been taking.
- Whether you abuse multiple drugs in combination with psilocybin mushrooms.
- Your overall physical health, age, gender.
- Your unique body response and metabolism of psilocybin mushrooms.
- Presence of co-existing physical or psychological health conditions, (high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia).
Since psilocybin does not produce severe withdrawal symptoms, mushrooms detox does not usually require drug replacement therapy. However, as chemicals are stored in the fatty tissues of the body, sudden discontinuation from magic shrooms might result in mild to moderate withdrawal. Instead of an abrupt discontinuation, it is better to reduce the mushroom doses gradually to prevent adverse withdrawal side effects.
Sensory stimulation is sometimes performed to reduce Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD). This disorder is marked with repeated presence of visual sensory disturbances caused by the use of hallucinogenic shrooms.
Further, you might be prescribed benzodiazepines during mushroom detox in order to manage the possible occurrence of seizures and agitation. Benzodiazepines are usually prescribed to stop agitation and seizures during an addiction treatment from mushrooms and ensure healthy brain activity. Residential treatment is necessary for those who have seizures since these side effects may cause brain damage and motor function impairment.
Experts you can rely on for help with dealing a mushrooms dependence and addiction include:
- Addiction counselor/psychologist (How to Choose a Psychologist)
- Addiction doctor (MD specialist) (American Board of Addiction Medicine)
- Addiction treatment center or drug detox clinic (SAMHSA Finder)
- Your family doctor
- Psychiatrist (Find a Psychiatrist)
These experts participate in the process of withdrawal and offer physical and psychological support to make the process less stressful.
But what can you do if you think you’re addicted?
Dealing with an addiction requires more than just detoxing off the substance. Experts often suggest entering rehab to achieve long term sobriety. Recovery programs include behavioral-based therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). After undergoing a structured addiction treatment program, people have the option to continue receiving outpatient therapy, including motivational interviewing, family therapy, and motivational incentives.
There are multiple treatment options for those who abuse psilocybin mushrooms. Since magic mushrooms are more psychologically, rather than physically addictive, treatment programs include a variety of behaviorally based therapies and techniques. With their help you’ll have the chance to work on the issues that keep pushing you towards repeated mushroom abuse. Options for psilocybin addiction treatment include:
Dual Diagnosis Care. If you struggle with psilocybin addiction, there is a great possibility that you may have a co-occurring mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Someone with a mushroom addiction and a co-morbid mental health is diagnosed as a person with dual diagnosis. People with dual diagnosis receive a comprehensive treatment program that addresses both issues simultaneously in order to reduce the risk of relapse.
Psychotherapy. Group therapy, individual therapy, or a combination of both will help you explore the issues that led to your psilocybin abuse. Therapy helps people identify warning signs of relapse and utilize coping skills in trigger situations. Additionally, counseling can help you decrease stress and teach you relapse prevention skills.
Social support is an important aspect of recovery from mushroom addiction. This type of support is provided in the form of family therapy, community mental health care groups, 12-step groups, or alternative groups, such as Narcotic Anonymous (NA).
Additional Services. Support in the form of psychoeducation, peer support, vocational rehabilitation, drug education, relapse prevention training, and case management are tools that treatment centers use to educate people addicted to drugs and help them learn as much as they can about dependence, addiction and the reasons they reach for self-destructive behaviors.
Taking your addiction seriously will greatly influence your commitment in recovery. Your contribution is one of the most important factors in determining how well you’ll cope with withdrawal. If you stay committed, dedicated and strong, you will succeed in achieving a healthy and sober life.
The Safest Way To Quit Mushrooms
The safest and most effective way to quit mushrooms is with the help of medical experts. They will make sure your situation is stabilized and your condition is closely monitored.
In fact, psychological withdrawal from shrooms can be successfully supervised by doctors and other professionals who’ll take care of you during treatment. Most importantly, it is at the utmost importance that you spend some time working on the motives for your repeated mushroom use. Addiction can sometimes mask other issues which might hide just around the corner.
Is Treatment Needed?
Yes. People who abuse mushrooms usually have either a co-occurring disorder, or other issues that require treatment.
There is no medical evidence so far that mushrooms produce physical dependence. However, developing a tolerance may encourage you to increase your doses and reach out for other drugs. Psychological dependency is more common if you use psilocybin mushroom long term. If you use this drug recreationally, you may continue to abuse it in order to maintain euphoria. Since psilocybinmushrooms lack physical dependency, there is no withdrawal period that persist over time. Therefore, it is uncommon for someone to go through a residential recovery program for mushroom abuse only.
However, people often consume mushrooms with other drugs such as: PCP, MDMA, and LSD. This increases the risk of developing a co-dependence. Long term mushroom abuse creates psychological addiction that requires treatment. Those with psychological dependence to hallucinogenic mushrooms usually develop Hallucinogen Perception Disorder (HPD). This disorder happens as people experience flashbacks to past trips after using for weeks on a daily basis and requires medical attention.
An addiction goes deeper than stopping reoccurring mushroom use. Treatment centers have developed programs that include cognitive healing, healthy daily routine habits, and beneficial coping mechanisms when struggling with the need for compulsive drug use.
Self -Care Tips
There are different ways to regain strength and help your body and mind adjust easily to being sober again. You might find the following tip useful when quitting mushrooms.
TIP #1: Be around understanding and supportive people (family, friends, and community). Emotional support during treatment and therapy can make a great difference in a person’s recovery outcomes. Knowing that the people you love and care about believe in your ability to recover can boost your confidence and motivate you to try harder.
TIP #2: Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you feel you need it. Support groups, treatment centers, and inpatient clinics are there to help you restore your life balance. In the case of addiction people simply can’t succeed completely on their own. While a great deal of the recovery journey requires your attention and effort, it also requires assistance from professionals.
TIP #3: Eat healthy food and drink enough water. There is an old saying that goes: “we become what we eat”.Healthy food and regular hydration will help your body regeneration.
TIP #4: Exercise daily, even if it is 5 minutes.As you go through the detoxification process, your body is faced with a major change. The substance your body is used to receive is no longer in your system. Exercise is beneficial in many ways. It improves your sleep quality, increases your energy levels,decreases stress, depression, and anxiety. Sports help you establish mental clarity as well.
Still have questions?
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