Josh Chandler | July 15, 2024

Can You Overdose on Mushrooms?

Psychedelic mushrooms, also known as “magic mushrooms” or simply “shrooms,” are a type of naturally occurring mushroom that contains chemicals called psilocybin or psilocin. These chemicals affect the brain and cause hallucinations, affecting all the senses and altering a person’s thoughts and sense of time. But can you overdose on mushrooms?

There are many types of magic mushrooms, which can come fresh, dried, or in powder. People eat them, inject them, or snort them, and they can also be added to tea, food such as shroom chocolate bars, or fruit juice. Their effects depend on how much you take, what you’re expecting, where you are, your emotional state and your personality, what you’ve had to eat, your age, and your weight. 

You might experience dilated pupils, euphoria, and changes in how you perceive the world. You may feel euphoric or like you’re having a magical, spiritual experience, and you may also feel anxious, have the chills, feel dizzy, experience high blood pressure, have an upset stomach, or notice your mouth is numb. In this article, we seek to answer the age-old question: can you overdose on mushrooms? 

 

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Can You Overdose on Mushrooms?

Researchers worldwide are working on definitively answering this question, and so far, the answer is that it’s unlikely to happen. Only a handful of known deaths have been officially attributed to magic mushroom toxicity, as the estimated lethal dose would require a person to eat around 10 kg of fresh mushrooms. 

In a recent study of 9,233 international users of magic mushrooms, 0.2% reported seeking medical attention. Out of these 19 individuals, the reason behind their hospital visit was either due to “poor mindset,” “poor setting,” or mixing other drugs like cannabis or alcohol with mushrooms. The most common symptoms associated with mushrooms are anxiety, panic, paranoia, and unconsciousness, although a few people also experience heart palpitations, overheating, or self-harm due to psychosis. In very few cases, individuals have also had seizures, memory loss, or have experienced very low moods after using mushrooms. 

It’s difficult to judge how much will cause an overdose, as each strain has a different potency, and each person reacts to them differently. There is always the likelihood of having a challenging “bad trip” or experiencing what is known as a non-critical overdose, even if you’re an experienced user. 

Signs and Symptoms of a Mushroom Overdose

Although mushrooms are used in spiritual and recreational contexts and are generally physically nontoxic, adverse reactions can occur, especially if a strong batch is consumed. You may experience symptoms like:

  • Agitation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Muscle weakness
  • Psychosis
  • Passing out

You may also have a headache for up to 24 hours after using mushrooms or develop persistent feelings of anxiety or depression, especially if you have a pre-existing mental health condition. 

A big part of taking psychedelic drugs like mushrooms is what is known as “set” and “setting.” You must have the right mindset and physical setting to avoid a bad trip. This might involve unpleasant or frightening hallucinations, anxiety, and fear. Many people who seek medical attention for mushroom use are having this experience and will often feel better within a few hours. 

Flashbacks, vivid visual distortions, or changes in emotions or perception can also affect some people who regularly use magic mushrooms, occurring suddenly weeks, months, or even years after the drug was last used. Flashbacks are sometimes triggered by stress, exercise, using other drugs, or tiredness, lasting a few minutes. 

Causes and Risk Factors for Mushroom Overdose

Some causes and risk factors for mushroom overdose are:

  • Taking other drugs or drinking alcohol while using mushrooms.
  • Using mushrooms while on certain prescription medications like lithium.
  • Taking a high dose of mushrooms.
  • Use mushrooms when you have a mental health condition, seizure disorder, or blood pressure disorder.
  • Being dehydrated or malnourished when using mushrooms.
  • Accidentally eating poisonous mushrooms.

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Immediate Actions and Treatment for Mushroom Overdose

If you suspect you or someone you know is overdosing, the best course of action is to get immediate medical care. Sometimes, underlying health issues can be triggered by drug use, like seizures, heart palpitations, hyperventilation, or illness. It could also be possible that poisonous mushrooms were consumed by accident. Doctors will be able to assist you, even if you’re experiencing psychiatric distress, by providing prescription medications and psychiatric care.

Long-Term Effects and Complications of Mushroom Overdose

Most effects caused by magic mushrooms are short-term, but the consequences of risk-taking behavior or sudden psychosis may be long-lasting. For example, suffering a harmful accident can lead to head injuries, organ damage, or worse. Some people experiencing psychosis might experience a long break from reality called persistent psychosis. This can cause paranoia, disorganized thinking, mood changes, and visual disturbances, requiring professional psychiatric care. Most problematic effects have been linked to individuals who already had underlying psychological disorders. 

Some other longer-term effects and complications include:

  • Alterations in brain chemistry can cause problems with mood regulation, cognitive function, and emotions.
  • Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) is a condition similar to flashbacks, except the perceptual changes can last for weeks or months after using the drug.
  • Increased depression, anxiety, or psychosis symptoms in those with pre-existing conditions.
  • Personality changes include increased openness, impulsivity, and difficulties in social functioning.
  • Psychological dependence on mushrooms can also occur when they’re being used to cope with emotional challenges.

Mushrooms vs. Other Psychedelics: Overdose Risks

In general, psychedelic drugs do not have a high overdose risk. However, studies are still being done on their effects and the risks vs. benefits of using them for medicinal or spiritual purposes. Because of their psychoactive nature, it’s recommended to use these types of substances only under proper guidance and supervision from trained professionals as directed — not recreationally. 

 

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Muse Treatment’s Approach to Substance Use and Overdose Prevention

At Muse Treatment, we understand that everybody has their own reasons for using substances, from mushrooms to alcohol or hard drugs. Our approach to substance use and overdose prevention is, therefore, tailored to help each patient. If you reach out to us, we’ll work with you to create a program to meet you where you are on your recovery journey and help you reach your unique treatment goals.

We have inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment programs that are designed to help you better understand yourself, heal underlying emotional pain and trauma, and encourage you to become the best version of yourself through individualized, evidence-based therapies, healthy living programs, holistic programming, group therapy, and support. To learn more, please call us today at 800-426-1818 or contact us online. You can speak to a representative confidentially and start down your healing pathway.

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