Magic mushrooms have relatively low risks to physical health compared to many other drugs because they are not considered addictive and are rarely used regularly. However, tripping on a psychedelic drug has the potential to produce overwhelming and intensely unpleasant experiences.
The best method of staying safe from psilocybin mushrooms is not to consume them at all, but if a person is going to consume them there are some safety practices which should be followed.
- Making sure you have the right mushrooms
Psilocybin mushrooms can sometimes look similar to other non-psilocybin mushrooms. Getting psilocybe mushrooms mixed up with other mushrooms can be harmless in the best-case scenario or fatal in the worst-case scenario.
Poisonous varieties of mushrooms do exist in nature and great care must be taken when choosing a type of mushroom to consume. This is especially a danger if a person is picking wild mushrooms without the proper knowledge or guidance.
There are also many different types of psilocybin mushrooms. Some are weaker in effect and some are stronger — even mistaking a strong variety for a weak one can have unintended consequences by making a trip more intense than anticipated.
It is imperative to know what kind of mushroom you are consuming before you consume it. If you are unsure, do not take them or consult a mycologist or someone who is familiar with varieties ad types of mushrooms.
- Dosage and Measurement
Dosage is extremely important when taking any kind of substance as dosage directly affects the intensity of a trip and/or health risks of a substance.
As psilocybin mushrooms have a very low potential for adverse physical health risks, taking too high of a dose may not do any physiological harm but it will often cause a very intense, unsettling or uncomfortable experience which could leave psychological damage.
The dosage of psilocybin mushrooms differs depending on whether the mushrooms are fresh or dried. As mushrooms are composed of about 90% water, dried varieties will often have a dosage of 10x less than fresh varieties.
For example, if an average dose of fresh psilocybin mushrooms is 20g, the dosage of the same variety of dried mushrooms would be 2g.
Before consuming any psilocybin mushrooms (fresh or dried) it is very important to accurately weigh them to ensure the correct dosage. Accurate gram and milligram scales are widely available and should be used to ensure the dosage is correct.
- Set and Setting
After ensuring you have the correct type of psilocybin mushroom and accurately measuring the dosage, your set and setting has a strong impact on whether you have a good or bad experience.
Set refers to your mindset. A common effect of the substance is the exaggeration of what you are already feeling. A positive mindset or, at the very least, a neutral mindset is key to the psilocybin experience. If a user is in a highly anxious, fearful or in an otherwise negative state of mind before consuming mushrooms, it is likely these emotions will spill over into the psychedelic experience and cause a bad trip. Conversely, if you are in a positive mood the psilocybin is likely to lift that mood and reflect more of what you are feeling, leading to a happy, insightful and even euphoric experience.
If you are in a bad or negative frame of mind, psilocybin may magnify what you’re feeling, which is an almost surefire way to have a bad trip (if you’re not under the supervision of a professional). Tripping on psilocybin mushrooms when in a negative state of mind may lead to strong feelings of anxiety, discomfort, fear or even terror.
Setting refers to your environment. Common effects of psilocybin can range from visual distortions and hallucinations to deep-diving into one’s mind or personality. The substance seems to make the brain open to all and any sensory experience during the trip. This means if you are in a loud, crowded, unfamiliar or otherwise uncomfortable environment it is very likely to lead to a bad trip, even if you begin with a positive mindset.
It is very important to ensure your environment is familiar, comfortable and you are with people you trust before embarking on a psilocybin trip. Not doing so will almost certainly lead to a negative experience.
It is an idea to have a trusted, sober person present when on a psilocybin trip. This person, known as a ‘tripsitter,’ can ensure everyone is safe, has a positive experience and can deal with any potentially situations which may arise.
Situations like these can include when a user has a bad experience and doesn’t know what’s real or not — the tripsitter can bring them back to reality and ensure them whatever they’re thinking or experiencing is not real and the drug will eventually wear off. Reassuring comments and gestures are helpful, as is making sure those who are tripping are not feeling anxious or uncomfortable.
An ideal tripsitter would be someone who has also experienced positive psilocybin trips. This means they understand the feeling of the trip and what is needed to effectively tripsit. Psilocybin can make users very sensitive to their own moods and the moods of others. Having a tripsitter who is judgemental or does not agree with consuming psilocybin mushrooms will very much negatively affect the experience of those tripping.
- Killing the High
Colloquial evidence and user trip-reports suggest the psilocybin high can be cut short or ‘killed’ by consuming sugary foods & drinks like sweets, carbohydrates or fruit juices. It is theorised the sugars break down the psilocin in the blood, speeding up the process of bringing the user back to sobriety/reality quicker.
There is not much scientific evidence to support this theory, but if a user is having a bad trip and/or wants to come down, consuming sugary foods or drinks will not do any harm.