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.
It is difficult to measure doses of mushrooms reliably due to variations in psilocybin levels and it is impossible to fully imagine the nature of effects if you have not tried them before. There is an argument to suggest that they should be avoided if the user is not prepared to have a potentially overwhelming experience. Many people choose not to take psychedelics because they do not want to feel out of control.
The effects that psychedelics can induce are normally only controllable to some extent but proper planning is advisable. Whilst many people think that the use of powerful and controlled drugs can never be considered entirely responsible and well-judged, people who are informed about the factors which affect the mood of a trip are certainly less likely to experience unpleasant thoughts and effects.
Set and setting
A useful way of remembering the factors that help determine whether a trip is rewarding or nightmarish is the concept of ‘set’ and ‘setting’. A person’s ‘set’ (or mind-set) includes their mood, disposition, thoughts and expectations. A person’s ‘setting’ is the specific place and social situation in which they take the drug. If an anxious and miserable person accepts magic mushrooms without having planned for this at a chaotic party where they know and trust no-one, then their trip may lead to disastrous experiences. Taking hallucinogens in a calm, familiar place, with someone you trust to be your sober ‘trip-sitter’ is far less likely to be something regrettable.
Having a sitter
Psychedelic drugs trigger a complex range of altered states of consciousness which can make people highly suggestible, especially in the presence of other people. This also means that their ideas strongly influence the way that they perceive the world. For example, once the thought has occurred that they might be dying, they may see their skin appearing to go grey and blotchy. However, this suggestibility is not necessarily all bad; it means that a sober helper, (sometimes called a ‘trip sitter’) can often successfully reassure them, or distract them with a change of scene or showing them something. It is essential to remind someone who is showing signs of beginning to have problems that what they are feeling is not real, and that they have taken a drug which will wear off. Reassuring comments and gestures can be helpful. Have a discussion before you begin as to what to do if things do not go smoothly.
Are you sure you are not taking a poisonous mushroom by mistake?
Certain types of psilocybin mushroom look like some very poisonous mushrooms. If you are going out to find your own mushrooms then you have to be extremely careful that you are not accidentally picking and eating a poisonous mushroom by mistake. Be very cautious about following any guidance from the internet; remember for example, that every country has its own species of mushroom. Some mushrooms can kill you or make you very ill, so if you are unsure about a mushroom you should not eat it. Symptoms of liver failure caused by mushroom toxicity may not appear until a few days later.