An analysis of a large international drug survey suggests that psilocybin is a relatively safe drug, with only 0.2% of magic mushroom users seeking emergency medical attention after use. The conclusions, published in Journal of Psychopharmacology, in addition, it suggests that these adverse incidents are usually of a psychological nature and are resolved within 24 hours.
Psilocybin, a psychedelic compound found in certain mushrooms, induces a state of mental alteration when ingested. Although the substance is considered fairly safe compared to other psychoactive drugs, possible adverse reactions include anxiety, paranoia, and panic attacks, and some users have reported persistent effects on mental health. There is also concern that panic reactions may affect the trial long enough to result in dangerous behavior or accidents.
Scientific studies have emerged that suggest positive mental health benefits of these “magic mushrooms,” leading to a generally positive press release on the drug. But researchers have noted that the ongoing study is crucial in guiding public policies and identifying safety precautions with respect to psychedelics.
“Psychedelic use to the general public is on the rise, amid increasing research and public interest in its therapeutic potential,” said study author Emma Kopra, a doctoral student at King’s College of London. “Gathering balanced information about your safety profile is especially important given the rather polarized outlook among recent positive media reports on the mental health benefits of psychedelics, in contrast to the legacy of the‘ War on drugs’, specifically the dissemination of misinformation about the dangers of psychedelics and a public policy focused on criminalizing users rather than reducing harm.
“Previous evidence suggests that psilocybin-containing mushrooms are relatively safe, especially in terms of physiological toxicity, but there is generally little academic research on the onset and nature of adverse reactions.”
The researchers conducted a study to investigate the prevalence of adverse experiences resulting in the search for emergency medical treatment (EMT) after psilocybin use. The study authors also hoped to discover predictors of these adverse incidents. Kopra and colleagues analyzed the responses to the 2017 Global Drug Survey, a large international survey of drug users, while focusing specifically on respondents who reported using mushrooms. magical over the last year.
Respondents were asked who had used magic mushrooms over the past year if they had ever looked for EMT after use. Of the 9,233 respondents who answered this question about emergency medical treatment, 19 of them (0.2%) had requested this treatment. Younger age was a significant predictor of having sought EMT, whereas neither first use nor frequency of use during the last year were significant predictors.
The most cited symptoms by EMT applicants were psychological. Anxiety / panic (68%), paranoia / suspicion (68%) and seeing / hearing things (42%) were the three main symptoms reported. However, there were some worrying physical reactions, with 37% reporting fainting / unconsciousness, 32% reporting difficulty breathing and 26% reporting seizures. Eight of the respondents who reported requesting EMT were admitted to the hospital, and all but one said they had returned to normal within 24 hours.
Most EMT applicants said they had consumed other substances during the same session as magic mushrooms, with 37% reporting cannabis use and 32% reporting alcohol consumption. When asked why they felt the adverse experience had occurred, the most cited reasons were being in the wrong mindset (47%), being in the wrong place (37%), and mixing substances (37%). ).
“No drug is completely risk-free, but relative to most recreational drugs, psilocybin mushrooms demonstrate a good safety profile based on the rate of emergency medical treatment sought in this sample.” , Kopra told PsyPost. “We found that most adverse reactions were of a psychological nature and, above all, were reported to be of short duration. Based on the perceived reasons for these experiences, the risk of adverse reactions can be reduced by certain safety precautions. , such as making sure you are in the right mood (‘set’) and physical environment (‘setting’), as well as avoiding mixing substances .. Regardless, perhaps because of their effects complex and profound psychological responses to psychedelic responses are difficult to predict with high certainty, and sometimes adverse reactions occur even with careful use. “
There were some notable limitations to the study. On the one hand, respondents had volunteered for the study, which could have resulted in a skewed sample. In addition, because there were so few EMT research incidents, there was limited data to establish predictors. However, because adverse reactions are rare, more data would require a massive sample.
“Our sample is not representative of the population; Survey advertising can only reach and attract certain demographic groups or types of respondents, “Kopra explained.” In addition, self-reported responses may be affected by memory biases or attempts to influence the results of the survey. ‘poll. The small number of applicants for emergency medical treatment, as well as some unmeasured variables, such as current psychiatric medications, limited our ability to establish possible predictors of adverse experiences. More research is needed to study these predictors and the detailed circumstances of adverse reactions, to improve advice on safety precautions and harm reduction strategies. “
Overall, the study authors suggest that severe adverse reactions to magic mushrooms are very rare and usually short-lived. For respondents who experienced physical reactions, such as fainting or seizures, it is unclear why. In particular, more than a third of those who reported EMT research considered the mixture of substances to be the culprit of the experiment. Researchers point out that “pre-existing conditions, interactions with other substances or drugs, as well as the consumption of poisonous mushrooms” may have been factors.
“Psilocybin is currently being investigated in clinical trials for mental health conditions worldwide, including in our department,” Kopra said. “It is important to distinguish between the use of psilocybin in clinical or research settings and the recreational use of magic mushrooms, with safety considerations and partially overlapping but different risk profiles.”
The study, “Adverse Experiences Resulting in the Search for Emergency Medical Treatment After Using Magic Mushrooms,” was written by Emma I. Kopra, Jason A. Ferris, Adam R. Winstock, Allan H. Young and James J. Rucker.