How Mushrooms Work
People who take magic mushrooms often report a boost in sensory information. Colors seem brighter, solid objects seem to buckle and sway, and hidden noises seem to come to the surface. It’s reasonable to assume that all of those changes come from mushroom-derived boosts in brain activity.
In reality, according to research quoted by TIME, magic mushrooms actually reduce activity in portions of the brain that deal with the senses. This dampening action reduces connectivity between the senses, and in a way, those senses are released from normal interpretive rules.
Typically, a sense signal comes into the brain, bounces from one sense hub to another, and is interpreted by the brain in a specific way. Mushrooms disrupt this process, suppressing some signals while sending others that haven’t been processed. All of the sensory changes people feel come due to that disruption.
Hidden Mushroom Dangers
A typical mushroom experience lasts for just a few hours, but during that time, people can see things and feel things that stick with them. Sometimes, those experiences are pleasant. But sometimes, teens have a bad trip that involves:
This trip may fade away, but according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, some mushroom users have a form of flashback disease, in which they relive the bad trip over and over again. It’s unclear why this happens, and at the moment, there are no good treatments for flashbacks. It could be a problem for any teen user.
Mushrooms aren’t associated with any sort of compulsive use and addiction, according to Brown University, but some teens who take mushrooms do so in concert with other drugs. For teens like this, mushrooms may work as a gateway to other drugs, like MDMA or ecstasy.
With recurrent use of mushrooms, the brain becomes accustomed and immune to the chemical changes. That means experienced teens may find that they just can’t get the high they’re looking for with the plants. If they switch to stronger drugs in search of that high, they could tap into chemicals that do alter brain chemistry and that are associated with addiction. So it’s safe to say that mushrooms, used regularly, could be one path a teen takes to addiction. The mushrooms start the ball rolling.
Another danger for teen mushroom experimenters comes due to the nature of mushrooms themselves. According to Emergency Medicine Reports, there are about 100 toxic mushroom species in North America, and 10 are considered deadly. These mushrooms can look strikingly similar, so teens who hop out looking for plants to take could very easily ingest something that could harm or kill them. The more teens experiment with mushrooms, the more likely it is that they will be poisoned. Teens can get cocky about the risks, after multiple mushroom exposures, and it takes only one plant to cause a great deal of harm.
How to Talk to Teens
While it might be true that teens don’t become addicted to mushrooms, they certainly shouldn’t continue to use them. These are substances with a great deal of power, and one trip done wrong could have lasting consequences. That’s why parents who suspect experimentation should talk with their teens as soon as possible.
It’s best to plan this talk when the teen is:
That means parents shouldn’t ambush a teen returning from a party, and they shouldn’t awaken a teen in the middle of the night to talk. Instead, they should pick a point at which the teen seems comfortable, reasonable, and clearheaded. Parents can then discuss the signs of use they’ve seen, and they can highlight the very real dangers mushrooms present.
Sometimes, teens open up in these discussions and reveal the details of the other drugs they’re taking. When that happens, parents might need to find rehab programs that can help. The number on this page will connect interested parents with intake specialists. Call now.
Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.