Magic mushrooms

Magic mushrooms are a hallucinogenic fungus that interfere with a person's perception of reality. Read on to find our more about what magic mushrooms arehow they work, what to do if something goes wrong, and where to get help.

This could be for you if:

  • You want to know about magic mushrooms
  • You want to know what to do if someone has a bad trip
  • You're curious about hallucinations

What are magic mushrooms?

‘Magic’ mushrooms are a type of fungus containing hallucinogenic chemicals (psilocybin) that grow in the wild. They can be cooked, eaten raw, dried, brewed in tea or smoked with tobacco. 

They work by disrupting how your nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin interact throughout the brain and spinal cord.  By changing the normal functioning of serotonin in the brain, mushrooms distort the way you process information and make you hallucinate.

Even though magic mushrooms are native to Australia, it's illegal to consume them, sell them or grow them yourself. Although magic mushrooms are not deadly, there are deadly mushrooms and toadstools in Australia that also grow in the wild. Eating the wrong type of mushroom can kill you and it’s not always easy to tell the difference between types of mushrooms. 

What do magic mushrooms do?

Magic mushrooms change how you experience reality. There's no way to tell if the changes will be enjoyable or not. Panic, anxiety and paranoia are all common parts of mushroom trips. Changes will begin shortly after you take mushrooms, and may last for approximately 4-6 hours. You might get:

  • More intense or “mixed” sights, sounds, feelings and tastes
  • Higher blood pressure and body temperature in the short-term
  • Changes in how you sense time and space
  • Feelings of wellbeing, but also mood swings
  • Numbness, twitching or bad co-ordination
  • A sick stomach
It’s important not to mix magic mushrooms with alcohol or other drugs as magic mushrooms are already unpredictable without other complications, and mixing them could put you in an emergency situation.
It’s quite easy to build up a tolerance quickly (which means you need to take more and more to get the same effect). Taking more to get high magnifies the risks involved and can lead to bad trips, self-harm and dangerous behaviour. Deaths from using magic mushrooms generally occur due to suicide, accidents and dangerous behaviour whilst under the influence of magic mushrooms.

Having a bad trip

You can never tell how someone (including yourself) is going to react to mushrooms. Sometimes the experience is really negative – also known as a “bad trip”. This involves:

  • Fear, panic and anxiety
  • Feeling like you're going mad
  • Seeing and hearing frightening things
  • Violence or self-harm in some cases

As well as bad trips, doing mushrooms regularly can bring on drug-induced psychosis and anxiety. Flashbacks can also happen to some people, where the effects of the drug briefly come on months or years later.

How to help and get help

If someone has a bad trip, try to:
  • Reassure and comfort them until the trip wears off – it could take a few hours
  • Stay with the person, talk to them, and use their name
  • Provide a calm, safe, relaxed atmosphere
  • Get medical advice if you're not sure about their safety or wellbeing

If you find yourself in an emergency situation. Contact:
Emergency Services (for emergencies only) 000
Poisons information centre – 13 11 26

Emergency contacts

Emergency Services (for emergencies only) 000

Poisons information centre – 13 11 26

What can I do now?

  • Avoid mixing magic mushrooms and other drugs.
  • Find out more about other drugs.
  • Contact emergency services if you, or a friend, need help.