Hallucinogenic drugs or psychedelic drugs, as they are also called, are a category of substances that are often used recreationally with the purpose of enhancing one’s sensory perception, energy level, or induce a “spiritual” experience.
Hallucinogens have been used for centuries in different cultures, some even as a part of sacred religious ceremonies. In the 1980s, its popularity grew again with the huge wave that ecstasy made.
Around the 1960s, hallucinogens were used in psychotherapy but the practice was stopped for many reasons. Psychedelics have been used in experiments to mimic psychosis and for mind control, although it was not proven to be actually effective for either. Recently, research on the efficiency of psychedelic drugs for psychological treatment has been revived.
As many people with addiction use psychedelics, it is important for people to have a better understanding of these substances, especially if they know someone who needs help. In particular, the focus will be on LSD or acid and “magic” mushrooms and how they compare:
What Is LSD?
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)—more commonly known as, “acid”—is a type of hallucinogen that creates major changes in the user’s perception, as well as their emotion and even sense of time and space. Even at a dose as small as 20 micrograms, LSD is very active and the effects are already felt. It is often taken orally, either in tablets, droplets, or blotter papers that are placed on the tongue and then swallowed.
Assessing the average dose for this drug is quite challenging given that it is often delivered on tiny pieces of paper. It’s important to note too that different people react to LSD in different ways. That said, what’s established is that taking too much of this drug can result in feelings of alienation or disassociation. For some individuals, taking 20 micrograms of acid is too low a dose that it only delivers minimal euphoric effects.
What Are Mushrooms?
Psilocybin mushrooms belong to a group of fungi that grow naturally but can also be cultivated. Due to the fact that they also grow wild in different parts of the world, mushrooms are appealing to many young people who are thrilled with the idea of trying these “drugs” for free. However, as some varieties have high toxicity levels, these psychedelic shrooms can also be lethal.
They are more commonly called “magic mushrooms” due to the psychedelic effects they deliver. Mushrooms are taken in different ways – they could either be eaten fresh or dried. Some brew them and take them as tea. It’s also often incorporated into baked goods like cakes and just eaten.
Some also dry up psilocybin mushrooms and crush them until they’re in powder form which they can then put into capsules to take orally, inject, or snort. That said, injection of psilocybin powder is extremely dangerous as it can be fatal.
The effects of mushrooms can be felt as early as 20 minutes after ingestion, often lasting somewhere from three to six hours. Some of its most noted effects include euphoria, chills, anxiety, and restlessness. In more rare occasions, the effects of psilocybin mushrooms last up to three days. Because of its “relaxing” effect, people who use mushrooms tend to abuse or misuse them.
Mushrooms have been illegal in the U.S. since the ‘70s.
Drug Classifications of LSD and Mushrooms
LSD belongs in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act which is the most criminalized drug category due to the high potential for abuse characteristic of substances that belong to this group. It’s important to note that these substances have no accepted medical use, although LSD has been tried for some therapeutic approach for conditions like anxiety and depression. That said, this is fairly new, and more research needs to be done. It is said that shrooms and LSD both show potential for the treatment or at least management of PTSD and addiction. Despite some of its positive effects, the fact is that LSD affects people differently and could cause serious psychological and physical damages.
Psilocybin mushrooms are also classified as Schedule I, which means that like LSD, they are also habit-forming and haven’t been established for any medical use. They are, therefore, considered illicit.
LSD and Mushrooms Compared
There are lots of mushrooms that have psychoactive properties but most belong to the Psilocybe cubensis species with psilocybin being the most abundant hallucinogenic component. LSD has a less natural origin than mushrooms, obviously, as they were first synthesized from ergot in 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman. Ergot is a kind of mold that occurs on grains and rye bread.
As for the effects, both mushrooms and LSD can cause:
- Altered sense of taste, smell, and touch
- Distorted time perception
- Auditory hallucination
- Visual hallucination
- Feeling that still objects are in motion
- Feeling that solid things are melting
- Increased openness to new ideas
- Experiencing philosophical breakthroughs
- Paranoia and delusion
- Fear of death
- Spiritual awakening
- Spike in blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
- Dilated pupils
- Profuse sweating
The difference in effects between the two lies mostly in the onset time of these side effects and how long they last.
Despite sharing the same potential effects, LSD and mushrooms result in different psychedelic trips so they’re used by different types of people, too.
LSD trips lean towards breakthroughs and breakdowns, depending on the user’s mindset at the time of use as well as their environment. The trip is also reported to be more extreme compared to what you get with magic mushrooms.
On the other hand, mushrooms’ trip is often described as more like a whole-body experience as opposed to the majorly cerebral effects of LSD.
How Long Is LSD Detectable in the Body?
When using a urine test, LSD can be detected for up to four days after the last use, while in a blood test, that’s between 6 and 12 hours after the last use. In a hair test, it can be detected up to 90 days after the last use. Of course, several factors come into play, including how much LSD was taken, the age of the user, their weight, and general health.
As for the duration of the effect, it depends greatly on the dose taken and how it was ingested, but typically, the trips last between 9 and 12 hours.
How Long Are Shrooms Detectable in the Body?
Magic mushrooms usually do not show up on routine drug tests. This is because the body metabolizes them fast enough so they can’t be detected either in saliva tests or blood unless the test is conducted just a few hours after consumption.
It might require a more specialized test to detect the presence of mushrooms in the system. That said, shrooms could be detected in a hair follicle test but rarely do people use this test due to its cost.
Withdrawal From LSD
Because LSD use can lead to tolerance, that could subside in a few days with no extreme discomfort or craving. In fact, the journal Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology published in 2016 said that LSD use does not lead to physical dependence. Tolerance disappears a few days after stopping its use with no cravings. Therefore, there is no psychological or physical dependence risk.
Still, some users who stopped taking LSD have experienced these symptoms:
- General discomfort
- Anxiety or depression
Withdrawal From Mushrooms
If you use shrooms continuously for weeks or even just days at a time, you could possibly experience psychological withdrawal when you stop using. You might have to go through a detox program, depending on how addicted you were to the substance, and especially if you use them with alcohol.
Some of the withdrawal symptoms include:
- Difficulty speaking
- Memory loss
Contrary to what most users believe, there is no safe way to use hallucinogenic substances. There is always a risk of dependence and tolerance. There’s also a risk of damage to your physical and psychological health. It is important that if you or anyone you care about is using psychedelic substances, you immediately search for addiction recovery centers in your area that can provide help and support.