Psilocybin mushrooms, aka “shrooms” or “magic” mushrooms, are psychedelic drugs that, when ingested, can induce hallucinations and heightened emotional states. Many individuals use this drug only occasionally, but excessive use is possible and can lead to psychological dependence.
People who consume hallucinogenic mushrooms may also drink alcohol excessively to mitigate unwanted effects associated with them, intensify an overall high, or because they have a strong propensity for substance abuse in general. However, combining the use of shrooms and alcohol can provoke severe and unpredictable health conditions and lead to polysubstance use disorder development.
What Are Hallucinogens?
Psilocybin mushrooms belong to a class of mind-altering substances known as hallucinogens. As their name suggests, these drugs produce hallucinations or false perceptions of reality. Other common hallucinogens include DMT (ayahuasca), mescaline (peyote), and LSD.
Some hallucinogens, also referred to as dissociatives, have the additional effect of inducing feelings of detachment from reality. Common dissociative drugs include ketamine (Special K), PCP, and salvia, all of which are illegal in the U.S.
Hallucinogens work by interacting with neurochemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, which play an essential role in regulating emotion and cognition. Some dissociative drugs also interfere with glutamate functioning, another brain chemical that influences cognition and pain sensations.
Each hallucinogen affects the brain and body differently, and also, due to individual factors, each user will have a different experience. Generally speaking, users of hallucinogens, such as shrooms, seek a relaxing, altered, and possibly spiritual experience that can last for several hours. Unfortunately, however, adverse consequences may include anxiety, confusion, panic, seizures, and even psychotic symptoms, oft-referred to as having a “bad trip.”
How Are Hallucinogens like Shrooms Dangerous?
Many people who have abused hallucinogens have been incurred trauma due to bad trips, which some describe as nightmarish. Repeatedly using hallucinogens can also have long-term consequences, including memory and cognition impairments and depression.
Since hallucinogens distort a person’s perception of themselves and their environment, they can impair judgment and prompt risky or erratic behavior. Some individuals under the influence of hallucinogens have been known to assault others or harm themselves.
Most hallucinogens can produce tolerance, thereby encouraging some users to use more substances in ever-increasing doses to continue experiencing the desired effects. A heavy hallucinogen user who develops addiction to the drugs will experience withdrawal when they discontinue use. The symptoms of hallucinogen withdrawal include intense cravings, depression, and psychosis.
How Alcohol Interacts With Hallucinogens
Since hallucinogens’ effects are variable, how they will interact with alcohol are unpredictable. Nevertheless, alcohol and hallucinogens are certainly a high-risk combination. Someone who uses shrooms, DMT, LSD, peyote, or any other hallucinogen and consumes alcohol may experience nausea and vomiting, dizziness, headaches, confusion, and panic attacks, among other adverse effects.
Using the two substances may also dramatically increase a person’s heart rate. In more severe cases, the combination might even cause seizures or unconsciousness. Mixing alcohol with certain hallucinogens, such as MDMA (ecstasy), can also elevate a person’s body temperature to dangerous levels.
Additionally, alcohol use may also increase an individual’s likelihood of experiencing a bad trip by enhancing frightening hallucinations and exacerbating feelings of depression, which are often associated with unpleasant hallucinogenic experiences.
The effects of hallucinogens, many of which diminish self-awareness, sometimes prevent people from keeping track of how much alcohol they’ve already drank, thereby prompting them to consume more—a behavior that places users at higher risk for acute alcohol poisoning. Finally, since both alcohol and hallucinogens are known to impair judgment, an individual who uses them together may be more likely to behave recklessly and jeopardize others’ health or well-being.
Treatment for Alcohol and Hallucinogen Addiction
Both alcohol and hallucinogens are intoxicating substances, and a person can be addicted to both of them. If a person is abusing both alcohol and one or more hallucinogens, they experience what is referred to as co-occurring disorders or a dual diagnosis. Co-occurring conditions are more complicated to treat than stand-alone addictions because each substance’s abuse can intensify the effects and consequences of the other.
Moreover, overcoming hallucinogen use may be challenging unless the individual is committed to also achieving abstinence from alcohol. Otherwise, using one substance might be the catalyst for using the other again. For this reason, many treatment facilities specialize in treating co-occurring disorders together.
Treatment for co-existing alcohol and hallucinogen addiction will vary between individuals but will likely involve medical detox and long-term intensive treatment for substance abuse. Just Believe Recovery center offers integrated treatment programs that include essential recovery services, such as psychotherapy, 12-step group support, individual and family counseling, relapse prevention, aftercare planning, and more.