Know the facts and connect with support to help you address known or suspected substance use with your child.

    Psilocybin and psilocyn are the hallucinogenic compounds contained in certain mushrooms. These “magic” mushrooms (other names include caps and shrooms) are generally grown in Mexico and Central America and have been used in native rituals for thousands of years. Psilocybin is structurally similar to the brain chemical serotonin, and produces its effects by disrupting normal functioning of the serotonin system.[1]

    Ingesting these mushrooms can cause a person to see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but do not exist. Their effects typically begin within 20 to 90 minutes of ingestion and can last as long as 12 hours. They are generally eaten, brewed or consumed as tea.[2]

    Understand the risks

    Once ingested, mushrooms generally cause feelings of nausea before the desired mental effects appear. Other effects can include nervousness and paranoia. Effects can be different during each use due to varying potency, the amount ingested, and a person’s expectations, mood, surroundings, and frame of mind. On some trips, people experience sensations that are enjoyable. Others can include terrifying thoughts, and anxiety, fears of insanity, death, or losing control. A person using magic mushrooms is often unable to discern what is fantasy and what is reality.

    Some people using magic mushrooms experience “flashbacks,” or hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), which are reoccurrences of hallucinations long after ingesting the drug. The causes of these effects, which in some people occur after a single experience with the drug, are not known.[3]

    Identify & address use

    Signs of use include nausea, nervousness and paranoia. If you’re concerned your child may be using mushrooms or other substances, the following can help you address the behavior more effectively.

    Reducing the risks of using mushrooms

    If you think that your loved one is using mushrooms, talk to them. Here are some useful ideas about how to approach the conversation.

    The best course of action is not to use mushrooms. If your loved one insists on using it despite its downsides, consider sharing ways to reduce the risks. Remember that the most important thing is to keep them safe. Reducing the risks is not encouraging the use of substances. Instead it recognizes that there are ways to minimize the consequences of mushrooms use.

    Here are some risk reduction measures you may wish to share with your loved one. The recommendations are from a survey of people who use mushrooms and what they do to reduce risks:[4]

    • Know your substance: all substances’ effects are dose-related. Usually, the more substances you take, the stronger and longer-lasting the effects (and the greater the risk of harm). So, it’s a good idea to ‘test dose’ each new batch of mushrooms to see how strong it is. Start with a small amount of mushrooms and waiting for 90 to 120 before taking the planned dose.
    • Avoid when depressed, anxious or paranoid: substances tend to worsen these states. Getting paranoid (e.g., being overly suspicious or fearful for no reason) when tripping is not uncommon.
    • Avoid driving, biking or swimming: operating vehicles under the influence of any substance is always risky, the same as swimming.
    • Watch friends who are tripping: check in on your friends if they are using mushrooms to make sure they are safe.
    • Use mushrooms with people you trust: sometimes psychedelics can produce unpleasant experiences, so it is best to have someone you trust on your side.
    • Use a reliable source: don’t get substances from people you don’t know or barely know.
    • Plan your experience: plan in advance what you will do and where you will be when using mushrooms.
    • Set a limit on the amount: use only what you planned to use before your session.
    • Leave time between trips: leave enough time between trips (days, weeks, months) to understand and process your experience.
    • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help prevent dehydration and reduce the risk of overheating, which can be a side effect of mushrooms use.
    • Avoid mixing with other substances: Mixing mushrooms with other drugs, including alcohol, can increase the risk of negative side effects, including seizures, paranoia, and heart problems.
    A few simple tips and guidelines can go a long way toward spotting issues with drug use earlier rather than later.
    Learn more
    So your kid has been using drugs or drinking. Is this just what kids do? Is it going to become a problem? Don’t leave the answers to chance.
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    It can be scary if your child is using drugs or alcohol, and it's important to confront it. We're here to give you tips and strategies on how to do it.

    Last Updated

    May 2023

    [1]NIDA. “Hallucinogens.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, Accessed 3 Dec. 2018.

    [2]National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Commonly Abused Drugs Charts.” NIDA, 2 July 2018,

    [3]“Get Smart About Drugs.” Find Help | Get Smart About Drugs,

    Additional Sources:
    Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

    [4]GDS. “Thinking of using LSD for the first time? Here are some things to think about.” Global Drug Survey, 2018, Accessed 17 May 2023.