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Adverse experiences resulting in emergency medical treatment seeking following the use of magic mushrooms

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Emma Kopra, Jason A. Ferris, Adam. R Winstock, Allan Young, James Rucker

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)965-973
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Psychopharmacology
Issue number8
Early online date7 Apr 2022
E-pub ahead of print7 Apr 2022
PublishedAug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article: Professor Young’s independent research is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London. James Rucker holds a Clinician Scientist Fellowship Award (CS-2017-17-007) provided by the National Institute for Health Research at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, UK, which is part-funded by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. Publisher Copyright: © The Author(s) 2022.


King's Authors


Psilocybin-containing mushrooms are used for recreational, spiritual, self-development and therapeutic purposes. However, physiologically relatively nontoxic, adverse reactions are occasionally reported.

This study investigated the 12-month prevalence and nature of magic mushroom-related adverse reactions resulting in emergency medical treatment seeking in a global sample of people reporting magic mushroom use.

We use data from the 2017 Global Drug Survey – a large anonymous online survey on patterns of drug use conducted between November 2016 and January 2017.

Out of 9233 past year magic mushroom users, 19 (0.2%) reported having sought emergency medical treatment, with a per-event risk estimate of 0.06%. Young age was the only predictor associated with higher risk of emergency medical presentations. The most common symptoms were psychological, namely anxiety/panic and paranoia/suspiciousness. Poor ‘mindset’, poor ‘setting’ and mixing substances were most reported reasons for incidents. All but one respondent returned back to normality within 24 h.

The results confirm psilocybin mushrooms are a relatively safe drug, with serious incidents rare and short lasting. Providing harm-reduction information likely plays a key role in preventing adverse effects. More research is needed to examine the detailed circumstances and predictors of adverse reactions including rarer physiological reactions.

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