Unlike many illicit drugs, magic mushrooms are considered to be pretty safe — in fact, a 2017 study labeled them “the safest recreational drug.” They’re not addictive, are far less toxic than the likes of heroin or cocaine and have been shown to actually improve rather than worsen mental health issues like depression and PTSD.
That doesn’t mean, however, you can just pop as many as you like and have a great time. You still need to consider dosage, how to set yourself up for a good trip, and of course, make sure that you’re definitely eating a magic mushroom, as ingesting the wrong type of mushroom (aka not a psychedelic one) can be fatal if it’s poisonous. Amid these thoughts will also come two, arguably more urgent, questions: Can you overdose on shrooms? And, if you do, can you die?
Overdoses can happen with almost every drug — illegal or not — most notably opioids. Shrooms are, perhaps surprisingly, no exception. But unlike opioid overdoses — which kill more than 136 Americans every day — magic mushroom overdoses are unlikely to be fatal. According to addiction education site Project Know, taking too many shrooms or ingesting a particularly strong batch can lead you to experience panic attacks, delusional thoughts, paranoia, agitation, or more seriously, psychosis, seizures or “a complete psychological collapse.” But aside from side effects like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, which can happen on regular trips, there are no physical symptoms of a shrooms overdose, and it’s very, very, very unlikely that you’ll die (if you’ve taken actual psychedelic mushrooms, that is).
One redditor shared their experience of a possible shrooms overdose in r/MagicMushrooms last year, writing: “I was scared shitless. For a good 30 minutes, it felt like my soul was leaving my body, and I was trying to stop it by staying conscious. I’ve never been that scared with shrooms, having done it numerous times before. After I threw up, I felt a lot better. [I was] no longer uncontrollably going into unconsciousness, and I was able to sleep it off. For the first time in eight years of psychedelic and drug experiences, I really thought that I was going to die if I fell asleep.”
Although there’s no sure-fire way to stop a mushroom trip once it’s started, if you’re worried you’ve overdosed or are having a bad trip, you can rest assured that you’re highly unlikely to need medical attention — again, if you’re certain you’ve taken actual shrooms, that is. According to the 2017 Global Drug Survey, out of almost 10,000 people who took magic mushrooms, just 0.2 percent needed emergency medical treatment. In this scenario, your best bet is to ride the trip out in a safe environment with people you trust (preferably a sober trip-sitter).
If you’re worried you’ve accidentally taken poisonous mushrooms — which could happen if you misidentify them when picking them yourself — you should immediately seek medical help. If you’re foraging, there’s various online guides that can help with proper identification. Still, your best bet may be to buy them online or from a trusted dealer. According to Project Know, the symptoms of mushroom poisoning may be difficult to distinguish from that of an overdose, but if someone is struggling to breathe, has lost consciousness or is severely panicked, paranoid or suffering with psychosis, it’s worth calling a doctor.
To avoid overdosing in the first place, I’ll say it once more: You should get your shrooms from a reputable source, or grow them yourself. You should then start off small with your dosage — particularly if it’s your first time taking shrooms. A good guide for dried shrooms is: 0.05 to 0.2 grams for a microdose; 0.5 to 1.5 grams for a light dose; 1.5 to 2 grams for a moderate dose; 2.5 to 3.5 grams for a strong dose; and 3.5 grams and more for a heavy dose. Also remember to plan your set and setting beforehand, to establish a calm and peaceful environment — thus encouraging a positive trip. And, obviously, look out for your friends.
Be safe, and happy shrooming!