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Why You Can’t Tell If You’ve Pissed Yourself While on Shrooms

As a recent Reddit thread showed, a surprising number of people constantly think they’re peeing their pants while they’re tripping, even though they aren’t. Why, mushrooms? WHY?!

One of the nice — or, depending on what’s happening, worst — things about psychedelic trips is that no two people will have the same experience, meaning nobody else will ever know exactly what’s happening for you. Except, that is, when it comes to one very specific mid-trip phenomenon: constantly thinking you’ve pissed yourself.

“Is it normal to not know if you are peeing while on shrooms?” one concerned redditor asked the psychonauts of r/Psychedelics this week. “I couldn’t tell what was dry and what was wet, I thought I peed myself like 10 times and cried every time (I never peed myself).”

If you think this seems too idiosyncratic to be universal, you are — apparently — wrong. “This is pretty normal,” replied one commenter. “It’s so weird that this is a consistent theme with psychs, but yes this has happened to many, many, many people,” wrote another. “The phantom wet sensation is super common.” Other agreeing responses included, “I know this feeling,” “This happens to me on shrooms and acid” and “Yes. This happens to me a lot. I have to do underwear checks!”

This isn’t the first time the question has been put to Reddit, either — in fact, it’s pretty commonly asked. And, it seems it’s not just psychedelics. On Twitter, a couple of people told me it’s happened to them while smoking weed. “It’s almost like I lose the sensation or feeling of my bladder and/or urinary tract, and I no longer trust that it’s holding everything in as it should,” one person explained via DM.

So why exactly does this happen? 

“Psilocybin mushrooms are among those substances that can cause frequent urination,” says Giulia Guerrini, the lead pharmacist at digital pharmacy Medino. “This could be related to the 5-HT2A and 5HT1A serotonin receptors, which are both stimulated by psilocybin to release serotonin in the brain. Research shows that these receptors are also connected to the control of the urethra. My theory would be that the combination of psilocybin making you urinate more often and your brain amplifying every sensation when taking shrooms might lead you to believe that you’ve wet yourself, when in reality you’re fine.”

However, adds Guerrini, “more research is needed, as there aren’t any papers discussing the topic, so I can only make an educated guess from the information we have.”

Someone on Twitter also pointed out, simply, that people are tripping, and weird things happen when you trip. “Psilocybin alters your perception of reality and your senses, including touch and smell,” continues Guerrini, “so it’s very easy for your brain to focus on a feeling, whether physical or abstract, and amplify it to the point where it feels real.”

Don’t let this newfound knowledge allow you to become complacent and piss yourself, though. If you’ve taken shrooms, and you feel like you need to go, you should probably try and go — just in case.