medically reviewed

The Effects of Mixing Mushrooms and Alcohol

Find out about the potential effects of mixing shrooms and alcohol, and learn more about addiction, treatment and recovery from alcohol and mushroom abuse

Though there is not much coverage in the scientific literature about overwhelmingly adverse interactions between alcohol and the primary psychoactive component of mushrooms, mixing mushrooms and alcohol may alter subjective levels of intoxication which at any level comes with certain risks, such as accidents and bodily injury. Further, any problematic use of alcohol can be associated with several short- and long-term mental and/or physical health issues.

magic mushrooms, shroomsWhile the harm potential of mixing mushrooms and alcohol hasn’t been fully investigated, one study found using mushrooms could mask some of the effects of alcohol.1 Since the effects of one drug can cover up the effects of the other, it could lead to increased consumption of both.2 Combining shrooms and alcohol may have somewhat unpredictable results, making it difficult to know for sure what will happen.3

Keep reading to find out more about the potential effects of mixing shrooms and alcohol, and learn more about addiction, treatment and recovery from drugs and alcohol.

What Are Psychedelics?

Psychedelics, also called hallucinogens, are substances that have characteristic psychoactive effects.3 Drugs in this class can change your experience of reality and can alter your thoughts, perception, and mood.3 Though they differ in their mechanism of action, because they have some overlapping characteristics, dissociative drugs are sometimes included in a broader discussion of hallucinogens.4 The classic hallucinogens, which are thought to alter serotonin activity in our brains, can cause you to hallucinate, which means that you see, feel, or hear things that aren’t there; dissociative drugs can make you feel detached from yourself, so you might feel like you’re outside of your body.3,4

Different Types of Hallucinogens

Different hallucinogens have different effects, and people use them for a variety of reasons. Some of the common classic hallucinogens include LSD (D-lysergic acid diethylamide); peyote (mescaline); and psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N, N dimethyltryptamine), also known as shrooms or magic mushrooms.4 People use these to hallucinate and experience their psychedelic effects. Common types of dissociative drugs include PCP (phencyclidine), ketamine, and salvia (Salvia divinorum). Use of these drugs can result in profound disorientation and a feeling of detachment from yourself and your enviroment.4

Methods of Hallucinogen Abuse

People abuse hallucinogenic substances in different ways, and it can vary by substance. Some hallucinogens can be brewed into tea or taken in liquid or pill form.4 Some substances, like ketamine and PCP, can be taken orally, but are sometimes snorted or smoked.4 Hallucinogens can cause scary or dangerous, but not typically life-threatening, effects. When using hallucinogens, individuals may suffer from negative short-term health effects like increased blood pressure, nausea, intense feelings and perceptions, sweating, sleep problems, dry mouth, and panic.4

In rare cases, people who use hallucinogens over a prolonged period may be at risk of developing persistent psychosis, which means that you might continue to experience visual disturbances, disorganized thoughts, paranoia, and mood changes long after the drug effects would normally wear off.4 It could also result in a condition known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), which can cause you to experience flashbacks or recurring drug experiences, including hallucinations.4 However, while anyone who uses hallucinogens can develop these conditions, they appear to be more common among people with co-occurring mental illnesses (like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder).4

Free and low-cost alcoholism treatment is available.

What are Mushrooms?

Hallucinogenic mushrooms include certain species of mushrooms that have psychedelic properties. These mushrooms contain psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine) or psilocin (4-hydroxy-N,N-DMT) as the psychoactive components responsible for their hallucinogenic effects.4,5 According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), psychedelic mushrooms are typically found in tropical and subtropical regions of South America, Mexico, and the US.4 People use shrooms by eating them fresh, brewing them into tea, or adding them to food to mask their bitter flavor.3,5

magic mushroomsOne review article from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics states that psychedelics are generally considered to be physiologically safe and are not typically associated with dependence or addiction.6 However, NIDA notes that the potential for dependence, tolerance, and addiction depends on the specific hallucinogen.4 For example, LSD doesn’t might not be associated with addiction in the way that many other substances of abuse are, but its repeated use can quickly lead to significant tolerance as well as cross-tolerance to other classic hallucinogens like psilocybin.4

Additionally, the Drug Policy Alliance states that psilocybin is not considered to be addictive, with one possible reason being that your body develops such high levels of tolerance to the substance very quickly, so you would need to use unrealistically high doses after just a few days of repeated use.7 In such cases, you won’t experience their effects if you do use them, which may disincentivize continued use.7

Mixing Shrooms and Alcohol

So, while there might not be any inherently adverse interactions from mixing shrooms and alcohol, there still are many unknowns involved. Drinking while taking any hallucinogen could be contraindicated simply because it’s never wise to mix drugs with alcohol due to the risk of increased impairment. The Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) reports that combining psychedelic drugs with alcohol can have unpredictable effects, including further decreases in coordination and increased chances of vomitting.3

Side Effects of Mushrooms and Psychedelics

While the side effects of psychedelics can vary widely depending on the specific drug, some potential adverse effects of shrooms include:4,8,9

  • Nausea.
  • Emotional disturbances.
  • Face numbness.
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Sweating and high body temperature.
  • Exaggerated reflexes.
  • Loss of urinary control.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Twitching, or convulsions.

At times, individuals can experience what is called a “bad trip,” which can include disturbing hallucinations and sometimes unpredictable or panicked behaviors.3 A bad trip might include:8

  • Extreme fear and anxiety.
  • Agitation.
  • Mental confusion.
  • Psychotic features such as frightening images and severe paranoia.
  • Loss of a sense of reality.

These effects could add to the potentially adverse side effects of drinking alcohol and, given that some studies have shown that mushrooms might attenuate, or reduce, the subjective effects of alcohol, you might actually be more impaired than you think you are, but continue to drink.1

Few studies have examined the long-term effects of shrooms, or the long-term effects of both shrooms and alcohol use.9 However, one clinical review of self-reported health outcomes found some evidence to support more frequent negative general health outcomes in those who used psilocybin in addition to other substances, particularly alcohol.8 The study notes that such “health outcomes” may be suggestive of longer-term complications to result from such a polysubstance combination, though the negative effects may be due mostly to the other substance being used, especially alcohol.8

As mentioned above, a bad trip can occur when you use psilocybin which can lead to certain frightening or unpleasant physical and mental symptoms.3 Not only can these symptoms be scary, but the ADF reports that a bad trip could also cause you to engage in harmful behaviors, such as running across a road or attempting suicide.3 A bad trip like this is more likely to occur in people who have consumed a large amount or strong batches of shrooms.3 On the other hand, a “come down” involves the symptoms that can occur in the days after you’ve used hallucinogens and is typically associated with insomnia, fatigue, body and muscle aches, and depression.10

Keep in mind that it can be dangerous to combine other psychedelics, such as LSD or peyote, with shrooms as well. Mixing drugs that belong to the same family of substances (such as hallucinogens) can dangerously boost the intoxicating effects of the drugs.2 Additionally, it’s important to note that people who use mushrooms can have a serious risk of accidental poisoning if they consume poisonous mushrooms that look like psilocybin.4 Such mis-identification could lead to severe illness or even result in fatal outcomes.4

What is Alcoholism?

alcoholism and mushroomsWhen alcohol use becomes compulsive to a point that a person continues drinking despite the associated social, occupational, and health issues, they may be said to suffer from alcoholism.11 Alcoholism is a colloquial term that is used to describe severe problem drinking or alcohol use that causes a significant impact on their health and well-being and leads to distress.11,12 The clinical diagnosis for alcoholism is known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), and in the U.S., around 18 million American adults suffer from AUD.12

Warning Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder

A diagnosis of alcohol use disorder may be made for those who experience or exhibit at least 2 of several characteristic criteria within a 12-month period.13 Some of these symptoms include:12

  • Using larger quantities or more frequent amounts of alcohol than you originally intended.
  • Being unable to stop drinking or cut down your alcohol use, even though you want to.
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of alcohol.
  • Experiencing strong cravings to drink.
  • Being unable to meet your obligations at home, work, or school because of your alcohol use.
  • Continuing to drink even though you experience social or relationship problems that are probably due to your alcohol use.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms (like nausea, racing heart, sweating, or insomnia) when you stop drinking. You also notice that these symptoms go away if you start drinking again.

Meeting 2-3 of these symptoms indicates a mild AUD, 4-5 indicates a moderate AUD, and 6 or more means a severe AUD.13 Although not everyone who drinks alcohol can or will develop an addiction, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 says that drinking less is better for your health.14

And according to a recent study published in the Lancet, there is no safe level of alcohol use; any amount of alcohol use can lead to health risks, including liver disease, some types of cancer, and cardiovascular disease, as well as an increased risk of injuries.15 If you suspect that you may have a substance use disorder (SUD) or are struggling with alcohol, the good news is that treatment can help you stop drinking and work toward recovery.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Effective treatment for drug and alcohol abuse often begins with a detox period followed by admission to an inpatient or outpatient treatment facility. Detox involves a set of interventions, including medications when necessary, to help you safely and comfortably stop drinking and withdraw from alcohol.16 It is designed to help stabilize you throughout the withdrawal period to better prepare you for more comprehensive substance rehabilitation. Withdrawal from alcohol can be dangerous in certain cases, especially for people who have been long-term or heavy drinkers and developed significant physiological dependence as a result; some withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures, can be life-threatening.16 This is why the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration advises hospitalization or another form of 24-hour medically-supervised detox if you are withdrawing from alcohol, especially if you are at risk for severe withdrawal.16,17

As detox is just the first portion of early recovery efforts, it alone may not adequately address the psychosocial reasons that contributed to your addiction, which is why it can be beneficial to enter a professional rehab once you have successfully withdrawn from alcohol. Additional treatment encourages you to work on the issues that led to the addiction and helps you develop insight so that you can make positive life changes. Effective treatment for drugs and alcohol often includes a combination of private and group therapy, behavioral therapies, medication, and mutual support groups.18

The good news is, most people struggling with alcoholism can benefit from some form of treatment, no matter how severe the problem may seem.18

Getting Help for Alcoholism

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism or drug abuse, consider reaching out to an American Addiction Centers (AAC) admissions navigator for information about rehab. Alcohol.org is a subsidiary of AAC, a nationwide provider of addiction treatment centers offering specialized care and custom treatment plans to meet your unique needs.

Our facilities are well-equipped to provide treatment for people dealing with addiction alongside any co-occurring medical and mental health issues. Call us to learn more about our facilities, our approach to treatment, or speak to someone about your insurance coverage. All calls are 100% confidential; there is no obligation to make a decision right away.

Sources
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[1]. Barrett, S. P., Archambault, J., Engelberg, M. J., & Pihl, R. O. (2000). Hallucinogenic drugs attenuate the subjective response to alcohol in humans. Human Psychopharmacology, 15(7), 559–565.

[2]. Government of Western Australia Department of Health. (n.d.). HealthyWA: Mixing Drugs is Dangerous.

[3]. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. (2020). Psychedelics.

[4]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Hallucinogens DrugFacts.

[5]. Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d.). Psilocybin.

[6]. Nichols, D. E. (2016). Psychedelics. Pharmacological Reviews, 68(2), 264–355.

[7]. Drug Policy Alliance. Are psilocybin mushrooms addictive?

[8]. Bienemann, B., Ruschel, N. S., Campos, M. L., Negreiros, M. A., & Mograbi, D. C. (2020). Self-reported negative outcomes of psilocybin users: A quantitative textual analysis. PloS one, 15(2), e0229067.

[9]. Government of Canada. (2020). Psilocybin and psilocin (“Magic mushrooms”).

[10]. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. (2020). LSD.

[11]. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2020). Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder.

[12]. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2017). MedlinePlus: Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).

[13]. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). American Psychiatric Publishing; 490-491.

[14] U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020). Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025, 9th Edition.

[15]. World Health Organization. (2018). There is no safe level of alcohol, new study confirms.

[16]. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2006). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 45.) 4. Physical Detoxification Services for Withdrawal From Specific Substances. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

[17]. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2019). Alcohol withdrawal.

[18]. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2021). Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help.