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Addressing the Shroom Stigma

In certain circles, talking about using psilocybin mushrooms is no big deal, and no different than saying you are going to drink a beer or have a glass of wine. Shrooms have never been more popular, or more available, so there are plenty of people with whom you can discuss the use of shrooms without getting any sideways glances or critical responses. 

Of course, while those circles are gradually growing, they are still pretty modest in comparison with the population of the world as a whole. For countless people, the use of shrooms still carries a stigma that doesn’t come along with the use of something like alcohol. Unfortunately, that stigma may prevent some people from learning more about what shrooms offer, and they might not give them a try when they would have been interested otherwise. 

We aren’t going to be able to eliminate this stigma with the words of this article, be we can spend some time talking about why it exists and what the landscape might look like moving forward. 

Mushroom Education

The primary reason that a stigma exists around the use of shrooms is a lack of general education among the public regarding what it means to use shrooms and what they do to the mind. Most people don’t understand that shrooms can and should be used in a responsible, controlled manner to open up experiences that simply wouldn’t be possible otherwise. 

Yes, it is a drug, but lumping shrooms into the same category as other drugs that have a destructive, addictive power over those who use them would be lazy and inaccurate. If more people understood the basics of what shrooms do and why they are getting more and more popular, there would be no reason for a stigma to continue to exist. 

The Myths Surrounding Magic Mushrooms

The stigma around shroom use is unfair and based almost entirely on misunderstandings. There are myths that float around that people tend to believe without bothering to look any deeper or get the facts for themselves (even if they aren’t interested in using shrooms personally). Four of the major myths that swirl around in this space are listed below. 

  • Magic Mushrooms Are Highly Addictive. One of the most frustrating myths about magic mushrooms is that they are highly addictive. In reality, they are not chemically addictive in any way. Unlike substances such as opioids or nicotine, magic mushrooms do not lead to chemical dependency. While they can be habit-forming, which may cause people to use shrooms regularly if they enjoy the experience, this is not a drug that develops a chemical addiction within the human body. 
  • Magic Mushrooms Are Deadly. Another misconception is that consuming magic mushrooms is life-threatening in some way. There is no lethal dose of psilocybin reported in scientific research, although users should certainly be careful to use appropriate doses and gradually work their way into this experience by increasing dosage as they gain familiarity. Deaths associated with magic mushrooms are rare and typically the result of accidents or dangerous behavior while under the influence.
  • Magic Mushrooms Lead to Insanity. The idea that magic mushrooms can induce permanent madness is another myth that should have been eliminated long ago. While a psychedelic experience can be intense and disorienting, it does not lead to long-term mental illness. In fact, some research suggests that psilocybin therapy may have therapeutic potential for mental health conditions like depression and PTSD.
  • Magic Mushrooms Are a Gateway Drug. This seems to be a myth that surrounds pretty much every substance that humans can use, including shrooms. There is a common belief that experimenting with magic mushrooms will inevitably lead to the use of more dangerous substances. However, there is no scientific evidence to support the “gateway drug” theory. Many individuals who try magic mushrooms do not progress to using harder drugs.

The Realities of Magic Mushrooms

If myths are the cause of the stigma around shrooms, it’s only the truth that can help us gradually move away from this line of thinking. Spreading the realities of psilocybin mushrooms to as many people as possible can help to gradually chip away at the myths we discussed above and will replace those incorrect beliefs with an accurate understanding of what shrooms do and the potential they hold. 

With that in mind, let’s take a moment to highlight just some of the many positive aspects of psilocybin mushrooms. 

  • Therapeutic Potential. Research into the therapeutic potential of magic mushrooms is ongoing and promising. Studies show that psilocybin therapy may be effective in treating conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction. Clinical trials and real-world experiences show that when used under controlled conditions and with professional guidance, magic mushrooms can have a positive impact on mental health.
  • Low Risk of Harm. Compared to many other substances, magic mushrooms have a relatively low risk of harm when used responsibly. In a survey of drug-related harm, psilocybin ranked lower than alcohol, tobacco, and several other drugs in terms of overall harm to users and society. If people can use it safely, and if it delivers many positive features, it would be a shame for psilocybin to remain locked behind a stigma for much longer. 
  • Changing Legal Status. The legal status of magic mushrooms is evolving in some regions. For example, psilocybin therapy has been legalized in parts of the United States, such as Oregon, California, Colorado, and Washington D.C. Other jurisdictions are considering decriminalization or regulation. These changes reflect a growing recognition of the potential benefits of these substances. 

Like anything else, progress on the stigma of using shrooms is likely to be slow, but hopefully steady. In large part, it will be the changing of laws that allows progress to be made here, as more and more people will be exposed to shrooms as they become more accessible and legal in more places. And, as more and more people experience shrooms, the stigma will gradually melt away because of familiarity. It seems a safe bet that the general public perception of shrooms will look far different a decade from now than it does today. 

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