'Magic Mushrooms' Deemed Safest Recreational Drug

By Britni de la Cretaz 05/26/17

The psychedelic reigned supreme partially because the drug's users tend to prepare and practice harm reduction before their trips.

Image: 
a small group of psilocybin

Recently released results from a new study show that “magic mushrooms” rate as the safest recreational drug—coming in ahead of cannabis, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, methamphetamine and synthetic cannabis.

The Global Drug Survey 2017 looked at data from 120,000 individuals from over 50 countries. The GDS states that its aim is to “make drug use safer regardless of the legal status by sharing information in a credible and meaningful way.”

More than 12,000 people reported taking psilocybin hallucinogenic mushrooms in 2016, but just 0.2% of them said they sought emergency medical treatment—a rate at least five times lower than that for MDMA, LSD and cocaine.

“Magic mushrooms are one of the safest drugs in the world,” Adam Winstock, a consultant addiction psychiatrist and founder of the Global Drug Survey, told The Guardian. “Death from toxicity is almost unheard of with poisoning with more dangerous fungi being a much greater risk in terms of serious harms.” 

According to the GDS, magic mushrooms are the world’s most commonly used psychedelic drug. Not only that, they report that people who use psychedelics tend to show some of the best preparation and use of harm reduction practices of any other drug.

However, Winstock told The Guardian that, “Combined use with alcohol and use within risky or unfamiliar settings increase the risks of harm, most commonly accidental injury, panic and short lived confusion, disorientation and fears of losing one’s mind.”

The GDS provides current data on patterns of use, harms, and health for the full spectrum of drug users. It's worth noting, however, that respondents were overwhelmingly male (68%) and overwhelmingly white (90.5%). The mean age was 29, and 47.6% of respondents reported that they go clubbing at least four times per year. Seventy-nine percent of respondents had used illegal drugs, while almost all had used legal drugs.

One of the most dangerous drugs identified by the study was synthetic cannabis, also known as “spice” or “K2.” Over 1 in 30 users sought emergency medical treatment in the last year after using synthetic cannabis, and of those who had used it more than 50 times in a year, the number shot to 1 in 10. Men were found to be more at-risk than women.

Synthetic cannabis—which is nothing like real cannabis—has proven to be incredibly hard for authorities to regulate. Many people exhibit bizarre symptoms and behavior after taking it, which can include hallucinations, paranoia, and aggression. There have been rashes of overdoses and even death as a result of synthetic cannabis use. 

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.

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