Should children be eating magic mushrooms?
Seth Rogen has revealed that the secret to his success might be magic mushrooms. He first took them at 13, and by 16 was “the family breadwinner” from doing stand-up.
He told Vulture: “I’ve started reading more about drugs as I’ve gotten older and what I’ve read has made me think, Man, I did a lot of shrooms when I was like 13 and 14 years old — dozens of times at a formative age. It’s a real consciousness-expanding drug, so maybe it’s had pretty deep effects.”
He also notes “Shrooms are a very insightful drug — very introspective. I did shrooms recently and then quit a job the next day. So yeah, I’ve made some real-life decisions as a result.”
However, should a 13-year-old boy really be taking shrooms?
No, is the short answer - the brain is still developing at that point (which is why teenagers are so awful). Any psychoactive substances can, at that stage, interfere with your brain development.
But what about when you’re all grown up?
The active ingredient in magic mushrooms is psilocybin, which works in a similar way to LSD - euphoria, hallucinations, perceiving time and space differently, trippin’ ballz. The biggest danger a mushroom-muncher risks is actually eating the wrong type of mushroom and dying from the poison - mushrooms like fly agaric are hideously toxic. There’s also, as with all psychedelic substances, the risk of a “bad trip”.
The right mushrooms, however, are among the safest of all drugs used recreationally. The 2017 Global Drug Survey found that only 0.2% of the 10,000 respondents who had taken mushrooms needed emergency medical treatment (as compared to nearly 5% - 25 times as many - for methamphetamine).
But it’s not out of the question that mushrooms aren’t just less bad than some other drugs (and non-addictive, unlike a lot of stuff) - there might even be benefits to taking them, benefits beyond, for example, looking back fondly for years at the time you got really high on mushrooms and threw loads of bags of crisps at your friend Tom’s face while laughing maniacally for what felt like many wonderful hours, just to use a completely made up example.
There are strong suggestions that magic mushrooms might be good for people with depression and anxiety, but as this BMJ article notes, the legal classification of psilocybin and similar substances makes doing clinical trials incredibly difficult.
This means that there is conflicting advice out there - the Department of Health’s “Talk to FRANK” service says flashbacks are a very real possibility of mushroom use, while this study found no evidence of that.
A study at Johns Hopkins University, reported in Psychopharmacology, found mushrooms to be useful in terms of improving general long-term psychological health - not just in how the participants themselves felt, but in terms of their relationships with other people.
There are currently campaigns to reclassify magic mushrooms in terms of legal status in order to explore the positive effects of them, but under the current government it isn’t going to happen. They’re pretty unshiftable on it.
You could say, scientists wishing to explore this subject don’t have mush room to maneouvre.
(Seth Rogen would have written a better joke that that, because he’s full of fun, funny drugs.)
(Pics: Getty, Pixabay)