The use of psilocybin, a compound found in “magic mushrooms,” has become increasingly popular among adolescents and young adults in the United States. This trend has led to a significant spike in poison control calls related to psilocybin exposure, prompting concern among emergency medicine physicians and epidemiologists.

Psilocybin was decriminalized in Denver, Colorado, in 2019, making it the first city to take such a bold step. This move was followed by other cities and states, including Oregon and Colorado, legalizing the recreational use of magic mushrooms. Despite the decriminalization and legalization, psilocybin remains a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act in the U.S., indicating its high potential for abuse and lack of accepted medical use.

A study analyzing data from U.S. poison control centers between 2013 and 2022 revealed a concerning trend in psilocybin-related exposures among adolescents and young adults. The number of cases significantly increased after 2019, coinciding with the decriminalization of psilocybin in Denver. This rise in exposures has resulted in serious health effects among young individuals, including hallucinations, delusions, and agitation.

The data from the study showed that a significant percentage of psilocybin-related cases among adolescents and young adults required medical attention, with some individuals being admitted to hospitals or psychiatric facilities. The most common effects of psilocybin exposure included hallucinations, rapid heart rate, and confusion, highlighting the potential dangers associated with its use.

The increase in psilocybin poison control calls among youth is reminiscent of the rise in acute cannabis poisoning cases following the legalization of marijuana in 1996. This parallel suggests a concerning pattern of substance use among adolescents and young adults, despite legal restrictions prohibiting individuals under 21 from using or buying psilocybin.

The surge in psilocybin-related poison control calls among adolescents and young adults is a growing public health concern. The decriminalization and legalization of psilocybin in various cities and states have opened the door to increased access and use among youth, leading to potentially harmful consequences. Efforts must be made to educate and prevent young individuals from engaging in the recreational use of psilocybin to safeguard their health and well-being.


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