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Tolerance and Magic Mushrooms: Everything You Need To Know

If you take magic mushrooms, you will notice that the effects are less intense if you trip frequently and without breaks in between. This is because we develop a tolerance that diminishes their effect. Learn all you need to know about magic mushrooms and tolerance.

Experienced psychonauts know that the effects of magic mushrooms will be weaker if they don’t take breaks between trips. What’s more, should you get frustrated about a lack of intensity from your shrooms and decide to trip on something else, such as LSD, you will notice that the LSD trip has also become less intense. What you are experiencing is a phenomenon known as psychedelic tolerance.

How does tolerance come about? And most importantly, how you can you avoid it? Are there any dangers if you don’t take breaks between your psychedelic journeys? Let us take a closer look at tolerance and how it can affect your experience with psychedelics.

WHAT EXACTLY IS TOLERANCE?

When we talk about tolerance, we talk about our bodies adapting to the continued presence of a drug. This can be psychedelics such as magic mushrooms or LSD, but also alcohol, nicotine and many other substances. When we develop a tolerance, it means we need higher doses to get the previously achieved desired effect. It can also happen that if someone is taking certain drugs very often, tolerance may build up to the point where the person doesn’t experience the effect at all, so they move on to a different drug in hopes of chasing that original high.

WHY WE BUILD UP A TOLERANCE TO PSYCHEDELIC SUBSTANCES

Our body wants to keep everything in balance. When we take drugs or other substances that our body sees as foreign, and don’t allow for some time in between, our body starts to speed up the metabolism with increased liver function to get rid of the “foreign” substance.

But a sped-up metabolism isn’t the only way our body reacts to the continued presence of a drug in our system. Many psychedelic substances, including the psilocybin in magic mushrooms, are what’s known as serotonin receptor agonists. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has a popular image as a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness. Studies on animals have suggested that the density of serotonin receptors is reduced with frequent drug use.

CROSS-TOLERANCE: WHEN TAKING ONE DRUG AFFECTS ANOTHER

The way the psilocybin in magic mushrooms works is very similar to how LSD, mescaline, and various other psychedelics make us trip. They all work by affecting the above-mentioned serotonin 5-HT2A receptors. Because of this relationship between common psychedelics, there is the phenomenon of cross-tolerance between these drugs. Said differently, when your body develops a tolerance to psilocybin, the effects of taking LSD or mescaline will also be weaker.

But not all psychedelics work in the same way. The DMT in ayahuasca, for example, does not desensitise the serotonin receptors, so it doesn’t lead to tolerance. Likewise, magic mushrooms and LSD don’t have an effect on cannabis. The reason for this is that THC acts on the cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system, and not on the serotonin receptors like magic mushrooms. There is no cross-tolerance between the effects of weed and shrooms.

HOW LONG DO YOU NEED TO WAIT FOR TOLERANCE TO RESET?

You can quickly build up a tolerance to magic mushrooms. The good thing is, you lose that tolerance almost as quickly as you build it. All you need to do is allow at least several days between taking full doses of these substances. However, the responsible psychonaut will allow a much longer break between trips. Tolerance aside, psychedelic trips are intense and profound; to only give a few days or weeks between trips is to push the envelope on experiencing positive effects.

WHY THIS SUPPORTS A LOW DEPENDENCY RISK WITH MAGIC MUSHROOMS

How our body gets used to the effects of certain substances can obviously be a problem if we’re talking about substances with potential for addiction. A good example here is alcohol: Alcoholics will need to drink frequently and in large amounts to satisfy their body’s cravings, despite the drinking wreaking havoc on their health.

Fortunately, the addictive potential of magic mushrooms is far less than that of other substances, including alcohol. A study performed in 2008 found that young adults who took psilocybin and other hallucinogenic drugs did not have an increased risk of drug dependence later in life. This is noteworthy to mention as the consumption of many other substances, including cannabis, tobacco, certain prescription drugs, and other stimulants was shown to lead to an increased risk for drug dependence.

Moreover, there are no direct negative health consequences of taking magic mushrooms. If someone develops a tolerance for shrooms, the effect will be less and less intense until it’s rendered almost null. There is no point in continuing to take shrooms when this happens. But even if you take a break now, your body won’t crave it like other substances such as alcohol or nicotine.

Indeed, a 2010 study performed in the Netherlands compared 19 different recreational drugs, finding psilocybin to be the substance with the lowest potential for harm. These results match findings on shroom safety asserted by an earlier British study.

ARE THERE ANY DANGERS OF TOLERANCE AGAINST PSYCHEDELICS?

Although there are no immediate dangers related to building a tolerance to magic mushrooms, some potentially negative outcomes of frequent overconsumption include:

  • Higher risk for a bad trip

Developing a tolerance means you need a larger dose to achieve the desired effect. If you want to keep the risk for a bad experience low, it is always better to stick to the typical recommended dosage—even if this means waiting a few days between trips.

  • Taking too much after a break

Likewise, those who develop a tolerance might be inclined to go on a short tolerance break before taking a large dose of mushrooms the next week. Given the sensitivity of shroom tolerance, this could be enough to catalyse an overwhelming experience.

  • It may have other negative consequences

One potential negative outcome of building a tolerance to shrooms is that it could lead someone to try harder, more dangerous drugs. If the effects of shrooms aren’t doing it anymore, some individuals might be inclined to move on to other substances.

TOLERANCE & MAGIC MUSHROOMS: THE BOTTOM LINE

Avoiding tolerance when you’re taking magic mushrooms is really easy: Take them responsibly and know to always wait several days (at the very least!) before embarking on your next trip. This way, you can get the most out of enjoying your magic mushrooms!

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