They’re an il­le­gal drug, but that doesn’t stop the hunt for mush­rooms

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - ESTEL FARELL-ROIG Re­porter estel.farell-roig@waleson­

AF­TER his best friend died from an over­dose of pre­scrip­tion drugs and opi­ates, Marc (not his real name) was strug­gling. The 30-year-old was suf­fer­ing from post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der (PTSD) and se­vere anx­i­ety, and he ended up turn­ing to old habits such as co­caine, which had been a bur­den on his life many years be­fore.

He sought med­i­cal ad­vice from his doc­tor, who of­fered him a pre­scrip­tion of what had just killed his friend.

Marc, from Swansea, said: “This made no sense to me – I had to find an al­ter­na­tive.

“In­stead of pre­scrip­tions for an­tianx­i­ety and PTSD, I used mi­cro doses of LSD and dried magic mush­room daily.

“If it wasn’t for psilo­cy­bin [a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring psychedelic com­pound pro­duced by more than 180 species of mush­rooms] and Di­men­thyl­tryptamine (DMT) [a hal­lu­cino­genic drug] I would be in a grave right now.”

Marc, who has tried most drugs, said psychedelics saved his life, adding that he felt Val­ium and ben­zobased drugs would only mask his anx­i­ety.

Psychedelics, on the other hand, made him truly think about the rea­sons be­hind his men­tal health and find a way to solve his is­sues rather than bury­ing them deeper, he said.

“All this drug [Ben­zo­di­azepinebased med­i­ca­tion] does is numb and mask prob­lems rather than ac­tu­ally work­ing out what is wrong in your life,” he said. “Talk­ing about your prob­lems openly is the first step.

“The next step is to find your in­ner peace and re­alise your own self­worth.

“Psychedelics have helped me more than any­one could ever imag­ine.”

Magic mush­rooms have a key in­gre­di­ent called psilo­cy­bin which means that, when they are eaten, they can pro­duce hal­lu­cino­genic and psychedelic ef­fects.

Psilo­cy­bin mush­rooms are con­sumed in many ways, fresh or dried and, for ex­am­ple, some peo­ple brew them into tea or put them into food.

Un­der the The Mis­use of Drugs Act 1971, magic mush­rooms are listed as a Class A drug, the same class as heroin. Fresh mush­rooms were made il­le­gal in 2005.

It is il­le­gal to be in pos­ses­sion of them, and be­ing found to be can lead to up to seven years in jail and/or an un­lim­ited fine. Sup­ply­ing some­one else is pun­ish­able with life im­pris­on­ment and/or an un­lim­ited fine.

At the mo­ment, Marc is tak­ing cannabis sup­ple­ments daily in dif­fer­ent forms and psychedelics in mi­cro­doses, with the oc­ca­sional full dose “to spice life up a lit­tle bit”.

He said that, if it wasn’t for psychedelics, he would be in a very dif­fer­ent place, in­stead of run­ning a suc­cess­ful com­pany, hav­ing two mort­gages and a happy fam­ily.

His anx­i­ety and PTSD are now at a con­trol­lable level where he could lead a nor­mal, happy life, he con­tin­ued.

“I feel that, even if I suf­fer from an­other tragic event, I have the tools in my life not to suf­fer like I pre­vi­ously had to,” Marc said.

Marc, who first tried mush­rooms aged 14, goes mush­room hunt­ing him­self and, if not, gets them from friends or buys them through the dark web.

He said: “Of course I en­joy hunt­ing for them – what is more fun than find­ing some­thing as mag­i­cal as the psilo­cy­bin mush­room? It’s glo­ri­ous to stum­ble across a patch of those beau­ti­ful nip­ple-shaped fungi.”

The first time he tried magic mush­rooms he said it was a fun ex­pe­ri­ence with a group of friends in some woods. They only had a small amount, but it was enough for them all to ex­pe­ri­ence some mild hal­lu­ci­na­tions and a lot of laugh­ter.

“When trip­ping, it is not about what you see,” Marc said. “Your per­cep­tion is changed and your senses are height­ened. Colours be­come a lot more vivid and your hear­ing may even be­come more tuned in to higher fre­quency.

“Soon, the world be­comes a hap­pier and fun­nier place to be.

“The trips can be­come more vivid, and walls can be­gin to melt and bright colours may have changed to beau­ti­ful geo­met­ric pat­terns that will have you in an ul­ti­mate tran­quil state.

“Psychedelics come in many forms but the ma­jor­ity of ‘trips’ are not a hal­lu­ci­na­tion of a fly­ing dragon chas­ing you round a room.”

Marc said he had never had a bad trip and that his ad­vice was to take psychedelics when in the right state of mind.

The 30-year-old con­tin­ued: “Be­ing in a com­fort­able en­vi­ron­ment is ev­ery­thing for me when I want to get my trip on.”

Danny (not his real name), on the other hand, had a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence of magic mush­rooms, say­ing he felts they take him into a spir­i­tual world.

“Magic mush­rooms re­lax me – they make me feel nice and make me laugh,” the 33-year-old said. “They make me feel like I don’t have to worry about any­thing.

“I like to do them with friends and peo­ple that I know. I am lucky be­cause I have never had a bad trip.”

Danny, who also uses other drugs such as cannabis, said he had been tak­ing mush­rooms since he was a teenager.

He re­called the first time he took them and, as he was wait­ing out­side his friend’s house, he could see two sumo fight­ers fight­ing on the pave­ment.

“I could hear mother earth talk­ing to me,” he con­tin­ued. “She was say­ing there is some­thing wrong with the planet and that she needed my help to sort it out.”

Danny, from Port Tal­bot, said that, for him, the ef­fects could last be­tween nine and 12 hours, with the ex­pe­ri­ence be­ing in­tense for the whole time.

“I nor­mally see very vivid colours, which helps me with my art a lot,” he said. “A lot of the colours I use in my art come from what I have seen when I have been on magic mush­rooms.

“It is such a lovely feel­ing. They are one of my favourite drugs.”

Danny said he en­joyed hunt­ing for the mush­rooms as well, as it was ex­cit­ing. Be­cause they are only out in Septem­ber, they were some­thing to look for­ward to, he con­tin­ued.

Danny of­fered to take us mush­room hunt­ing one day and, on a sunny Septem­ber af­ter­noon, he took us to fields in the Neath area.

We started walk­ing and, at first, we didn’t find any­thing. How­ever, within half an hour, I found our first mush­room – it was bright red and had white spots. It was a Fly Agaric, ac­cord­ing to Danny. He said he had spent 12 years search­ing for one and couldn’t be­lieve I had found one on my first magic mush­room hunt.

The Fly Agaric, which be­longs to a dif­fer­ent fam­ily and should not be con­fused with psilo­cy­bin-con­tain­ing mush­rooms, is stronger than the tra­di­tional “lib­erty cap” mush­room.

They are taken by some for hal­lu­cino­genic prop­er­ties, al­though they have un­pleas­ant side ef­fects. These in­clude twitch­ing, drool­ing, sweat­ing, dizzi­ness, vom­it­ing and delir­ium – and in­cor­rect prepa­ra­tion may lead to death, as they are poi­sonous.

It was not un­til we went to an­other, much big­ger field with sheep that we found lib­erty caps, one of the most com­mon and wide­spread species of magic mush­rooms found in Europe. They are re­ally small and you have to scan the ground closely.

We went some min­utes without find­ing any and, then, all of a sud­den, we found quite a few of them.

At the end of the walk, we had found two hand­fuls of mush­rooms, but Danny said: “I had bet­ter take these from you now or you could be in a lot of trou­ble.”

For more ev­i­dence-based in­for­ma­tion on magic mush­rooms, you can visit DrugS­cience, a com­mit­tee chaired by Pro­fes­sor Nutt.

South Wales Po­lice were con­tacted for com­ment.

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