Youth 911 Calls Surge Following Magic Mushroom Decriminalization

Youth 911 Calls Surge Following Magic Mushroom Decriminalization

Calls to US poison control centers and first responders among youth have surged in the wake of a recent push to decriminalize “magic mushrooms” by states and municipalities across the nation.

Statistics from the National Poison Data System show that emergency calls following exposure to psilocybin, the active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms, more than tripled in the 13-19 age group between 2018 and 2022. Calls for emergency assistance more than doubled among young adults between the ages of 20 and 25 in the same time period.

The surge follows years-long efforts to decriminalize recreational psilocybin consumption among persons 21 and over. Decriminalization has already occurred across a number of states, including Colorado and Oregon, and cities, including Seattle, Detroit, and Washington D.C.

Despite efforts to restrict unlawful use by minors, however, the alarming increase in adverse medical and mental health events related to magic mushroom use among teenagers reflects the limitations of such regulations.

The implications are concerning, researchers note, because the long-term impacts of psilocybin on teens’ developing brains are unknown. However, the prevalence of severe adverse reactions, with more than 75% requiring medical intervention, does not bode well for youth who consume these hallucinogens.

Among the most prevalent effects of psilocybin exposure in teens and young adults include hallucinations and delusions, agitation, tachycardia, and confusion. Outbursts of violent behavior have also been reported.

The sometimes extreme neurophysiological impacts of magic mushrooms on young people are thought to be caused by disruptions to neurotransmitter activity. Given that any lingering effects on adolescent brain development and neurochemistry remain a mystery, the increasing accessibility and appeal of magic mushrooms to young people is especially worrisome, researchers suggest. They note that these hallucinogens are becoming widely available in edible forms that are likely to attract teens, including chocolates and gummies.

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