- Here’s another good reason to stay away from drugs.
Kids, don’t do drugs. Otherwise you might get fungus growing in your veins.
Wait, what? Isn’t that just one of those horror stories they tell you during the “Just Say No” lectures?
You might think so, but you’d be wrong. One man’s attempt to get high earned him only a trip to the ICU.
A new medical study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, details an unusual case, even by drug standards. A man injected himself with a “magic mushroom” tea, which caused the fungus to start growing inside his circulatory system.
The 30-year-old – known publically only as Mr. X – had dabbled into drugs before his fungus experiment. According to a report in IFLScience, he suffers from an opioid addiction.
Mr. X is also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, his family said. He had recently stopped taking his prescribed medication, which had caused to plunge into a severe depression.
It was then when he found out that magic mushrooms can sometimes be used in psychotherapy. An idea struck him – opioids had failed to make him feel better, but perhaps mushrooms would do the trick.
So, he acquired some magical fungi and prepared a tea, which is one way that recreational drug users ingest their psychoactive chemicals. Mr. X, however, decided that the mainstream way of consuming tea wasn’t for him.
Instead, he fell back into his opioid addict habits and injected the tea into his veins.
About to Kick the Bucket
And that’s when his troubles began. Following the injection, Mr. X started quickly developing numerous health issues.
When his family discovered him a few days later, the man was pretty much on the verge of death. His reported ailments included (but were not necessarily limited to) extreme confusion, nausea, jaundice, diarrhea, and vomiting blood.
Not only that, his internal organs – from his lungs to his liver and kidneys – had started saying “screw this” and were shutting down. As a cherry on top of the medical emergency sundae, his heart rate was through the roof and he was in septic shock.
In a nutshell, Mr. X was just about ready to go meet his maker.
Flowing in His Veins
His family rushed Mr. X to the hospital, where he was unsurprisingly placed into the ICU. That’s when the doctors noticed that at least part of his health problems were caused by strange clots in his veins.
They drew some blood samples, and that’s when the full horror of the situation hit them. The magic mushrooms had taken root and were growing in the man’s blood.
It was about at this point when Mr. X also experienced acute respiratory failure. In other words, his lungs quit their job.
The doctors put him in a ventilator and pumped him full of drugs. This time, though, the drugs were antibacterial and antifungal, instead of recreational.
It was perhaps against all odds, but the medical staff’s efforts bore fruit. Mr. X pulled through, and has by now been released from the hospital.
He’s still on a steady dose of antifungals, though. And these drugs he’s supposed to be taking, for once.
Drugs, Gods, and Therapy, Oh My!
Magic mushrooms, also known as psilocybin mushrooms, contain a psychoactive chemical after which they’re named – psilocybin. If ingested, psilocybin produces psychedelic effects similar to LSD, including vivid hallucinations and a “sense of unity with the world”.
Various native peoples around the world have traditionally used the mushrooms in religious ceremonies. The Aztec name for the psilocybin mushroom translates literally to “divine mushroom,” for example.
These days, the fungi are mostly used recreationally. While they are still mostly illegal, some U.S. locations have recently started decriminalizing them, including some cities in California and the state of Oregon.
However, Mr. X wasn’t completely wrong about the mushroom psychotherapeutic properties. Studies have shown that they can help in relieving, among others, depression and anxiety.
That said, when taken for medical purposes, the psilocybin content and intake is strictly controlled. It is usually taken as pills, although some studies have administered psilocybin to patients through intravenous injections.
Even then, though, the doctors don’t just squirt mushroom juice into your veins. The injection doesn’t contain any parts of the actual fungus, only the psilocybin.
Even when taken “properly,” psilocybin mushrooms can be dangerous. They could cause what those into recreational drugs call a “bad trip” – instead of experiencing pleasant hallucinations and feeling good, you could start seeing something utterly horrific or be wracked with fear and paranoia.
So if you’re experiencing depression and are looking for help, please don’t start taking magic mushrooms. Instead, contact medical professionals.
You don’t want to end up turning into a mushroom man like Mr. X.