Between prohibitions: patterns and meanings of magic mushroom use in the UK

Subst Use Misuse. 2008;43(1):55-71. doi: 10.1080/10826080701772363.


A survey of magic mushroom use was completed by 174 participants in 2004, a year when the sale of hallucinogenic mushrooms was not illegal in the UK. The data were collected in Edinburgh and Bristol (UK). Participants were a self-selecting convenience sample. Participants tended to be in their 20s, White-British, in education or employed; 64% were male. Participants reported a pattern of infrequent but intense consumption (47% used between 4-12 times/year, average consumption in one setting was 12 g, a high dose). Use was explained in terms of laughing, hallucinations, altering perspective (41-74%), and feelings of being closer to nature (49%). Negative experiences reported included paranoia (35%) and anxiety (32%). Mushroom use was located within a wider recreational drug and alcohol culture. Four focus groups aided the interpretation of the data. Future research is recommended into negative experiences. Implications for policy and harm minimisation literature are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Agaricales*
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Hallucinogens / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psilocybin / administration & dosage
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom


  • Hallucinogens
  • Illicit Drugs
  • Psilocybin