23-year-old woman with ‘magic mushroom’ addiction puzzles city doctor

After cases of youngsters using the drug, Spice, were reported, doctors and psychiatrists say they are treating youngsters who are using this gateway drug that is known to create heightened state of ecstasy lasting about eight hours

Magic mushroom, Mumbai's newest party drug?

Shikha Rao, a 23-year old, was detected with borderline personality disorder. While treating her, Dr Sagar Karia, realised she was also using magic mushroom, a party drug, known for hazardous hallucinogenic effects.

“Shikha is already suffering from a personality disorder, added to which she has caught on to this addiction. Magic mushroom gives a high that can be categorised as excessive euphoria,” said Dr Karia, secretary, Bombay Psychiatric Association.

Magic mushroom is the latest recreational drug that has become a fad among youngsters. It is a form of mushroom known for its hallucinogenic effects. Even though it is weed, it is not recognised in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropics Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985. “The reason it is not recognised by the NDPS Act is because there are thousand such weeds, effects of which are not necessarily known,” said Dr Anjali Chhabria, consulting psychiatrist in Mumbai and founder of Mind Temple.

Rahul and Renuka Pai (names changed) came knocking at a psychiatrist’s door, seeking help for their son 19-year-old son Sudhip. He had been detected with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) at the age of 14. Sudhip, who was sent to a boarding school because he was ‘naughty’, was he seen indulging in a variety of drugs, magic mushroom being one of them.

“Sudhip has ADHD and he is also a drug addict. His condition added to his addiction. A person addicted to magic mushroom looks for a high state of ecstasy,” said Dr Chhabria.

“I know magic mushroom is used abroad. It is known to give heightened effects of perception such as colours, sounds and light. The effects generally last for about eight hours at the most,” said Dr Priyanka Mahajan, psychiatrist at Masina Hospital.

The bigger trouble with the drug is it is a gateway drug. “Magic mushroom is a gateway drug, which means it can lead to hardcore addiction later,” explained Dr Chhabria.

Doctors and experts say a lot of buyers are even duped into buying other drugs in the name of magic mushroom. “I have had two patients, both in the age group of 19 to 22, who were given LSD in the name of magic Mushroom. Both of them got addicted thinking it was magic mushroom, which is neither illegal nor known to have side effects. After running tests on them, we realised they were taking LSD. This is scary because it means a lot of people, who take drugs, don’t know what they are consuming,” said Dr Rohan Jahagirdar, psychiatrist at Chaitanya Rehabilitation, Pune.

New in Mumbai

Magic mushroom is a plant weed that is generally consumed in places such as Kodaikanal, where it is freely available and accessible. The cases of people consuming it have been seen in Mumbai only recently. It is banned in many countries such as Australia, Netherlands and parts of the UK. Prolonged effects of magic mushroom could be neuro-psycho disorders or complications in the brain.