Shrooms and Alcohol: Is It Okay to Mix? 

Explore the potential consequences of combining shrooms and alcohol and learn how to use both safely and responsibly

Shrooms and Alcohol: Is it Okay to Mix? 

Simultaneous polysubstance use (SPU) — concomitant administration of multiple drugs — is a common phenomenon. Yet, little is known about how or why different drugs may be taken together, or at what dosages they may be consumed. The tendency for SPU is an issue that may confound our understanding of the positive and negative effects of certain drugs.

Most drug researchers focus on examining different substances under highly controlled conditions in the lab, rather than describing the various ways in which users interact with their drugs of choice. An emerging body of literature has demonstrated high rates of SPU across several different drug-using populations, including people with alcohol addiction, rave attendees, and adolescents

It can be said with certainty that a considerable proportion of SPU is conducted haphazardly by ill-informed recreational users, who, due in large part to the egregious failure of the drug war, might otherwise engage in more responsible experimentation of consciousness.

Despite the rather ill-informed judgments of Nixon, Reagan, and other advocates of total abstention, many drug users have figured out ways of combining psychotropic drugs to enhance desirable effects and/or diminish undesirable effects in ways that are both safe and responsible. 

Patterns of Simultaneous Polysubstance Use 

A 2006 analysis by Dalhousie University psychology professor Sean P. Barrett and colleagues revealed that alcohol use typically precedes the use of other recreational substances, including so-called magic mushrooms, or shrooms, which contain the classic psychedelic prodrug compound, psilocybin.

Nonetheless, many, perhaps more adventurous psychonauts, enjoy sipping away at alcoholic beverages after they have ingested shrooms and whilst they are engrossed in the vast expanse of the human psyche.

The propensity for users to mix shrooms and alcohol may be born out of a desire to achieve a specific neuropsychopharmacological effect, or simply to enjoy the transformed texture of a golden, crisp-cold beer resulting from psilocybin’s sensory-enhancing properties.

However, it is important to understand, before indulging, whether or not co-administering shrooms and alcohol is indeed a good idea, depending on each individual's preferred experience. 

Is it Safe to Mix Shrooms and Alcohol? 

The question of whether simultaneous use of shrooms and alcohol is safe is very much context-dependent and requires consideration of several important factors.

For instance, what is the quality of the user’s mental space at the time of consumption (set)? In what kind of physical and social environment are the drugs being consumed (setting)? And, how much of each drug does the user plan on ingesting (dose)?

A good mindset, comfortable setting, and responsible dosages are crucial determinants of the quality of one’s experience. Anything that can be done before journeying with powerful psychoactive drugs to ensure a clear mind and an open heart is likely to lead to a net-positive experience.  

That said, outside of the harms of drinking alcohol on its own, there are no immediate interactions between alcohol and psilocybin that are particularly physically harmful. That said, the effects of alcohol can intensify or attenuate the positive or challenging effects of shrooms.

The Effects of Mixing Shrooms and Alcohol 

Combining shrooms and alcohol can exacerbate feelings of disorientation and panic, which, if the user is inexperienced, or using in a sub-optimal context, can catalyze a destabilizing descent into a whirlwind of confusion or terror, aka, a so-called, so-dreaded, “bad trip”. This psychological phenomenon would perhaps more accurately be described as a difficult experience.

Alcohol also impairs the functioning of the prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain responsible for reasoning and judgment — which could lead to poor, impulsive decision-making. Even being aware of the fact that alcohol compromises one’s ability to reason effectively can instill an element of uncertainty surrounding one’s sense of general safety.

In other words, mixing shrooms and alcohol is more likely to result in a difficult psychedelic experience. 

Also, although there doesn't seem to be any additional physical risks of lightly drinking whilst journeying with shrooms, anecdotal data suggests that alcohol can impede exploration and prevent the unfolding of revelatory insight in those experimenting with magic mushrooms for spiritual or healing purposes. 

Psilocybin has the reliable ability to open people up to the realm of the mystical, the unknown, and the deeply hidden secrets of the collective unconscious. Blurring one’s capacity to experience such extraordinary phenomena seems a shame. 

Ultimately, however, each human possesses a unique blend of brain chemistry, so, just as no one psychedelic journey is the same, the effects of a shroom-alcohol psychedelic cocktail likely vary from person to person. Anecdotal reports suggest that mixing shrooms and alcohol produces wildly different effects across users.

is it okay to mix shrooms and alcohol

Co-use of Shrooms and Alcohol: a Help or a Hindrance? 

Reports on what to expect from individuals who have co-administered shrooms and alcohol vary quite considerably.

For some, alcohol imbues the shroom experience with a sense of stimulation, promoting social interaction and, with it, an urge to party. For others, the effect of alcohol is dulling and leads to an introspective, mellow experience that may be neither significant nor meaningful. 

In an earlier study by Barrett and colleagues in which 22 individuals were quizzed about their drug use, 60% of participants noted that shrooms diminished the effects of alcohol. 34% reported no change, and a mere 6.7% reported that shrooms enhanced the effects of alcohol.

Contrastingly, the majority of the sample (80%) reported that alcohol did not interfere with the effects of shrooms. However, two participants did report a diminished effect, and another participant reported that the effects of shrooms were enhanced when used in combination with alcohol. 

Interestingly, one participant reported experiencing a pleasant synergistic effect when mixing shrooms and alcohol, while another participant reported experiencing an unpleasant synergistic effect.

Likely, these effects are at least partially mediated by serotonergic and/or dopaminergic mechanisms. However, activity at either of these neurotransmitter systems is likely to influence a variety of neurobiological processes.

It should be emphasized that the complex pharmacology of psilocybin and ethanol (the principal ingredient in alcoholic beverages) remains incompletely understood.  More research is needed to attain a comprehensive grasp of the precise nature of the interactions between these two drugs.

Psilocybin for Alcohol Addiction? 

A 2015 study led by NYU professor of psychiatry, Mike Bogenschutz, showed that two doses of psilocybin delivered in conjunction with motivational enhancement therapy and therapy geared towards preparation and integration can increase abstinence in alcohol-dependent patients.

Participants who had been dependent on alcohol for an average of 15 years underwent 12 therapy sessions in total: seven sessions of motivational enhancement therapy, three preparation sessions, and two debriefing sessions. Therapy sessions were conducted by a team of two therapists in a room specially prepared to provide a living-room-like environment. 

Participants ingested individualized doses of psilocybin based on weight (0.3mg/kg and 0.4mg/kg) and were instructed to lie on a couch wearing eye shades and headphones playing a standardized program of music, and direct their attention toward their internal experience. 

Following psilocybin-assisted therapy, the number of days that participants engaged in moderate and/or heavy drinking significantly decreased with large pre-post effect sizes (a measure of the magnitude of the experimental effect.) Also, significant improvements were observed in drinking consequences, craving, self-efficacy, and motivation.

As has been the case in other studies investigating the anti-addictive properties of psilocybin, large correlations were observed between mystical-type effects and positive clinical outcomes. 

In Summary: Mixing Shrooms and Alcohol is Generally Safe, but may be Counter-Intuitive

Studies investigating drug-taking patterns have shown that simultaneous use of alcohol and psychedelics, particularly psilocybin, is quite common. 

Mixing shrooms and alcohol seems to be relatively safe provided the user has not also ingested any drugs from another class, including cardiovascular medications, narcotic analgesics, adrenergic agents, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, mood stabilizers, NMDA antagonists, psychostimulants, and antidepressants.

Although both psilocybin and alcohol interact negatively with medications from several psychiatric drug classes, there are no immediate negative interactions between the two alone. 

Interestingly, evidence suggests that psilocybin, when combined with supportive psychotherapy, can reduce alcohol consumption in alcohol-dependent individuals. 

Despite its relative safety, combining shrooms and alcohol may diminish the effects of alcohol and could increase the probability of experiencing unpleasant psilocybin effects.

Ultimately, it is safe to co-administer shrooms and alcohol if one so pleases, but combining the two appears to compromise the positive subjective effects of each in many users. 

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