If you’re being honest, you probably clicked on this article with a certain amount of skeptical disbelief, after blurting out something like, “Uhm, what the hell?”
…at least that was the response from my weekly writing group, when I mentioned this growing trend of using hallucinogenic mushrooms to cope with the stresses of parenting. (And to think when I was parenting, there was only coffee…lots of coffee).
I’d love to say the title was just click bait.
But the title IS real—using psychedelics, like LSD and “Magic Mushrooms”, is becoming a popular trend in young parenting circles. It even has a name: “psychedelic parenting,” or more affectionately, “mushroom moms.”
The was the next question from my writing group, followed quickly by a healthy debate and a concerns for the young child, whose parent ostensibly has just consumed trippy ‘shrooms—not an unreasonable response.
In this article, I’ll answer not only the “Why”, but also the “How and “What,” leaving you with enough information to create a realistic modern-day “mushroom mom” character for your next screenplay or manuscript, complete with some interesting plot twist ideas. (This article focuses on hallucinogenic mushrooms. I’ll address LSD at a later date).
So hold on for a fact-filled “trip” through psychedelic parenting (see what I did there?).
- 1. The Whats
- 2. The Whys
- 3. The Hows (How to get, take, act, feel, and how long effects last)
- A. How will my character get the magic mushrooms?
- B. How will my character take the mushrooms?
- C. How will my character act and feel?
- D. How long will the effects last in my character?
- Now you try it:
- Like what you’ve read here?
- References you may find useful
1. The Whats
Specific varieties of mushrooms contain psylocibin, a chemical that causes hallucinations. These so called “magic mushrooms” have been used for their mind-altering properties for 1000’s of years.
The psychedelic parenting trend uses “microdoses” of magic mushrooms—theoretically just enough drug to cause a lift in mood and energy, without hallucinations. But since the dose that causes hallucinations is different in each person, there’s no specific “microdose.” Finding the right dose can take some trial and error.
That sound like an interesting plot twist!
2. The Whys
- Stress: Proponents of this trend claim it helps them cope with the challenges of parenting, leaving them less stressed and better able to respond to the demands of raising children.
- Postpartum depression: Some moms advocate microdosed magic mushrooms to help reduce postpartum depression.
- Cost and access: Hallucinogenic mushrooms are considered by some (although not medically approved) as a cheaper alternative to formal drug treatment programs for depression. Mushrooms are easier to get and cost only a few dollars compared to the $100s or $1000s for some prescription treatments, such as ketamine.
- Character portrayal: Overall, microdosing magic mushrooms can be realistically portrayed as an attempted coping mechanism for your character,who is poorly dealing with parenting demands or suffering-partum depression. It would be accurate to let your character be told by a friend that mushrooms will improve mood, reduce stress, increase energy, and create what has been described as a “sparkly world.”
And what character doesn’t want their world to sparkle?
3. The Hows (How to get, take, act, feel, and how long effects last)
A. How will my character get the magic mushrooms?
- From a Friend:
- It’s not uncommon for a parent to hear about this trend from a friend who already uses he mushrooms to destress.
- Through social media and phone apps:
- While illicit corner drug deals still exist, many transactions have moved to social media apps, utilizing a coded language based on using emojis. See here for more details.
- Home grown:
- Not as likely for a character just starting to use these mushrooms, but this may be a longer term answer for an ongoing cheap supply. Hallucinogenic mushrooms can be grown from spores. Surprisingly, the spores don’t contain psilocybin and are not illegal to buy. Spore kits are available to purchase online (https://thethirdwave.co/mushroom-grow-kits/) and a large number of online videos offer growing tips for turning these plain spores into peppy parenting plants.
- A few tips:
- Not at the grocery store!
- Don’t have a character buy psilocybin mushrooms in the grocery store. There is no chance the produce aisle contains these hallucinogenic fungi.
- To keep the story believable, check legalities for the year and locale in which your story is set. Laws are changing rapidly in the US, including decriminalization of possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms in some areas of the country. For example, it 2020 it would not be realistic to have your character arrested in Washington DC for possessing hallucinogenic mushrooms. Shift that story to 2010 and it becomes plausible.
- Not at the grocery store!
B. How will my character take the mushrooms?
- Teas: Some users boil ground mushrooms into a tea.
- Capsules: Some users take capsules filled with powdered mushrooms.
- Mixed into food: Powdered mushrooms can also be mixed into other foods, such as smoothies or peanut butter to mask what’s described as an extremely bitter, earthy, unpleasant taste.
… Are you seeing a scene where that kale smoothie handed to your character by a “friend” actually contains psychedelic mushrooms? Yeah, me too.
- Right from the whole mushroom: Some people prefer to take small bites directly from the mushroom, itself. Dose errors are easy this way, and your scene can realistically take an unexpected, but fun to write, direction.
C. How will my character act and feel?
- Believable effects: According to users, microdoses of mushrooms will make your character seem happier, more energetic, and sociable. Thoughts may seem more clear. The world’s problems may seem to recede, allowing better focus on important issues, instead of being overwhelmed. The character can believe that creativity has been improved. The world may look “sparkly” with glittery objects or color trails that follow objects.
- Not believable:
- No tripping: While the world may vibrate or shimmer a little bit, with a true microdose, your character should not seem to be “tripping.” (Save this for a wrong dose twist!)
- No addiction: Don’t plan on having your character addicted to psilocybin mushrooms, at least not physically. Withdrawal is not a thing with this drug. On the other hand, psychological addiction—believing parenting is not possible with the mushrooms—can occur.
- Realistic negative effects: On the other hand, finding the right microdose is very individualized, so dosing accidents can easily occur, causing your character unexpected troubles. Even mildly wrong doses can lead to severe vomiting, especially if food was recently eaten. Or the character may become emotional, crying or giggling randomly, including at inappropriate times.
- Writing dangerous effects: It’s when your character takes a really wrong dose that the fun writing begins. Does the character see objects that don’t exist? Hear voices? Or have an out-of-body experience? A scene with an accidentally tripping mom at a grocery store with her 8-year-old daughter could quickly pivot to an arrest scene, leading to a protective child custody battle, in a twisty turn. Or maybe the daughter grabs mom’s phone and calls her aunt, who rescues the family from the produce aisle, before mom’s antics are on full display.
- Need to step is the danger up a notch? Add a bit of danger with the following:
- Wrong mushrooms:
- A character out in the woods picking what she believes are wild magic mushrooms can lend a dangerous plot twist. Many wild mushrooms look alike, but some are lethal—pick the wrong mushroom and the character may not survive the scene.
- Tainted drug supply:
- Street supplies of many illicit drugs (including psilocybin mushrooms, cocaine, oxycodone, and marijuana, to name a few) are increasingly laced with fentanyl, often in lethal amounts.
- See here for information on the dangers of hidden fentanyl. Some magic mushrooms are basic grocery store varieties laced with LSD, ketamine, or even MDMA (ecstasy).
- Wrong mushrooms:
D. How long will the effects last in my character?
- Starting effects: Give your character about 30 minutes to start feeling the mushroom effects, from a shimmering, vibrating world with small color trails to an elevated mood.
- Wearing off: The visual shimmering effects will wear off over 6-8 hours. The positive mental effects, however, are said to last for several days. Because of this, mushrooms are often only taken from every 3rd day to every couple of weeks. If daily doses are taken for a week or two (a less popular approach), then a drug “holiday” of a month or two is taken. These drug-free holidays avoid “tolerance,” a condition where higher and higher doses are needed to get the same effects.
Now you try it:
Ready to have one of your own characters use magic mushrooms? Develop a scene involving a character’s first experience with psilocybin mushrooms. Why did the character decide to try them? How were the mushrooms taken? What happens?
Play with the scene, then share it (or any other insight) in the comments below!
Like what you’ve read here?
This is a just a small sample of what you will find in my upcoming handbook for putting your characters in peril with realistic drug scenes!