People Are Deliberately ‘Horror-Tripping’ on Mushrooms

“Generally, a ‘bad trip’ is the last thing you want from a sesh on psychedelics. When it feels like the darkest corners of your mind slither to the forefront of your thoughts, you usually fumble for a way out. But that’s not always the case. “Dark trips help you see things in a way that good trips won’t let you,” says Enrique, 26, from Ojai, a small city northwest of Los Angeles. “Dark trips grab you by the skull and shake the shit right out of you.” He would know. He turned to “horror-tripping” – intentionally going down a negative cerebral path, to challenge yourself – while going through heroin withdrawal.

As an LSD veteran, Enrique knew the power of psychedelics, but, he says magic mushrooms delivered a sense of clarity like nothing else: “Letting in the darkness by tripping teaches you a lesson – and you damn well pay attention to it.”

In both the UK and the US, funding is flowing towards research into psilocybin, the active component of magic mushrooms, as a treatment for depression. The world’s first formal centre for psychedelic research launched at Imperial College London in April, with scientists there suggesting psilocybin will have a major impact on psychiatry in the next few years. Adam Winstock, consultant psychiatrist and founder of the Global Drugs Survey, has told VICE that when the 2020 report is released next month, it will show a spike in people attempting to self-treat with psychedelics.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, a chill creeping in with the dank scent of autumn means the start of the UK’s magic mushroom season. Scores of spindly fungi are pushing up through the earth and into the light, ripe to be plucked until around the end of November.

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