Magic mushrooms are difficult to study. Roughly 5.5 million people take hallucinogens each year, but because so many react unpredictably to these drugs, it can be hard to go in depth about what they do and the effects they have. Most hallucinogenic mushrooms contain psilocybin, which is listed as a Schedule I narcotic in the United States. This means that according to the government, it’s an easily and frequently abused drug with no therapeutic value.

The fact that it’s generally illegal to possess or use psilocybin mushrooms means that if someone tests positive for use, the consequences can be wide-ranging — from ripple effects in your personal and social life to legal liabilities. With the potential pitfalls in mind, it’s worth looking at the most common drug detection protocols to find out whether mushrooms show up in a drug test.

Understanding Drug Tests: Different Types and Their Detection Methods

There are a lot of different drug tests on the market, and they work in different ways depending on the form. The most common tests scan urine, blood, saliva or hair for traces of controlled substances or their breakdown products. Whether or not a drug shows up in these results depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • The type and sensitivity of the test used
  • Whether the substance is being specifically tested for
  • How much of the substance is present and what its concentration is
  • How long it’s been since you’ve used the drug
  • How heavy your past use has been
  • The type of drug itself and whether it’s easily metabolized by the body or tends to be persistent

The most commonly administered drug test in the United States is the 5-panel test. This is a urine sample test that checks for chemical traces of THC (marijuana), cocaine, PCP, amphetamines (meth/speed) and opioids (morphine, heroin, fentanyl). Psilocybin does not appear on this list — in fact, most drug tests don’t account for it. Some industries and government agencies make use of the more expansive 8-, 10- and 12-panel tests, none of which test for psilocybin.

Psychedelic Mushrooms: Clarifying the Substances Involved

Magic mushrooms create a strong hallucinogenic effect by introducing psilocybin to the brain. While present, the substance alters the way the brain works and causes intense feelings of unreality, euphoria, hallucinations and erratic behavior. Many users describe spiritual and religious revelations, along with feelings of intense joy, love, fear, paranoia or dread. Still, other people may have different experiences — effects of the drug are vast and difficult to catalog.

Chemically, the drug moves fast through the system. People who take a single hit of psilocybin mushrooms can experience the effects of the drug within an hour of taking it, followed by a brief comedown period, with traces of the drug excreted in as little as 5 hours. Most users retain a detectable trace of psilocybin for around 24 hours after their last dose, though traces of the drug have been found up to 1 week after exposure.

Testing for Mushrooms: Exploring the Possibility of Detection

The rapid breakdown and excretion of psilocybin make it hard to detect, even when you take a test that’s been calibrated to find it. This is why blood and saliva tests can’t pick up on magic mushroom use, since the drug is metabolized far too quickly for these fluids to contain detectable amounts. Urine and hair may contain traces for longer periods, but the test would have to be performed during the detection window while the drug is still present in the body’s tissues and fluids — otherwise it won’t appear.

Factors Affecting Detection: Considerations That Impact Mushroom Detection in Drug Tests

Psilocybin, and therefore magic mushrooms, is very unlikely to be detected by standard drug testing protocols. In order to spot the breakdown products of the drug, notably psilocin, it would be necessary to administer the test between 5 and 24 hours after the last dose. Unless a magic mushroom user takes the drug very frequently, it’s not likely that a random drug test will fall within the detection window. Moreover, if the person has taken nothing but magic mushrooms, it will only show up on a specialized test — and these tests tend to cost much more than the standard 5-panel urinalysis.

There is, however, an exception to this rule. It frequently happens that people mix magic mushrooms with other drugs, and those drugs are very likely to be caught on a standard drug panel. The most popular drug to mix with psilocybin is PCP, which does appear on 5-panel tests, and the fad is persistent enough that even casual users might get tested during the detection window. Still, in this case, the test results would only give a positive result for the PCP without the context that it was mixed with another hallucinogen.

Seeking Accurate Information: The Importance of Knowing What Drug Tests Can Detect

A positive result on a drug test can mean all kinds of trouble. You might be denied a new job, fired from your current job, have probation or parole revoked or even face disciplinary action if you’re a member of the armed forces. Knowing what substances are likely to be detected on a standard drug test is helpful in avoiding these consequences, but it only sidesteps the real problems of illicit drug use.

If you’re using drugs and working hard not to get caught, or you suspect a loved one might be using in private, it may be time to reach out for support. Call the compassionate professionals at Sunlight Recovery for a free, confidential consultation over the phone. You don’t have to give your name to get help, and this first step could be one of many on the road to a lifetime of recovery.