First things first. We’re not advocating the consumption of drugs – legal or illegal, to be fair – but, if you choose to partake but you’re not sure where to start, hallucinogenic mushrooms are a relatively safe bet. According to the 2017 Global Drug Survey, they are one of the safest recreational drugs to take.
The survey, which involves 120,000 people spread across 50 countries, is the most comprehensive drug survey in the world. It aims to get a snapshot of the types of drugs people take, how frequently they take them, why they consume them, and what effects they have on them, positive or negative.
The results are slightly skewed by the fact that people have to recall their own drug-taking history and answer honestly, albeit anonymously. Still, it makes for some interesting reading.
Safety, in this sense, can be measured by the proportion of people taking a drug that then needed emergency medical treatment. With both legal and illegal drugs all taken into consideration, it appears that magic mushrooms were indeed the safest drug to take, with just 0.2 percent of users saying that they needed emergency help afterwards.
In contrast, MDMA, LSD, and cocaine’s post-consumption help-seeking rates were around five times higher. The survey suggests that although bad trips can occur, it’s mainly from picking the wrong kind of mushrooms that causes a problem. Bad trips don’t help either, but it appears the good trips outweigh the frightening ones.
Incidentally, methamphetamine was the most dangerous drug to take by this measure, with 8.2 percent of users needing emergency assistance afterwards. Synthetic cannabis (2.2 percent) and alcohol (1.4 percent) were second and third, respectively. This ranking is only based on personal harm, however, not indirect harm to others.
With this in mind, two of the most comprehensive scientific studies on drug use ever conducted both concluded that alcohol is by far the most dangerous drug, thanks to the high level of harm it causes to the user and to others around them. Conversely, mushrooms were ranked far further down the list for the opposite reasons.
The survey reveals that 99 percent of respondents consumed alcohol at some point during their lives; 78 percent took cannabis, and 63 percent smoked tobacco. MDMA, consumed by 34 percent of people, was the most popular illegal drug to take after tobacco with cannabis, which was smoked by 55 percent of people. The least popular drug was mephedrone, which only 1.9 percent partook in.
Highlights of the report. GlobalDrugSurvey via YouTube
Not all countries responded in equal measure. Germany saw 36,000 respondents, whereas France only had 500 participants. Roughly 90 percent of the volunteers were white, and around 50 percent had university degrees. It’s safe to say that this survey, although insightful, does not represent a particularly wide demographic.