So you’re just laying down in the middle of the desert with your buddies, looking at the stars with Pink Floyd’s ‘Great gig in the sky’ playing on a portable speaker and you’re wondering about your place in the universe, if there even is one, to begin with; the entire realm of existence being just electrical signals in the brain does seem possible.
All of this because you’ve all eaten a bag of magic mushrooms.
Yeah, mushrooms – you heard that right. These mushrooms are one of the various types of psychedelic substances consumed by people to get high. Unbeknown to many, these and a lot of other psychedelic drugs are widely available in various parts of Pakistan, but chances are you already knew that.
What are psychedelic substances and where did they come from?
Psychedelic substances, which include hallucinogens such as Magic Mushrooms and LSD, alter your perception of reality and cognitive ability. They typically heighten your consciousness, allowing you to feel your existence and surroundings with an altered perception.
Many psychedelic drugs are banned all over the world under the UN conventions, only being allowed to be used in religious or research context. Despite these controls, recreational use of psychedelics is common. These drugs gained popularity during the hippie movement in the 1960’s. Much of the music from that era, including that of bands such as The Doors, Pink
These drugs gained popularity during the hippie movement in the 1960’s. Much of the music from that era, including that of bands such as The Doors, Pink Floyd and Jefferson Airplane, was, to an extent, inspired by these drugs and the usage of these drugs by the band members. These drugs are also said to have paved the way for a distinct style of visual art that is most commonly associated with the free-spirited look of the 1960’s and 70’s.
What happens when you consume a psychedelic substance?
“Things in front of me transformed into something animated. Like you’d see in a cartoon from the 70’s or 80’s” one local user, who we’re going to be referring to as Panda from here on, shared.
For others, the visual element is experienced in other ways but almost always, the experience is trippy, heightened and detached from reality. Another user, Polar Bear (as we’ll call him) shared, “for me, a crack in the wall will start to appear in three separate layers and a mosaic floor will appear to have pools of spinning glass”.
There is a feeling of disassociation with oneself, also. In Polar Bear’s case, for example, there was a complete death of the ego. “I have thoughts that I normally wouldn’t allow myself to have. There is a sensation of experiencing yourself without any filters”, he shared.
For Panda, however, the trip becomes more about analyzing different instances which one would normally not give any heed to. Panda recalls that it allows him to become vocally more expressive in scenarios where he may otherwise be an introvert.
“I have even made some of my friends uncomfortable since people don’t like to be told how they are”, Panda chuckled.
Why do people consume psychedelic drugs when you have alcohol and hasheesh already available?
Unlike alcohol or hash, psychedelics are not used as an anti-depressant of sorts, even though they do take you on a “high”. Rather, as per users, they allow people to become more one with their own self. Apparently, they help in coming to terms with who one is, as a person. Even bad trips where negative thoughts become more dominant are taken as an opportunity to confront dark parts of oneself.
In Western countries, several studies during the past few years have propagated the use of psychedelics, magic mushrooms in particular, to treat psychological disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorders.
What sorts of psychedelic substances are consumed in Pakistan?
In Pakistan, magic mushrooms are mainly homegrown for both personal use and selling. Spores i.e. units of mushrooms can also be purchased online from international websites. As far as the law is concerned, it is not yet clear what the legal status of the consumption of magic mushrooms is since their usage is relatively new.
Meanwhile, LSD is mainly smuggled through neighboring countries and sold to active buyers in academic institutions and recreational consumers, elsewhere.
There have also been reports of LSD being made locally. Reportedly, authorities have raided places and obtained large quantities of LSD from local manufacturing facilities. Some unsuspecting consumers in Pakistan have also died due to poisonous substances being sold in the name of LSD by fake sellers in the market.
While a communal culture revolving around psychedelics is forming, the majority in Pakistan consumes them for recreation as opposed to self-therapy
“In my opinion, I have not seen people who really use them to explore themselves. I think for the greater part its still being used recreation ally to enjoy the “crazy shit’ you are bound to see,” shared a consumer.
Most people recommend that psychedelics be consumed in a group with people you trust because of the extreme nature of the trips and hallucinations one can experience because of these substances. There may be instances where you might feel being left alone is best, after the consumption of a psychedelic but being among people can help ensure safety in case of any issues.
According to experts, while consumption of psychedelics can result in “trippy experiences” because research on their usage and effects is still extremely limited, there are risks involved and dangerous side effects in the consumption of such substances.
MangoBaaz does not propagate the use of unnatural substances nor do we believe in judging people on their personal choices. What we do believe in is observing what’s happening around us and having a civilized discussion over such interesting occurrences.
Cover image via: Chris Kindred / motherboard.vice.com