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Mushrooms used as illegal drug alternatives by students alarming

“We need to enhance drug prevention education and strict monitoring in schools.” This is the call of Senator Win Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, to the Department of Education (DepEd) after receiving reports that some high school students were hospitalized for using psychedelic mushrooms or ‘magic mushrooms’’ as illegal drug substitutes.


VALENZUELA CITY, Philippines – A gathering of students outside their school building during a program. DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said recently that some rural high school students are turning to psychedelic mushrooms, that contain psilocybin, a substance that can cause muscle weakness, drowsiness, lack of coordination and fatal poisoning. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones last week reported that some high school students are turning to psychedelic mushrooms which are easily accessible in rural areas. The DepEd chief added that these mushrooms could be more dangerous since they are not forbidden by law.

“Nakakabahala itong ibinahagi ng DepEd na pagkakasakit ng mga bata dahil sa magic mushrooms at marami rin tayong dapat malaman. Gaano na karami ang naiulat na ganitong uri ng insidente? Paano natuklasan ito ng mga mag-aaral? Saan ito laganap? At ano-ano ang naging mga epekto nito sa ating mag-aaral?” Gatchalian said.

“Kung alam natin ang mga detalyeng ito mas madali para sa ating mag-isip at magpatupad ng mga solusyon para masiguro ang kaligtasan ng kabataan,” Gatchalian added.

Psychedelic mushrooms contain psilocybin, a substance that falls under Schedule I of the United Nations’ Convention on Psychotropic Substances in 1971, which the Philippines ratified in 1974. Drugs and substances that fall under Schedule I are not used for medication and have a high potential for abuse. Among the undesired acute effects of psilocybin are muscle weakness, drowsiness, lack of coordination and fatal poisoning.

Despite the risks associated with psilocybin mushrooms, some studies abroad also suggest that psilocybin may provide therapeutic benefits supporting its development as a new drug.

The Global Drug Survey 2019, which generated data from more than 120,000 people in 30 countries, found that only 0.4 percent of participants reported seeking medical treatment after using magic mushrooms.

“Ang mahalaga sa puntong ito ay ma-protektahan natin ang kabataan mula sa panganib na maaaring idulot ng mga magic mushrooms na ito. Ngayong sinusuri ng DepEd ang kanilang preventive education program, mahalagang masuri kung paano ba ito tatalakayin sa mas mabisang paraan para manatiling ligtas ang ating mga mag-aaral,” Gatchalian said.

The DepEd started providing drug prevention education in 2016 specifically to those in grade 3 or aged nine.

Last year, the DepEd rolled out detailed lesson plans as part of its efforts to integrate drug prevention education in the curriculum.

Now, there are ongoing efforts to align to international standards.