National Hangover Day - Are Mushrooms Safer Than Alcohol?

New Year’s Eve is the time when we let go of all our inhibitions and celebrate with friends and family. Our farewell to the bygone months and the welcome of a fresh year often take the form of excessive drinking.

Excessive drinking during the New Year’s Eve isn’t a rare phenomenon. According to the American Addiction Centers (AAC), New Year’s Eve is the second booziest holiday, with Americans consuming an average of 4.4 drinks on the day. Of those surveyed, 40% of women and 47% of men admitted to binge drinking to celebrate the arrival of the New Year.

So much so, that January 1 – the first day of the New Year – is unofficially declared as National Hangover Day. The day recognizes that much of the world wakes up and welcomes the New Year with a nasty hangover.

Many people justify binge drinking by calling it a New Year’s Eve tradition. Many of them are unaware of the dangers of moderate to heavy alcohol consumption. Plus, most of them are unaware of a much safer and more enjoyable alternative.

In the course of this article, we’ll discuss the health hazards of alcohol consumption and why mushrooms have emerged as a better choice than alcohol.

Social Drinking: A Socially-Accepted Health and Social Hazard

Exactly nine decades ago, the United States ended the prohibition of alcohol that lasted for 13 years. Now, during every holiday season, we witness an unprecedented increase in the sales of alcoholic beverages.

What appears as simple and harmless social camaraderie has, in recent times, grown into a health and social hazard. Beneath the guise of social acceptance, we see alcohol being responsible for a variety of health and social problems. What begins as casual drinking can soon become a catalyst for seriously harmful behavior such as alcohol abuse, drug use, addiction, and more.

Nowadays, the youth are continuously exposed to alcohol use—especially binge drinking—on TV. This has indeed normalized alcoholism; so much so, people have started to take up drinking at a very young age. Drinking on TV shows, movies, and advertisements has increased social acceptance and a craving for alcohol.

In a report released a decade ago by WHO, alcohol abuse was blamed for around 3.3 million deaths worldwide. In the United States, the misuse of alcohol is the third leading cause of death.1

The economic cost of moderate to heavy drinking is considerable. The loss of productivity due to excessive drinking costs the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars. More than half of the alcohol users in the US binge drink, and nearly 20% of all alcohol users report drinking heavily.1

Apart from health issues, alcohol use can have serious social repercussions. Casual drinking and occasional binge drinking can be detrimental in the long run. Binge drinking can affect social behavior, leading to aggressive behavior, involuntary self-harm, sexual misadventure, and more.


Health Risks of Regular Alcohol Use

I have spoken to many doctors about the impact of alcohol consumption on heart and overall health. Although some studies suggest that moderate drinking can be beneficial for the heart, a large majority of doctors and studies indicate that regular consumption, even in small quantities, can lead to chronic diseases and other health problems.

Here are the most common issues associated with regular alcohol consumption:

Liver: This organ plays a crucial role in metabolizing alcohol. Chronic alcohol consumption can overwhelm the liver, reducing its functional efficiency. Alcohol can also increase inflammation in the liver and cause a variety of problems, including cirrhosis, fibrosis, alcoholic hepatitis, and fatty liver disease.

Heart: Regardless of some studies’ claims, regular alcohol consumption, especially binge drinking, can affect heart health by causing hypertension, palpitations, and irregular heartbeats, among other issues. Chronic drinking also increases the risks of cardiomyopathy, stroke, and heart attack.

Cancer: According to the National Cancer Institute, researchers have found a strong correlation between alcohol consumption and various types of cancer. Alcoholic beverages are listed as human carcinogens in the Report on Carcinogens released by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Although only 3.5% of cancer deaths in the US are related to alcohol, there is a clear pattern that drinking can increase the risk of liver cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, esophageal cancer, and head and neck cancer.

Pancreas: Alcohol can cause inflammation in the pancreas leading to pancreatitis. It can also hamper the regular function of the organ, causing low production of the vital insulin hormone.

Cognitive and Mental Health: Alcohol can inhibit the production of vital neurotransmitters. It is also known to impede signaling and affect communication pathways. In the short term, drinking can affect mood, behavior, balance, coordination, and cognitive skills such as attention, memory, and clear thinking. Regular alcohol consumption is associated with anxiety and depression.

Digestive System: Regular alcohol use can affect the delicate balance of the gut microbiome. It is known to irritate the GI tract lining, increasing the risk of gastritis and peptic ulcers. Drinking can also lead to malnutrition due to poor absorption of essential nutrients from the intestines.

Immune System: Even a single instance of binge drinking can impair the body’s immune response for the next day or two. Chronic alcohol consumption can affect immune functions, making the body vulnerable to infections and increasing the risks of tuberculosis, pneumonia, etc.

Why Mushroom Are A Better Choice Than Alcohol

What motivates people to choose alcohol? Is it a lack of options, habitual behavior, or some sociocultural influence? Individuals indulge in alcohol for various reasons. Social drinking, in part, constitutes a cultural phenomenon, aiding in bonding and relaxation within social settings.

Moreover, alcohol consumption serves as a coping mechanism for stress and emotional struggles, offering an escape from reality and providing a minor mood uplift. Surprisingly, many haven’t explored a superior alternative—one that offers the same social and mood benefits as alcohol without its drawbacks.

If you seek a ‘feel-good’ experience in a ‘relaxed’ setting with friends, look no further than mushrooms. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding magic mushrooms and unnecessary state restrictions hinder their widespread recreational use.

Do people prefer alcohol because it’s less addictive and hazardous than psilocybin mushrooms? Not necessarily. According to a 2017 study, consuming hallucinogenic mushrooms is safer than binge drinking on New Year’s Eve and waking up on National Hangover Day with a pounding headache.

Researchers examined various recreational drugs and substances, finding that only 0.2% of psilocybin mushroom users required emergency assistance—significantly lower than those seeking help after heavy drinking.

Conducted in 50 countries with 120,000 participants, the survey labeled psilocybin mushrooms one of the safest drugs globally. A researcher highlighted the distinctive qualities of magic mushrooms, emphasizing their difficulty to abuse, non-addictive nature, lack of internal damage, and the profound positive impact on the body and mind when used responsibly.


Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Mycologist Paul Stamets urges individuals to refrain from using childish slang when referring to psilocybin mushrooms.

But, we feel, that if terms like ‘shrooms,’ ‘mushies,’ ‘tweezes,’ ‘magic mushrooms,’ and ‘pizza toppings’ make the younger generation favor mushrooms over alcohol, then why not embrace such names?

Paul contends that psilocybin mushrooms transcend mere party or recreational drugs. Indeed, researchers have begun unraveling the secrets of psychedelic mushrooms and have discovered numerous health benefits.

Experts argue that it’s time to seriously consider the non-addictive, life-changing properties of psilocybin mushrooms.

Here are some potential health benefits of magic mushrooms:

Anxiety and Depression

We’ve all faced situations triggering anxiety and stress. Social phobia and anxiety are highly prevalent in society. Researchers have identified psilocybin mushrooms as an effective solution for treating anxiety and depression.

Upon ingestion, psilocybin converts into psilocin, with a particular affinity for serotonin receptor 2A. By regulating serotonin activities, magic mushrooms induce mood and emotional changes.

Studies also show that a single dose can have lasting effects for several months.2  In a previous John Hopkins Medicine study, psilocybin treatment effectively relieved major depression for a short period, around a month.3 In a recent study, researchers at John Hopkins found that psilocybin treatment, supported by psychotherapy, can alleviate depression for up to a year in some patients.4

Smoking, Alcoholism, and Other Addictions

Most recreational drugs are addictive, but not magic mushrooms. Psilocybin mushrooms are under study for their therapeutic potential in treating various addictions.

According to a scientific report, the use of psilocybin has resulted in a reduced risk of opioid use disorder.5 In a John Hopkins University study, psilocybin treatment reduced smoking dependence for up to 12 months.6

Researchers at the university believe the treatment can be equally effective against alcohol and cocaine addiction. In another study, psilocybin therapy effectively reduced both normal and heavy drinking.7

Cancer-related Psychological Distress

Individuals undergoing cancer treatment or suffering from advanced stages of cancer experience severe stress and pain. Studies show that psilocybin therapy may relieve anxiety and depression in some cancer patients.8

In a 2016 study, a single dose of the psychedelic substance from mushrooms helped reduce anxiety and depression, improving the quality of life in patients with life-threatening cancer.9

Cluster Headaches

Choosing magic mushrooms means you’ll never celebrate National Hangover Day again. Approved treatments for cluster headaches have offered limited relief.

Some self-reported results suggest that microdosing psilocybin mushrooms provides relief from the debilitating effects of cluster headaches.10

In a study of nearly 500 people suffering from cluster headaches, psychedelics proved more effective than existing treatment options.11

In a pilot study, people suffering from migraines were given psilocybin under medical supervision. The group that received psilocybin reported a 50% decrease in headache frequency compared to the placebo group.12

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

The psychological effects of psilocybin are under scrutiny in numerous studies. The results have been encouraging, with increasing evidence of potential benefits in treating various mental health conditions.

Clinical studies and empirical evidence through surveys show a significant reduction in OCD symptoms in individuals taking psilocybin mushrooms. A survey of 174 people with OCD revealed that those who took psychedelics reported the highest reduction in acute symptoms.13

According to a report, a single dose of psilocybin shows marked improvement in treatment-resistant Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. In addition to long-term improvement in OCD symptoms, psilocybin users experienced enhancements in quality of life, work performance, and social and emotional function.14

Final Thoughts

The New Year’s Eve is indeed a time to celebrate. It’s a celebration of your achievements and a collective embrace of hope and renewal. It’s a joyous occasion to celebrate personal resilience and the collective human spirit.

This New Year’s Eve, when the clock strikes midnight, it’s time to press the symbolic reset button. Embark on a new path that leads to happiness and better health.


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