Salvia is a growing drug of concern from the perspective of medical professionals and policymakers. Salvia drug abuse appears to be on the rise, particularly among younger people. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), salvia comes from an herb that’s part of the mint family. Though the salvia plant is native to Mexico, it can be grown in other places as well.
Currently, salvia is not a controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Even so, many states are working on their own regulatory guidelines for salvia. Some of the states making changes to the controlled substance status of salvia include Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia.
With salvia drug abuse, several potential side effects can occur. These can include physical side effects related to the nervous system and cardiovascular system. Dependence can occur as well, both physically and psychologically. In addition, salvia drug abuse can cause changes in mood and thinking, creating issues such as paranoia and anxiety.
What Is Salvia?
What is salvia? Salvia divinorum is the full name for salvia, and street names include Sally-D and Magic Mint. Part of the mint family, salvia has been used for centuries by the Mazatec Indians. Salvia’s primary active component is salvinorin A, which is a psychoactive substance. When someone uses salvia, it causes hallucinations, visual disturbances and dizziness.
Specific effects of salvia include:
- Seeing bright colors and lights
- Seeing shapes
- Distortions in body and object movement
- Uncontrollable laughing
- Loss of coordination
- Slurred speech
According to the DEA, the effects of salvia are similar to other hallucinogenic drugs.
Someone can use salvia by chewing the leaves and allowing the juices to absorb through the mouth. The effects of salvia begin quickly—typically within five to 10 minutes.
The effects can also be achieved by smoking dried salvia leaves. The most common and effective way to use salvia is to smoke an extract from fresh salvia leaves with a water bong, pipe or vaporizer pen. The dried leaves tend to be much less effective than fresh leaves.
Is Salvia Addictive?
Is salvia addiction possible? Salvia isn’t considered addictive in the way some other substances are, such as opioids. However, there is still potential for psychological and physical dependence. Someone may be addicted to the experience of using salvia without having a chemical dependence. This is the case with other hallucinogens as well.
For example, if someone regularly engages in salvia misuse in social situations, they may start to feel like they can’t function without it. Regular salvia misuse can also lead to physical dependence symptoms. There isn’t extensive research available on the effects of salvia currently, so researchers are unsure about the possible risks of long-term salvia misuse.
Signs of Salvia Abuse
Some of the signs of salvia abuse include hallucinations, confusion and loss of coordination. Any time someone continues to use salvia in spite of negative outcomes, it can be considered a sign of abuse as well.
Parents should be aware of possible signs of salvia abuse in particular. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Report, an estimated 1.8 million people aged 12 and older used salvia in their lifetime. Use was more common among young adults aged 18 to 25 than older adults. The Monitoring the Future survey reports show that 1.4% of eighth-graders said they’d used salvia in the past year, and 2.5% of 10th-graders reported use.
Finding Treatment for Salvia Addiction
If you’re struggling with salvia misuse or you believe your child is, The Recovery Village Columbus is here to help. Our admissions team can talk to you about our salvia abuse treatment programs and help you find the best option for your needs. Contact us and begin the path to recovery today.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Salvia.” April 9, 2019. Accessed April 26, 2019.
Holland, Kimberly. “What Is Salvia Divinorum?” Healthline. January 10, 2018. Accessed April 26, 2019.
Main, Douglas. “Getting High on Salvia, For Science.” Newsweek. March 1, 2015. Accessed April 26, 2019.
Davis, Kathleen. “Salvia: What are the effects?” Medical News Today. January 16, 2019. Accessed April 26, 2019.
Drug Enforcement Administration. “Salvia Divinorum and Salvinorin A.” October 2013. Accessed April 26, 2019.