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What are Salvia Side Effects, Legality and More

Last Updated: October 25, 2022

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Salvia is a plant in the mint family native to Mexico with hallucinogenic properties. While it is not federally illegal, many states have begun to restrict salvia’s availability.

What Is Salvia?

Salvia, or Salvia divinorum, is a native Mexican hallucinogenic plant in the mint family. While it is not a controlled medication federally under the Controlled Substances Act, some states restrict it. National surveys do not specifically ask about salvia use, and usage is likely significantly underreported. It is thought that salvia is abused primarily by teenagers and young adults who obtain the substance from “head shops” or online. 

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How Is Salvia Used?

Salvia can be ingested differently. For example, leaves can be dried and smoked or brewed into tea. Users can chew the fresh leaves. Salvia can also be made into a liquid extract that is then vaped or placed under the tongue. 

The Salvia High

When taken recreationally, a component of salvia called Salvinorin A activates kappa-opioid receptors. These receptors are also activated when opioids are taken and are responsible for dissociative effects with both substances. Salvia use can result in hallucinations, visual disturbances and dizziness. People who use salvia report a high feeling similar to other hallucinogens, like mescaline or LSD. 

How Long Does a Salvia High Last?

Widespread salvia use is relatively new, and, as a result, there is limited information on the duration of its high, which can be variable. How long a salvia high affects you depends on how it is ingested and at what dose. For example, smoking salvia typically lasts 15–20 minutes, while placing drops under the tongue can last for up to two hours.  

Is Salvia Dangerous?

Yes, using salvia can be dangerous. Some users experience fear and panic, paranoia or other hallucinations, which can make users a danger to others or themselves. Salvia can also impair judgment and alter cognitive functions, making driving unsafe and altering your ability to make safe decisions. 

Bad Salvia Trips

After using salvia, some experience a “bad trip,” a generic term for an unpleasant experience after using a psychedelic drug. Specifically, salvia can cause:

  • Body distortions 
  • Disrupted cognitive and sensory functions
  • Fear 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Impaired judgment
  • Object distortions 
  • Panic
  • Paranoia 
  • Sense of overlapping realities 
  • Uncontrollable laughter

Long-term Effects of Salvia

Studies evaluating the long-term effects of salvia are limited. However, long-term effects are suspected to be similar to LSD and other hallucinogens. These can include negative effects like depression and schizophrenia. Some even experience hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), also called an “endless trip.” This potentially permanent syndrome includes flashbacks, including recurrent visual or perceptive disturbances. 

Salvia Legality

Salvia is not federally illegal. However, there is no known medical purpose for it. There are many states where it remains legal, including:

  • Washington
  • Colorado 
  • Oregon
  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • Utah
  • New Mexico
  • Arizona
  • South Carolina
  • West Virginia
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
  • New Hampshire
  • Alaska 

Salvia is decriminalized in:

  • Tennessee
  • Wisconsin 

Salvia is age-restricted in:

  • California 
  • Maine
  • Maryland 

Salvia is illegal in:

  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia
  • North Carolina
  • Florida
  • Hawaii 
  • Georgia
  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Vermont
  • Texas
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Wyoming 
  • Nebraska
  • Louisiana
  • Florida 
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky 

Is Salvia Addictive?

Salvia is not a controlled medication like other addictive substances. However, there is potential for psychological and physical dependence. Signs of addiction include a combination of:

  • Changes in appetite, sleep patterns, physical appearance
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, school or home
  • Sudden change in friends, hangouts or hobbies
  • Sudden mood swings, irritability, spaced-out or angry outbursts

If you or someone you love is addicted to salvia, The Recovery Village Columbus in Ohio can help. Our trained medical professionals can provide you with the support you need to regain control of your life.

While there is no specific treatment for salvia addiction, we offer comprehensive care at our Joint Commission-accredited facility with treatment options ranging from inpatient and outpatient care to aftercare. Contact us today!