Salvia divinorum, commonly known as Salvia, is a psychoactive herb that produces brief but extremely intense hallucinations when used, generally via smoking. For centuries, indigenous groups throughout the United States have used salvia for religious purposes, but in the past few decades, an increasing number of people have begun using it recreationally. Dozens of videos of people under salvia’s effects have appeared on social media sites like YouTube. Common slang terms for salvia include “sally-d,” “magic mint” and “diviner’s sage.”
Salvia is commonly abused in the form of what looks like chopped-up green leaves, but can also be abused in a liquid concentrate form. Users can chew, smoke and vaporize the plant. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), it is unclear if salvia use leads to any form of dependence or addiction.
The drug’s legal status is also complex as there are many states that have scheduled salvia as an illegal drug and others that have decriminalized the drug. Even while it has been reported that the drug has a long history of use for spiritual purposes and is also used to treat diseases including Alzheimer’s and post-traumatic stress disorder, it is not correct to dismiss salvia as a relatively harmless, non-addictive substance.
Symptoms of Salvia abuse
Salvia dramatically and quickly alters perception, especially for someone who’s exposed to it without their full awareness or consent. Salvia trips can involve the loss of consciousness and memory. Although salvia’s effects last only for a short while, it’s enough time to cause a person under the drug’s effects to lose contact with reality or to roll around on the floor giggling, or jump through a window to escape a perceived danger.
Some of the common symptoms of salvia abuse include:
- Extreme mood shifts, often including intense sensations of fear and panic
- Loss of memory and coordination
- Psychotic states
- A compulsion to use salvia
- An inability to stop using salvia, or believing that participating in life fully requires using salvia
- Participating in dangerous behavior while under salvia’s effects
- Experiencing psychological damage, including psychosis, from repeated use of salvia along with other illicit substances
- Changes in vision