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What are the Effects of Salvia?

Salvia divinorum is a plant in the mint family, which has leaves similar in shape to mint plants, but it interacts much differently in humans. This is a naturally occurring hallucinogenic herb, and it has been used in Mexico by the Mazatec Indians in the Sierra Mazateca region for centuries. The drug was first tried by US researchers in 1962, and the compound responsible for the euphoria and perception changes was identified in the 1990s.

This plant-based drug is commonly ingested in several ways. Smoking it like a cigarette or in a bong; chewing fresh or dried salvia; inhaling the substance; brewing it into a tea; or mixing it into a drink are all methods people use to ingest salvia.
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What Are The Effects of Salvia

  • Sweating
  • Skin Flushing
  • Fatigue
  • Motion Sickness
  • Hallucinations
  • Perception Change
  • Euphoria
  • loss of Contact with Reality
  • Loss of Time
  • Feeling Uneasy
  • Feelings of Detachment
  • Depression
  • Psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Damage to Organ Systems
  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke

Although salvia is not considered addictive, people who struggle with substance abuse, polydrug abuse, or co-occurring disorders are more likely to use this drug or take too much of it. Even a small dose of a powerful hallucinogen like salvia can trigger mental health issues. Consistent use can lead to long-term physical problems.
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Here are some of the most common short-term and long-term effects of salvia abuse.

1. Mental Effects

When a person ingests salvia, they typically hope to induce a high, hallucinations, or perception changes. Hallucinations include changes in how sounds, light, and color are processed; the sensation of flying through space or time; a sense of spinning or floating; feeling as though the body is heavier or lighter; or feeling as if one is floating outside their body. Sometimes, the person can experience other visual or auditory hallucinations, like patterns or shapes, which typically end when attention is drawn elsewhere. However, the high from salvia can last for 6-8 hours.

Hallucinations can be dangerous, especially if the individual can no longer tell the difference between reality and fantasy. If the individual becomes paranoid, anxious, scared, or angry, they may become aggressive and physically harmful toward themselves or others. This can turn into drug-induced psychosis, and the individual may need to be hospitalized in order to calm down and stabilize.

If the person ingesting salvia does so regularly or has a preexisting mental health problem, taking the drug can lead to long-term depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, “flashback” hallucinations, and even psychosis that persists.

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2. Side Effects

Although some people ingest salvia specifically for hallucinations and euphoria, the drug is likely to have some side effects that the person abusing the drug does not expect or intend. These side effects include:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating or body temperature changes
  • Confusion
  • Delirium
  • Skin or face flushing
  • Fatigue

Other side effects that occur during the high can include a loss of contact with reality or time, feeling uneasy or anxious, motion sickness, and feelings of detachment.

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3. Adverse Physical Effects

Salvia has sometimes led to such a high level of dissociation that individuals may not feel pain from harming themselves, either intentionally or on purpose. During salvia intoxication, some people have also reported that they could not move one side of their body. Physical harm can lead to broken bones, infections, and hospitalization for more serious problems like blood loss.

Additionally, if a person experiences a “bad trip” on salvia, they could experience such a high level of anxiety or paranoia that they could cause damage to their cardiovascular system. Heart attack, stroke, tachycardia, elevated blood pressure, and rapid breathing or gasping can all cause lasting damage to the body.
Salvia can cause damage to the lungs, stomach lining, liver, and kidneys, depending on how it is ingested.

4. Long-Term Effects

Salvia abuse can lead to changes in the structure of the brain that can make mental health issues, like psychosis, depression, or anxiety, permanent. Damage to other organ systems, like the lungs, liver, and kidneys, may also become permanent.

Get Help

Although salvia divinorum is not considered addictive, it can cause short-term and long-term damage to the brain and body, especially with repeated use. A comprehensive addiction treatment program can address issues of polydrug abuse as well as co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.

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