Salvia, or salvia divinorum, is not currently scheduled as a controlled substance by the DEA. According to CESAR, “There are efforts to criminalize salvia and its active ingredients and classify them as Schedule I controlled substances;” however, Australia is currently the only country to have done so.
Many individuals take this to mean that the use of salvia is safe and that the drug does not have any harmful side effects. This belief is also widely held because the substance is found naturally as a plant that grows in Mexico. Unfortunately, salvia, like all substances that may cause intense psychological and physical effects, has its share of negative consequences. It is important to know and look out for the negative effects of salvia, especially if you are considering taking the substance yourself.
Duration and Intensity of Effects
The effects of this substance are not as well researched as those caused by other drugs or even other hallucinogens. Unlike the intoxication syndrome caused by peyote and psilocybin, we do not fully understand how dangerous salvia may be or even if it could be addictive. According to the NIDA for Teens, “More studies are needed to learn whether it has addictive properties,” which is why abusing the drug frequently and in the long-term is likely not a safe choice.
In addition, “there are several methods of ingesting salvia with varying durations of hallucinogenic effects” (CESAR). Sometimes, these effects may last only fifteen or thirty minutes while other times they can last longer than two hours. An individual abusing the drug for the first time (or even someone who has abused it before) may have no way of knowing exactly how long the effects will last.
Because so little is known about the full extent of salvia‘s effects, this is a problem in itself. In a few years, it may be discovered that the substance causes many more issues than we currently know of, and therefore, it is important to look out for any negative effects of the drug. However, those that are already known to have been caused by the drug’s use are listed below.
Negative Psychological Effects of Salvia
According to the DEA, “Psychic effects [of the drug] include perceptions of bright lights, vivid colors, shapes, and body movement, as well as body or object distortions.” These effects seem quite tame compared to those caused by some other hallucinogenic drugs, and they are the reason most individuals abuse salvia in the first place. However, the drug can cause negative effects on the mind that many individuals do not consider before abusing it. These may include:
Fear and Panic
Most hallucinogens have the ability to cause negative, psychological reactions, often called a “bad trip.” Salvia has been known to cause fear and panic in some individuals, and while these effects may not be as intense as those caused by other hallucinogens, they can be dangerous or even psychologically damaging for the individual to experience.
Soreness of the muscles
This is considered to be a psychological effect because there is usually no reason for it other than the individual’s experience of soreness. Because salvia does not cause muscular rigidity and tension like MDMA or PCP, this side effect may be uncomfortable and confusing at the least.
A person could go from feeling very good as a result of their salvia high to suddenly feeling scared or depressed. This is because hallucinogens are known to cause mood swings, and the individuals who abuse them often cannot see the negative feelings coming before they are upon them. Those who take salvia in order to feel euphoric or experience pleasant hallucinations could wind up feeling very poorly as a result of their intoxication.
Extremely modified perceptions
According to the NIDA, “a decreased ability to interact with one’s surroundings” can result when someone takes too much of the substance. Because the drug causes a person’s perceptions of the world around them to become extremely altered, they may feel dissociated from themselves or from reality in general and not be able to tell the difference between what’s real and what isn’t. This makes the act of driving a car or doing anything that requires presence and sharp concentration possibly very dangerous.
Problems with memory
Little is still known about how the drug affects users in the long-term. However, as stated by the NIDA, “Experiments in rodents demonstrated deleterious effects of salvinorin A on learning and memory.” Although there is currently no assurance that this may occur in humans, further research is needed before the possibility is ruled out entirely.
The psychological effects caused by the drug are the reason many people abuse it, but it can have many negative effects on the brain that users do not always plan for. In addition, salvia does affect the body as well as the mind.
Negative Physical Effects of Salvia
For the most part, the physical effects caused by salvia use are mild. However, not knowing the full extent of the drug’s effects means that it is impossible to know for sure if these results might not have long-term repercussions. Some are already problematic, from uncomfortable to dangerous, even in the short term. They include:
- Slurred speech and strange speech patterns
- Coordination problems
- Nausea and vomiting
- Decreased heart rate
When the drug is abused in very high doses, there is a possibility that it may cause loss of consciousness. Most of these effects are not extremely harmful, but they can be very unpleasant.
It is important to look for these negative side effects and to understand their potential to occur, as many individuals who abuse salvia believe it to be harmless and without any discomfort. This is untrue, and users must be aware of the possibility of experiencing unpleasant and even dangerous consequences as a result of abusing salvia. The substance is not without its share of possible adverse effects, and users and friends of those who use it should know which to look out for, especially so they can know when something might be wrong.