Salvia is an herb that is found in the mint family in parts of southern Mexico. The active ingredient in salvia that changes the chemistry in the brain is salvinorin A. The drug causes hallucinations that can last about 30 minutes or less, and are quite frightening. Per federal law in the United States, the drug is not illegal. However, some states have passed state laws to regulate the use of salvia. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, salvia is listed as a drug of concern because of the effects it creates. The way the drug is used is the leaves of the plant can be chewed, or turned into a tea and drank. Dried leaves can also be smoked and inhaled with a cigarette, water pipe, or through a vaporizer. When the drug is used recreationally, it is inhaled through a pipe, cigarette, or a vaporizer. The leaves can also be chewed similar to tobacco, and the body absorbs the psychoactive ingredients. Per the National Institute on Drug Abuse, around 0.7% of 12th graders in the US have used salvia in 2019. Like any other drug, there are similar reasons why someone chooses to use it. It can often be out of curiosity, for relaxation, getting high, or for spiritual effects. However, in some states the drug is classified as a Schedule I drug, which means it cannot be sold. Hallucinogens are dangerous drugs and do become addictive. Drug rehabilitation programs within the United States can help anyone abusing these types of drugs.
The primary ingredient in salvia changes the way the nerve cells communicate in the brain. Salvia affects the signaling process of the neurons in the brain sending messages to one another. Salvinorin A also attaches itself to parts of the nerve cells called kappa opioid receptors, which are different from the ones involved with opioids. The effects felt by salvia can happen in under one minute and last for about half an hour. Some of the initial short-term effects include intense hallucinations, distorted senses, feelings of detachment, mood swings, and intense sweating. Some people have reported they have lost contact with reality and were unable to differentiate between what was real, and what wasn't.
Salvia can become addictive like any other type of hallucinogenic drug. The user becomes addicted to the way the drug makes them feel and distorts his or her reality. However, there has not been much work published about the addictive nature of this drug. There has been concern about highly concentrated forms of salvia, which of course intensify the effects. It has been noted that the hallucinogenic effects of Salvia Divinorum are similar to that of LSD. Some users have claimed to have a mystical or spiritual experience when taking the drug. The drug is a popular recreational drug among adolescents. However, the drug has been used by Mazatec Indians for many centuries, and it is believed that the plan is an incarnation of the Virgin Mary.