Medically Reviewed

Is Salvia Dangerous? Salvia Side Effects, Withdrawal & Addiction Overview

Salvia divinorum, commonly known as salvia, is an herb of the mint family sometimes used recreationally for its hallucinogenic effects.1

Salvia is commonly included in discussions about a broader hallucinogen grouping of drugs, however because of some distinctions in its mechanism of action and effects profile, it is also classified as a dissociative drug.3

The answer to whether or not salvia is physically harmful remains unclear, however using this drug can result in unpredictable and subjectively overwhelming short-term alterations in consciousness. Its potential for dependence and other long-term effects are unknown at this time.4

American Addiction Centers offers treatment for those struggling with substance abuse issues involving hallucinogens, dissociative, and a variety of other substances. Learn more about our treatment options by calling

What Is Salvia?

Salvia is a herb in the mint family known for its hallucinogenic and dissociative effects.1,3 The primary psychoactive component of salvia, salvinorin A, is a kappa opioid receptor agonist capable of eliciting powerful alterations in visual perception, thinking, mood, and behavior.1,5

Native to the Sierra Mazateca region in southern Mexico, salvia was traditionally used by the Mazatec Indians for spiritual practices, in which it is believed to induce healing properties as well as prophetic visions.6

Salvia is not currently a controlled substance and is not regulated by U.S. federal law.2 Numerous states and other countries have, however, passed laws to regulate its use.6 Neither salvia nor its active ingredient salvinorin A have approved medical use in the United States.2

Users of salvia tend to consume this substance by eating the plants’ fresh or dried leaves, extracting its juices and drinking it, or by inhaling it via smoke or vaporization.2

Long-Term Effects of Salvia

Any definitive long-term effects specific to salvia remain largely unknown.5 Although research is lacking regarding the long-term use of dissociative drugs, their use over prolonged periods of time still holds the potential to result in a substance use disorder.3

Salvia and Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Despite needing further research to explore whether salvia is an addictive drug, substance use disorders involving hallucinogenic and/or dissociative drugs are treatable.5 While there are currently no medications specifically approved to manage these types of substance use disorders, a range of behavioral therapies may be applied to help someone recover.5

There are an array of treatment options available for people suffering from substance abuse issues, including for people who struggle with the misuse of dissociative drugs.

Some of these options include drug rehabilitation centers that can be attended as an inpatient resident or on an outpatient or partial hospitalization basis. To learn more about which treatment option may be the best for your situation and particular pattern of substance misuse issues, be sure to call American Addiction Centers at . Other avenues for treatment include self-help groups as well as mental health agencies that specialize in substance abuse treatment.

Sources:

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2013, April). Drug facts- salvia.
  2. S. Department of Justice. (2010, March 2). Drug alert watch: salvia divinorum.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015, February). What are the effects of common dissociative drugs on the brain and body?
  4. Casselman, I., Nock, C.J., Wohlmuth, H., Weatherby, R.P., Heinrich, M. (2014). From local to global– fifty years of research on salvia divinorum. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 151(2), 768-783.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020, August 20). Commonly used drugs charts.
  6. S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. (2017). Drugs of abuse.
  7. Gonzalez, D., Riba, J., Bouso, J.C., Gomez-Jarabo, G., Barbanoj, M. (2006). Pattern of use and subjective effects of Salvia divinorum among recreational users. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 85(2), 157-162.
  8. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Last Updated on Oct 7, 2022
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