The Dangers of Salvia

By: Lindsey Ward Email
By: Lindsey Ward Email

February 6, 2007

Marijuana, cocaine, even house hold products; these are things you think of when teen drug use come up, but right now the popular drug is not really a drug at all, in fact, it's legal.

"I saw a car go by and I was looking at the stars, but I really thought the car was going in the stars at the beat of the music," said Zac, a college student.

This may sound like a bad dream, but it’s what Zac saw after smoking the herb Salvia for the first time at a friend's party.

“A guy knew what would happen when I smoked it, so he tried to scare me, he said snakes were crawling on my legs and I was running around my house,” Zac said.

He added he was so scared; it was an experience he will never forget.

So what is it about salvia that's so frightening?

“You feel dissociated, you come away from you body. I smoked it and felt like I was going into the sky and looking down on my body,” explained Zac.

To find out more on Salvia and its affects on users, we talked to Doctor Chris Holstege from UVa Medical Center who has researched this emerging drug. Although there isn't much research on the herb as a drug, he said the best way to describe the affects of Salvia is to compare user's experiences.

“It’s similar somewhat to mushrooms or magic mushrooms, it’s similar somewhat to an LSD type high to some extent,” said Dr. Holstege.

But whatever user's feel, the bottom line is it can be dangerous.

“If you're at a party and you try to do Salvia and then drive your car, your perception's altered, there's no doubt on that. Falling from balconies, walking in front of cars, people do silly things when they're hallucinating,” Dr. Holstege said.

Whether its smoked like marijuana, or chewed like tobacco he warns, parents may never find out if their child is using it, because it doesn't show-up on drug screens. In fact, it's perfectly legal and the only way a parent can tell is closely monitoring their child’s activity.

If some one wants it, it out there and easy to get. With a credit card and a click of the mouse your child could have it delivered to your front door.

Even though its easily accessible Zac said in the end, it’s just not worth it.

“I don't want to do it anymore. I don't like the way it makes me feel. It makes you feel really weird,” said Zac

We couldn't find a store around Charlottesville that sold Salvia, but there is a tobacco store on the Corner and the owner said he does get a lot of requests for the herb.

If you think your child may have a drug problem, Dr. Holstege advises parents to consult with the child's pediatrician first.

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