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One in Ten British Students Admit to Taking Salvia: the Legal Drug

Update Date: Nov 05, 2012 05:51 AM EST

Salvia, a herbal drug which is legal and commonly available in many countries, causes powerful hallucinations and has been linked to psychotic episodes. According to a new survey, the drug has been tried by about one in ten UK university students.

In British universities, apparently, one in four students admitted to trying drugs that are legally available, and of them, 39 percent said they had experimented with salvia, one of the most powerful hallucinogenic herbs, according to a report in The Telegraph.

The drug, which is banned in many European countries, derives from a Mexican plant and was traditionally used by shamans to alter their states of consciousness.

The drug, which is often marketed as "herbal ecstasy", is banned in many European countries. It is easily available online and can be bought in high concentrations.

"So-called legal highs are not a safer alternative to illegal drugs. People who take salvia have experiences that can vary from fairly mild to strong with hallucinations. At higher doses users can experience dramatic time distortion, vivid imagery and scary hallucinations. As with all legal highs and illegal substances, the risks increase if you combine them with alcohol, or other drugs," Chris Hudson, a spokesman for the government drug education service FRANK, said about the results.

According to FRANK, the physical consequences of taking the drug is the harm inflicted upon oneself under the influence of the drugs.

Under the influence of salvia, one may be left unable to control their physical movements and speech. There are plenty of users who have uploaded their videos of taking the drug on YouTube.

Apart from salvia, nitrous oxide (or 'laughing gas') and smoking blends such as "Spice" and "Black Mamba", which are pharmacologically similar to cannabis, seem to be following closely in the popularity among students in Britain, at 58 percent and 27 percent respectively.

Overall, 54 percent of the survey participants admitted to trying illegal drugs, of whom, one in four said they had taken mephedrone. Topping the list of illegal drugs was cannabis, with 98 percent students admitting to its use, followed by ecstasy and cocaine.

"I am very concerned about the use and misuse of Salvia divinorum because it contains an active ingredient that can trigger hallucinations," professor Fabrizio Schifano, an expert in drug addiction based at the University of Hertfordshire, told The Telegraph in 2010.

"For some vulnerable individuals, this may mean the onset of a psychotic episode," Schifano added.

The University Drug Culture Survey was carried out by student research company The Beans Group.

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