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J Psychopharmacol. 2015 Apr;29(4):426-35. doi: 10.1177/0269881115570081. Epub 2015 Feb 17.

The subjective experience of acute, experimentally-induced Salvia divinorum inebriation.

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Medical Informatics, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, CT, USA Department of Medical Informatics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA
Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Goodwill Wellness Center, San Jose, CA, USA.
Sofia University, Palo Alto, CA, USA.


This study examined the overall psychological effects of inebriation facilitated by the naturally-occurring plant hallucinogen Salvia divinorum using a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Thirty healthy individuals self-administered Salvia divinorum via combustion and inhalation in a quiet, comfortable research setting. Experimental sessions, post-session interviews, and 8-week follow-up meetings were audio recorded and transcribed to provide the primary qualitative material analyzed here. Additionally, post-session responses to the Hallucinogen Rating Scale provided a quantitative groundwork for mixed-methods discussion. Qualitative data underwent thematic content analysis, being coded independently by three researchers before being collaboratively integrated to provide the final results. Three main themes and 10 subthemes of acute intoxication emerged, encompassing the qualities of the experience, perceptual alterations, and cognitive-affective shifts. The experience was described as having rapid onset and being intense and unique. Participants reported marked changes in auditory, visual, and interoceptive sensory input; losing normal awareness of themselves and their surroundings; and an assortment of delusional phenomena. Additionally, the abuse potential of Salvia divinorum was examined post hoc. These findings are discussed in light of previous research, and provide an initial framework for greater understanding of the subjective effects of Salvia divinorum, an emerging drug of abuse.


Consciousness; Salvia divinorum; hallucinogens; kappa; neuropharmacology; opioid; pharmacology; psychedelics; qualitative research; receptors; salvinorin A

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