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"Quite a Profoundly Strange Experience": An Analysis of the Experiences of Salvia divinorum Users

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Salvia divnorum (an intense hallucinogen) is currently illegal in New Zealand under the 2014 Psychoactive Substances Amendment Act. Despite this, there is a scarcity of research surrounding Salvia divinorum and its effects in a New Zealand context. To explore the experiences of Salvia divinorum users, an anonymous questionnaire was advertised through flyers placed in locations where young adults congregate. A total of 393 people took part in the online questionnaire in 2010-2011, while salvia was legally available in New Zealand; 167 respondents had used salvia. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the resulting open-ended questionnaire data and three key themes were identified: the effects of salvia; the importance of set and setting; salvia use and pleasure/not-pleasure. Recreational use of salvia was situated within a broader drug landscape, with participants being drug experienced and “drug wise” (Measham, Aldridge, and Parker 2001). Use of salvia also appeared to be intermittent, with its use referred to as a novel experience. Thus, the recent criminalization of salvia under the 2014 Act may see a significant decline in use as experienced drug users look elsewhere for novel drug experiences.

Hutton, F., Kivell, B., & Boyle, O. (2016). “Quite a Profoundly Strange Experience”: An Analysis of the Experiences of Salvia divinorum Users. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 1-8.

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