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Alcohol, other drug use linked to salvia use among incoming U.S. college students

Salvia divinorum (salvia) is an herb with hallucinogenic effects; it can be smoked in a similar manner to marijuana. The legality of salvia use varies by state. Prior research has documented salvia use rates are highest among young adults. A new study examined prevalence and correlates of past-two-week salvia use among a national sample of incoming first-year college students in the U.S. Participants (n = 7,314) were incoming students at 144 institutions of higher learning who completed an online substance use educational course and were randomly selected to receive a version of the course baseline survey with salvia questions. The sample was 42.4% male and 69.6% White. Survey measures included age at first drink, past-two-week use of alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, salvia, and other drugs, past-month use of salvia under the influence of marijuana and alcohol, and sociodemographic characteristics. Survey responses were analyzed using bivariate chi-square analyses, in which respondents who reported using salvia in the past two weeks were compared to those who did not. Multivariate logistic regressions were also performed in order to identify significant substance use predictors of salvia use. Nearly 30% of the sample reported past-two-week alcohol use, compared to 3% who reported marijuana use and 3.5% (n = 256) who reported salvia use. Results of the chi-square analysis indicated students who reported salvia use were more likely to report being male (p ≤ 0.001), being White (p = 0.012), having an absent father (p ≤ 0.001), initiating alcohol use before age 16 (p = 0.005), and using alcohol, marijuana, or cigarettes in the past two weeks (all ps ≤ 0.001), compared to students who abstained from salvia use. Among salvia users, 34.3% (n = 88) reported using salvia under the influence of marijuana in the past month. Results of the multivariate logistic regression indicated being male (p ≤ 0.001), being White (p = 0.05), having an absent father p = 0.019), and using alcohol in the past two weeks (p ≤ 0.001) significantly predicted past-two-week salvia use.

Take away: In this national sample of incoming college students, 3.5% reported using salvia in the past two weeks. Alcohol use significantly predicted salvia use and co-use of marijuana and salvia was common.

 Croff, J.M. & DeJong, W. (2018). Predictors of salvia divinorum use among a national sample of entering first-year U.S. college students. International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research [published online ahead of print June 13, 2018] doi: 10.7895/ijadr.248

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