One in ten university students in the UK have admitted to having tried the legal high Salvia Divinorum, in a new survey conducted by a student research group called The Beans Company.
The drug causes powerful hallucinations and is banned in many European countries.
The University Drug Culture Survey interviewed over 1,900 UK university students and asked them about the levels of illegal drug-taking at their institution, as well as asking them to identify which drugs they had tried.
The survey revealed that 54% of those asked had experimented with illegal drugs. Of those the most common by far was cannabis, tried by 98% of those who had experimented with drugs. Ecstasy was second, tried by 39%, and cocaine third, tried by 24%.
The survey also revealed interesting statistics about when students first try drugs. The vast majority of those who had used illegal drugs first experimented before university, 81% of whom tried drugs for the first time between the ages of 15 and 19.
Legal highs were not as widely used or sampled. The survey revealed that only 25% of respondents had tried legal highs, but of those 39% had tried salvia.
Salvia Divinorum is shrouded in controversy after the shocking suicide death of American teenager Brett Chidester in 2006. Chidester was high on salvia when he locked himself in a tent in his parents' garage and lit a charcoal grill, asphyxiating himself on the carbon monoxide fumes.
Chris Hudson is a spokesman for government drug education service, FRANK.
"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," he told The Telegraph.
"As with all legal highs and illegal substances, the risks increase if you combine them with alcohol, or other drugs," he added.
Salvia: the dangerous legal drug taken by 'one-in-ten students' (The Telegraph)