The controversial videotape of Miley Cyrus purportedly doing a bong hit with a psychedelic herb is putting a dent in her image as a teen idol and could potentially derail her career if she continues using drugs, experts tell PopEater. In this latest scandal involving the Disney star, Cyrus is seen in a video obtained by TMZ taking hits from a bong, which was reportedly filled with a natural herb called salvia, sources told the website. Possession of salvia, which has psychedelic qualities when smoked, is currently legal in California.
“She needs someone to show her some tough love right now,” Calvina Fay, executive director of Drug Free America Foundation, Inc., tells PopEater. “She is going down a destructive road and needs to change her ways.”
Not only that, says Fay, “she is sending a bad message about using a mind-altering drug to get high. She is a teen idol who is popular, did something that is getting lots of media coverage and appears to have a glamorous life.”
But the effects of Salvia or any other drug are far from glamorous, says Fay. In the video, which was reportedly taken at Cyrus’s Los Angeles area home five days after she turned 18, “she is seen laughing and appears to be having a good time, which gives the impression that salvia isn’t harmful – when it is,” she says.
A Dangerous High
Salvia is known to provide a brief-but-extreme hallucinatory experience when smoked. “Salvia a very powerful, mind-altering drug that makes you do very weird, sometimes psychotic things,” says Fay. “I saw a video on YouTube of a kid using it who started barking like a dog, but wasn’t making any noise. That is not normal behavior, by any means. Salvia clearly alters the brain. We don’t know the long-term effects of this drug because we don’t have enough research on it yet. “
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration lists salvia as “a drug of concern.” According to the DEA’s website, “due to salvia’s hallucinogenic effects, there is a substantial risk of injury or death as a result of impaired judgment due to disruptions of sensory and cognitive functions.”
Scientific American Magazine says that the DEA is currently “looking into the drug” to determine if it should be considered “on par” with LSD and heroin.
Salvia has other harmful effects, says Fay. “Salvia gives you a short, but very intense high, leaving many people wanting to do it again and again because the high doesn’t last long. The more you use salvia or any drug, the more potential there is for harm.”
A Good Role Model?
This isn’t the first time the ‘Hannah Montana’ star has raised eyebrows in the past year or so. Cyrus has come under fire for underage drinking, for provocative outfits she’s worn on stage, for her racy video for her hit song, ‘Can’t Be Tamed,’ and for the leaked video of the then 16-year-old star giving her 44-year-old ‘Last Song’ director Adam Shankman – who is openly gay — a graphic lap dance after dirty dancing with partygoers at a wrap party for the movie.
“So often young celebrities say they’re not role models – or don’t want to be,” Tina Wells, author of the ‘Mackenzie Blue’ series for tween girls and CEO of Buzz Marketing Group, tells PopEater. “But if you make your millions off of teen and tween fans and their parents, then you have a responsibility. I’m sorry – you can’t take their money and not own responsibility for how your actions affect your fans.
“It’s clear she’s on a dangerous path, and at this point, maybe she wants to destroy what’s left of her image,” says Wells. “It would do her some good to keep her private life private for the sake of her young fans.”
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Indeed, says Fay, “Children and teens who watch this video or hear about it may think, ‘Here is someone who is a seemingly successful, intelligent person who is using this. How harmful could it be if she’s using it?’ But children and teens don’t see the downsides to using this drug – or any drug. There is not a whole lot of research on this drug. What we do know is that it causes hallucinations and can cause very psychotic behavior.”
But we don’t know its long-term effects, she says, adding that it took years of research to learn that ecstasy can cause the early onset of diseases like Parkinson’s Disease. “Are we going to learn something like that about this drug?” Fay asks. “We don’t know right now. This isn’t something people should be messing around with because it clearly alters the brain.”
Fay isn’t sure how much this video is going to affect Miley’s career. “If you’d asked me that twenty years ago, I would have said yes,” she says. “But in today’s tolerant society, I’m not sure if it will have any effect on her image or her career unless she gets into some serious trouble. More important than whether this will affect her image or career is – what will it do to her brain and body?”
A Private Party Turned Public
One of the singer’s friends shot the video of her doing the bong hit, according to TMZ, which reported that a source said someone may have stolen or copied the video from that person’s camera. The video begins with Cyrus taking a hit from the large bong as the song ‘Comedown’ by ’90s rock band Bush plays in the background. After a few moments, she comes up for air and immediately begins to feel the effects of the drug. Soon, she’s seeing things that aren’t there, including her ex-boyfriend Liam Hemsworth.
“Oh, I’m not gonna lose it now … I’m going,” she says. “Having a little bit of a bad trip! Is that a f**king Liam lookalike or what the hell is that? Is that my boyfriend?”
She then points to her head and asks a friend, “Is it me tripping? Is it me tripping?”
The video closes with a stream of incoherent babbling and grunting from Cyrus and her friend telling her that she is “going to s**t a brick when you see this.”
Does She or Doesn’t She?
In June, Cyrus told Ryan Seacrest on his KISS FM radio show that she doesn’t when people assume that she uses drugs and alcohol. “If I’m ever seen out dancing at a club having fun, I don’t want people to immediately go, ‘Oh, she’s on drugs, she’s drunk,” she told Seacrest. “I’m never going to be that person. As long as I steer clear of that and keep that mind frame, I think I’ll be cool.”
“I’m not gonna be like, ‘I’ll never have a drink in my entire life,’ because that’s probably going to be a lie. There’s a right way to do so — everything is good in small portions.”
She said that family friend Bret Michaels inspired her to stay away from a partying lifestyle. “Having him in my life and him telling me some of stories and some of the dumb crap that happens,” she told Seacrest. “He just makes me never want to do that stuff.”
Michael’s rep declined to comment. Reps for Disney and Miley did not return calls by press time.
Cyrus’ father admitted in a statement on Friday that he had “no idea” that his daughter was experimenting. “Just saw this stuff for the first time myself. I’m so sad,” he wrote on Twitter. “There is much beyond my control right now.”