The Risks of Salvia Addiction and Recovery Options

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Salvia is a hallucinogenic drug. Some people feel that they have experienced a salvia addiction after using it regularly for a long period of time. The National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens says more studies are needed to learn about salvia’s possible addictiveness.

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Most hallucinogens do not have withdrawal symptoms when a person stops using them. So they may not have a physical addiction. Hallucinogens definitely affect the human brain. This can lead to a psychological addiction.

Hallucinogens can be found in plants and fungi like mushrooms. They can also be synthetically produced like LSD. Effects on the body include an elevated heart rate and increased blood pressure. The more significant effect is on the brain, and this is why the drugs are used. These drugs create a psychic effect that distorts time and space. They also create hallucinations, seeing things that are not actually real. Those who use these drugs call getting high a trip.

There is a subcategory of hallucinogens called dissociative drugs. Dissociative drugs include PCP, ketamine, and salvia. This type of drug creates visual distortions and a sense of floating, like an out of body experience. The effects of dissociative drugs can be unpredictable.

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What is Salvia?

Salvia is a plant in the mint family that grows in Oaxaca, Mexico. Salvia has green leaves that look like a mint plant. The plant grows to about three feet tall. It has hollow square stems and white flowers. It was originally used by the Mazatec Indians for religious visions.

This substance has become a recreationally used drug. Salvia is most often used by teens and young adults. That group of people often use it as an alternative to LSD or marijuana. The substance in the plant that creates hallucinations is called Salvinorin A. Salvinorin A is the strongest hallucinogen that can be found in nature.

Salvia can be chewed, smoked, or brewed into a tea to get high. It is not listed on the Controlled Substances Act. This means that it is not considered illegal by the federal government. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has salvia listed as a drug of concern because it could be abused. Many state governments have made salvia illegal within their state.

States Where Salvia is Illegal

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Salvia is legal in a few states. In some of those states, it can only be bought by someone over the age of 18. States where it is legal include:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California (must be 18 to buy)
  • Idaho
  • Maine (must be 18 to buy)
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

Street Names for Salvia

Salvia is fairly easy to get because it is legal in some places. In states where it is legal, it can be found in tobacco shops. It is also easy to buy on the internet. Salvia has quite a few street names, many of them have to do with using it for religious visions.

  • Magic mint
  • Maria pastora
  • Sally-D
  • Shepherdess’s herb
  • Diviner’s sage
  • Sage of the seers
  • Diviner’s mint
  • La Maria
  • Ska pastora
  • Hierbia Maria
  • Leaf of prophecy
  • Lady salvia
  • Purple sticky
  • The female
  • Incense special
  • Mexican mint
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The History of Salvia in the United States

Salvia is originally from Mexico. It grows in the Oaxaca region in the shade in humid climates. Salvia has been used for centuries by Mazatec shamans for religious ceremonies. It was also used as medicine for headaches and diarrhea. The shamans also used it to treat panzon de Borrego. This is a swollen belly believed to be caused by an evil sorcerer.

In 1962 two ethnopharmacologists named Hofmann and Wasson were the first researchers to collect a flowering salvia plant. The shamans in Mexico are very secretive about the plant because they consider it sacred. Salvia has now become globally known for its effects on the human brain.

Hofmann and Wasson could not identify what in the plant created the hallucinations. In 1982 a research group led by Alfredo Ortega was able to identify Salvinorin A as the substance responsible. Once this information was known people began to grow salvia. Because there is no religious connection to salvia in the United States it has quickly become a recreational use drug.

Effects of Salvia Use

There are no accepted medical uses for Salvia. Salvia can be acquired as fresh or dried leaves. Natural substances have variable levels of ingredients unlike lab-made substances that have defined amounts in them.

Because Salvia is legal in some states it has been used as a way to get a legal high. People smoke, chew, or brew the leaves as a tea to get the desired effects. The effects begin quickly, sometimes within a minute of use. The effects are short term, lasting from 15 minutes to a couple of hours. The short-term effects of salvia on the body include:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Altered visual perceptions
  • Altered body sensations
  • Mood swings
  • Intense hallucinations (merging with or becoming objects, visiting places from childhood)
  • Sweating
  • Uncontrollable laughter
  • Paranoia
  • Feelings of being detached from one’s body
  • The feeling of being in several locations at once
  • Loss of memory
  • nausea

There is not much research that has been done on salvia. It is unknown what long-term effects of using salvia might be on the human body. There are some findings that suggest salvia could create psychiatric symptoms. It is possible that there could be long term effects similar to other drugs in the same category.  Other hallucinogens can have long term effects that include:

  • Persistent psychosis- visual disturbances, disorganized thinking, paranoia, mood disturbances
  • Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD)- hallucinations, other visual disturbances like seeing halos or trails on moving objects, symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for a stroke or brain tumor

The Difference Between Salvia Abuse and Addiction

Many people use the terms abuse and addiction interchangeably. There is a slight difference. Abuse is simply using a substance; this is where addiction starts. Addiction happens when someone continues to use a substance even though there are harmful consequences.

Someone who is using salvia for the first time to get high, or has used a couple of times is abusing the drug. When someone is using salvia often because they feel like they need it has moved into addiction. Salvia does not create physical dependence that leads to withdrawal symptoms like alcohol or prescription drugs. There is the possibility to develop a psychological dependence on salvia leading to addiction.

How to Tell if Someone is Addicted to Salvia

The effects of using Salvia can be very short, sometimes only 15-30 minutes. This can make it hard to tell that someone is using. While someone is high from salvia they would exhibit some of the following behaviors:

  • Talkativeness
  • Uncontrollable laughter
  • They seem to have lost contact with reality
  • Saying they are contacting entities from other dimensions
  • Slurred speech

Again, using a substance is different from being addicted. There are not really withdrawal symptoms from salvia, but there are general signs of psychological addiction that can be observed in addicts.

  • Increased need for privacy, hiding texts or calls
  • Lack of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Difficulties in school and decline grades
  • Poor work performance
  • Social withdrawal, isolating themselves
  • Dropping old friends, adding questionable new friends
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Irritability or seems easily confused
  • Becoming obsessed with the drug
  • Using the drug to cope with problems

Why Use Hallucinogens or Dissociative Drugs Like Salvia?

Throughout history, people have used hallucinogenic plants for religious ceremonies. They also used them to induce visions or contact the spirit realm. More recently people have used drugs like salvia for recreational purposes, just to have fun. Others have used hallucinogens to relieve stress.

Who is Most Likely to Use Salvia?

Since salvia is legal and readily available in some states there is the potential for anyone to use it. The 2019 National Survey of Drug Use and Health shows that hallucinogen use increased across all age groups in 2019. The highest percentage of users was in the 18–25-year-old category. 7.2% of people in that age group used hallucinogens in 2019 totaling at 2.4 million people. The overall hallucinogen use for people over the age of 12 in 2019 was 6 million people.

Does Salvia Need a Drug Detoxification Program?

While salvia does not have dangerous physical withdrawal symptoms, if someone was using another substance with it, they may need a detox program. Opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol are all substances that can have dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Some of the severe withdrawal symptoms could include severe anxiety, psychotic reactions, and seizures.

Medication assisted treatment would be the best option if a person is using salvia and a drug with severe withdrawal symptoms. This treatment combines FDA-approved medications and behavioral therapy. The medications reduce cravings so a person can focus on changing their behavior to beat addiction.

Drug Rehab Centers and Treatment Options Available

Finishing a drug detox program is only the first step to recovery. The next step is treatment to address why someone started using. There are several types of drug rehab available to help those who want to change their lives. The best thing to do is talk to a professional to find the right option for each person.

Inpatient treatment is when someone lives at a facility full time for treatment. It is the highest level of support. They have twenty-four-hour support for the length of their stay. Most inpatient stays are for twenty-eight days but can be longer if needed.

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) may also be known as a day treatment program.  This type of program is the most intensive outpatient program.  These programs can meet five to seven days a week for several hours a day. Afterward, the patient returns home.

An Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) usually meets three to four times a week for approximately three hours at a time.  IOPs are usually group-based and can be very cost-effective.

Traditional outpatient therapy uses individual therapy sessions or group sessions. This style of treatment works best for those who have already finished a higher-level treatment program.

Our alcohol recovery program allows you to keep work and family commitments while focusing on your sobriety.

SpringBoard Recovery Offers Treatment for Salvia Addiction

At SpringBoard Recovery everyone is treated with respect; not like they are just another addict. Every person has a unique situation, and we focus on individual needs. We can help those with substance use issues and mental health disorders at the same time. Treatment options are tailored for each person.

We offer outpatient services and day treatment with recovery housing. The recovery housing can be a great option for someone traveling to Arizona for treatment. This provides a supportive community which is important for recovery. There are house rules to abide by and personal responsibilities. There is mentorship and 12-step meetings available also. This can be an excellent option for someone local who does not have enough support at home.

SpringBoard Recovery has a variety of outpatient treatment options to meet individual needs.

At SpringBoard Recovery, we accept most major insurance plans. Some insurance plans may completely cover all of the treatment you need for a full recovery. You can call and talk with one of our representatives to check what your insurance plan will pay for.

SpringBoard is serious about your success. We have achieved The Joint Commission’s National Quality Approval. This is a benchmark in the healthcare industry given to those who go above and beyond the standards. Not every rehab facility has this accolade. We are also part of the NAADAC, Association for Addiction Professionals. Helping people get the treatment they need is our priority.

Learn More About Salvia Addiction and Treatment Options

Do you need more information about salvia treatment options for you or a loved one? Do not wait any longer, we are here to support you. Please contact us right away.


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