Complete Guide to Salvia Addiction and Recovery Resources

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What is Salvia?

salvia addiction information

Salvia is an herb in the mint family that is grown in Southern Mexico. While it sounds harmless, it is anything but.

The main active chemical in the salvia plant, salvinorin A, changes the brain’s chemistry and causes hallucinations. When ingested, it becomes a psychoactive drug. There are different ways to use salvia as a drug which include: chewing, smoking, or using the plant as a tea ingredient. The most popular way to use the drug is by smoking it.

Although the effects only last about 30 minutes, the hallucinations caused by salvia use can be very intense and frightening.

Salvia is a dangerous drug because it is not being regulated by the United States Federal government. While it is illegal in certain states, the lack of regulation on this drug means it is highly accessible and hard to know exactly what you’re getting.

Although salvia is natural and physically non addictive, its relaxing, hallucinogenic nature can cause users to get addicted to the high. This is called a physiological addiction, and it can be very dangerous to the user’s mental health.

If you or a loved one is addicted to salvia, it’s important to know that help is out there. You can live a healthy life again with the help of professional support. Your chance of relapsing is much lower if you choose to seek out assistance from a salvia rehab center, and your recovery experience will be more comfortable.

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Salvia Street Names

Today, salvia is the most potent naturally occurring hallucinogenic substance in the world. It causes extreme, short term effects that can be very intense.

Some of the street names for salvia include:

  • Diviner’s Sage
  • Maria pastora
  • Magic Mint
  • Sally-D
  • Sage of the seers
  • Lady Sally

Who is Using it?

People claim multiple reasons for using salvia, including:

  • curiosity
  • relaxation and mood improvement
  • getting high
  • spiritual effects

The US Department of Justice states that the majority of salvia users are between the ages of 18 and 25. Salvia has a large presence on the internet, which hypes up the drug and its effects. There are numerous chat rooms and drug forums where people talk about their experience with the drug. This is one reason why experts believe salvia is most prevalent among teens and young adults.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in the year 2017 and estimate of 1.4 million people were using some sort of hallucinogen including salvia, showing again that the majority of users are between the ages of 18 and 25. 

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Salvia Addiction for Teens and Young Adults

Salvia is used primarily by teens and young adults, aged 18-25. Along with the wide-spread internet presence, the short, intense nature of salvia appeals to teens. It can be used as a form of escape, and can be used repetitively since it’s not physically addictive. 

If you are the parent or guardian of a teen who is addicted to salvia, know that there is information and resources out there to help you and your teen navigate this addiction.

Here are some common causes of teen salvia addiction:

  • External stress: Drugs are an enticing coping mechanism for teens who are under a lot of pressure to perform at school or in their extracurriculars. And since salvia is legal by federal government, it can be more easily accessible for teens than other drugs. They see salvia as a way to escape from the pressures of daily life, but they end up in a vicious cycle. Salvia use can lead to school tardiness, memory loss, and possible cognitive defects.  
  • Co-occuring mental health issues: If a teen is suffering from depression or anxiety, they might try to self-medicate by using salvia. While it may seem like a tempting, temporary relief, in reality it could have dangerous consequences. Misusing salvia to try to treat a mental disorder can do further damage or create an unsettling dependence on the drug, which only creates a bigger problem.
  • Hereditary influence: There is some research that shows that addiction is a genetic trait that can be passed down through generations. Some people can experiment with drugs, while others can form addictions very easily. 

If you believe your teen is addicted to salvia, there are ways to help. The first step is always to talk to your teen and help them find alternative ways to cope with the underlying issues causing them to use. Make sure you know about salvia so you can give them the information on the drug and educate them on how it affects their body. 

Work on building a trusting relationship with your teen so they know that they can turn to you and you will help them deal with their problems rather than turning to drugs or other unhealthy habits. 

If the addiction continues or is already developed, you should seek professional care. Therapy, detox, and rehab are all good options that are available to teens and can help them get back on the right track. 

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Salvia’s Legal Status in Different States

Salvia is not considered illegal by the federal government currently, but it is listed as a “drug of concern” by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Each state has its own rules and regulations concerning salvia, and it is important to know where it is illegal versus legal. 

These states consider salvia a Schedule I substance, which means the possession, sale, or use of the drug in that state is illegal.

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Wyoming

These states have certain limitations on the possession, sale, and use of salvia, but have not classified it as a Schedule I drug. 

  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Minnesota
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin

In these states, salvia is completely legal and is only restricted to minors. 

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

This is based on information from each state as of May 2018. Since salvia is not physically addictive and has not been linked to any deaths, the federal government has not deemed it illegal. But due to the nature of its side effects and the dangerous behaviors people may engage in while high, many states have chosen to outlaw the drug. 


Salvia Abuse: The Drug’s Short Term Effects

Salvia gives you an intense, short-lived high. Medical experts state that people will feel its effects most powerfully about 2 minutes after smoking (if that is the chosen way to take the drug). The high only lasts about 20 minutes total. 


The Salvia High

Salvia is very different from other hallucinogenic drugs in the way that it affects the brain. It still does produce similar effects, but instead of causing people to become more outgoing and boisterous, it produces an introverted response. When you use it, you tend to become more philosophical in your thinking. This result means that it’s not very popular in the club scene, and it’s more often used by people when they’re in smaller groups, or even alone.

Salvia users explain the high they feel as experiencing:

  • Seeing unusual bright lights, shapes, and colors
  • Figures appearing to be cartoon-like
  • Detachment from self and environment
  • Flashbacks
  • Merging with objects around them
  • Feeling a pushing, pulling, or stretching on their body
  • Feeling like they are in multiple places at once

Peter Addy, current researcher at Yale University, conducted the first large scale study group on salvia back in 2015. He gathered 30 participants to willing smoke salvia in a relaxed, controlled space so he could observe and record his findings.

This is what was reported to Newsweek after participants explained their experience of being high on salvia:

“Some people literally forgot which way was up, or didn't know if they owned their bodies anymore. Others felt their internal organs being pulled in directions across all three planes, and through extra dimensions they hadn't known existed. And a few could "feel" objects by looking at them.”


Salvia’s Side Effects

While this type of high is appealing to some, there’s more that comes with it. For those who have gotten caught up in salvia abuse, they’re often surprised to find out that even one use can have a devastating effect on them, and even lead to addiction. Some short term side effects of salvia use include:

  • A loss of coordination
  • Paranoid thoughts that lead to dangerous behaviors
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • A loss of memory
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Low heart rate
  • Feelings of being anxious
  • Terrible headaches

Some hallucinogenic drugs will also produce the sensation that the user can “hear colors” and “smell sounds. This is called synesthesia, and it’s definitely a part of the high with salvia for many users; even those who only use the drug one time.


Salvia Addiction Symptoms: The Drug’s Long Term Effects

There have not been many studies done on the long term effects of salvia, so it’s difficult to say what a lot of the long term consequences of this drug might be. However, because it works differently in the brain than other drugs in its class of hallucinogens, it’s safe to say that it can affect the way you learn. And because of the physiological effects of the drug, long-term use will negatively affect overall mental health and wellness. 

Some long term side effects of drugs similar to salvia include:

  • Flashbacks (long after drug use)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation
  • Delusions
  • Personality changes

Dangers of Salvia Use

Even after viewing the list of side effects, many people still do not believe salvia is a dangerous drug because it is natural and “non addictive.” While these facts may be true, the problem is the dangerous behaviors that users engage in when on the drug.

One of the effects of a salvia high is “detachment from self and environment.” If a person is detached from their own logic and the environment around them, they are much more likely to engage in behavior that could be harmful to themselves or those around them.

Another concern with salvia use is driving while under the influence. Anyone that is high on salvia will be experiencing hallucinations, and if that person gets behind the wheel, the consequences could be deadly.


Bad Salvia Trips

Since salvia is the most potent naturally occurring drug, with some experts claiming it is more powerful than LSD, people are bound to have some frightening experiences while high. These are called “bad trips”, and while technically temporary, they can scar users for life. 

While temporary toxic psychosis is likely to occur with such a powerful hallucinogen, there have been cases where this psychosis becomes prolonged after a bad trip. This can result in hospitalization and possible self-harming. Although these terrible side-effects are extremely rare, they show the potentially dangerous power that salvia has on the mind.

Philip Sherwell of The Telegraph also observed and reported on a man in London under the influence of salvia. He gives an account of this man’s appearance in that moment:

“His eyes have glazed over and he doesn't seem to know where he is. As he slowly manoeuvres himself in his chair, his head rocking from side to side, he looks like a man who has just been hit over the skull by an iron bar.”

He goes on to describe the scene like being out of a nightmare. Even though every trip may be different, the high potency of salvia leaves a large margin for a “bad trip” to occur. This is one of the reasons why salvia is a dangerous drug despite the fact that it is not deemed illegal by the United States federal government. 


How Salvia Interacts With Other Drugs

Even though salvia is considered the most potent hallucinogenic drug out there, people still choose to mix it with other drugs when using. 

Some of the common combinations of other substances with salvia include:

  • Salvia and alcohol: usually a fairly mild interaction 
  • Salvia and acid: a dangerous combination of hallucinogens. Both are very unpredictable.
  • Salvia and marijuana: Both unpredictable. Very dependant on dosage and person. Can lead to paranoia

The bottom line here is that salvia produces a very intense, short-lived high. Since this drug is already extremely potent and very unpredictable, it is very dangerous to mix with other substances. 


Signs of Salvia Addiction

According to current research, salvia is not known to be physically addictive. However, it is still possible to become psychologically dependent upon salvia, which is where the addiction comes into play. Therefore, if you are psychologically addicted to salvia, you may experience withdrawal symptoms like depression and anxiety or even panic attacks. These symptoms can sometimes give way to instances of paranoia or suicidal thoughts. 

If you are using salvia and experiencing any of these symptoms, then you may be addicted to the substance. If you feel changes in your mental health that you previously did not struggle with, it may be time to seek out medical help for your salvia addiction. The good news is that there is help if you choose to seek it.

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How to Know if a Loved One is Addicted to Salvia

If you are a parent or loved one of someone using salvia, and you have noticed significant changes in their personality or mental health, then they are most likely addicted. You can also tell if someone close to you is addicted to salvia by their behaviors, and these can include:

  • Having uncontrollable laughter
  • Talking about visiting past memories or places from their childhood
  • Feeling as though they are experiencing motion
  • Feelings of being twisted or pulled by “forces”
  • Visibly seeing membranes, films or two-dimensional surfaces

While these behaviors might seem strange to you, but they’re all a part of the Salvia high. Be sure to talk to a medical expert to help you through the process of finding help for your loved one. 


How to Help Someone Intoxicated on Salvia

The Journal of Emergency Medicine conducted a review in partnership with the California Poison Control System to study their experience with salvia intoxication over the 10 years preceding 2011.

The publishers determined that people who are intoxicated on salvia need intensive monitoring and supportive care. There are also possibilities for seizures and prolonged mental health issues if salvia is combined with other drugs. 

If you are with someone who is severely intoxicated on salvia and is experiencing extreme hallucinations, medical attention may be necessary. You should either call 9-1-1 or contact the nearest health care facility to seek professional advice.

In the meantime, make sure the intoxicated person is in a safe and secure environment where they cannot injure themselves. Remove any sharp or potentially dangerous objects from the room and try to keep them in an area with soft objects surrounding them.

The most important thing to do is remain calm and always seek professional medical care if you are in doubt or uneasy about the situation.


The Road to Recovery: Salvia Detox 

The first step in recovering from any drug use is called detox. This is a period of time when a person stops taking drugs long enough for the toxic substance to fully leave their body. The catch is that your body will go through uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms in the absence of the drug it got so used to. 

While salvia may not do much physical harm in the short term, it still has withdrawal symptoms that will occur when you stop using. 

If you or someone you love is addicted to salvia, a medically supervised detox is the all-important first step. Choosing a detox program that is overseen by experts will ensure a safe detox experience that will be as comfortable as possible. It also decreases the chance of relapse during the detox process.


Salvia Withdrawal Timeline: What to Expect

There has not been much research done on salvia use and its effects, however, as with any drug, there will be physical side effects when drug use stops.

If you are a long time user of salvia, you can expect some short term and long term withdrawal effects from suddenly stopping drug use.


Short Term Salvia Withdrawal

These short term withdrawal effects can begin just a few hours after last salvia dosage and last a few days after stopping usage.

  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Memory issues
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Mood swings
  • Possible cravings

Long Term Salvia Withdrawal

Long term withdrawal effects from salvia are not as widely known since it has not been widely researched, but there are a few effects known to potentially last for a few weeks.

  • Emotional distress
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Flashbacks

There are also other hallucinogenic drugs similar to salvia that have caused permanent damage in people’s mental health. Mental illnesses that have occurred due to other hallucinogenic drugs include:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Persistent psychosis
  • Hallucinogenic persisting perception disorder (HPPD)

These are serious medical conditions that cause visual and mood disturbances, paranoia, and disorganized thought processes. Along with these symptoms, people experience ongoing flashbacks, hallucinations, and visual disturbances from these mental disorders.

Many people naively believe that since salvia is natural and not illegal by the federal government’s standards. The problem is that since there has not been much research done on the drug, there are many harmful side effects that could be linked to the drug that we are unaware of.


Salvia Rehab Options

After undergoing detox, the salvia will be out of the user’s system. But, unfortunately the physiological effects of the drug will remain. And since salvia is a physiologically addictive drug by nature, the next step is extremely important. 

Salvia rehab follows up detox to help treat the lasting physiological effects of addiction. Most programs last about 30 days, and it will help give patients the tools they need to beat salvia addiction for good. 

Rehab programs for salvia will be significantly heavy on therapy to maintain the mental health of the patient since that will be at the highest risk. Patients will attend group and individual therapy sessions to get to the underlying causes and issues behind the drug use. 


Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab Facilities

There are two different types of rehab treatment facilities: inpatient and outpatient. 

An inpatient facility is the more intensive option of the two. Inpatient rehab involves living in the facility for the duration of the treatment program. Patients eat, sleep, and breathe rehabilitation. This allows patients to fully focus on their recovery, without any distractions or temptations for relapse. 

Outpatient rehab is a treatment program that allows you to live at home and travel to the facility for arranged meetings and therapy sessions. Outpatient therapy can be a great option for people with responsibilities at home that they need to attend to.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to recovery. When deciding which salvia rehab program to attend, the solution must be catered to your needs. That being said, inpatient rehab facilities statistically have higher success ratings (meaning less reported relapses) because they are a more intensive program.


Recovery Meetings for Salvia

Another resource available to adults or teens who are addicted to salvia are recovery meetings. Recovery meetings are free and local, and anyone can join. While the most common recovery groups are Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, these will not be relevant to salvia users since they are targeted for the wrong substance.

But, there is another option.

First, is a group called SMART Recovery. SMART Recovery stands for Self-Management And Recovery Training, and it is a community of mutual-support groups that help participants overcome any addiction, be it a substance or a habit such as gambling. This method focuses on self-motivation with the encouragement of the support group to change habits and lives. 

While recovery meetings such as SMART recovery are extremely helpful to recovering addicts, they are usually most effective as a follow-up to drug rehab. Rehab helps people figure out tools to manage their addiction in daily life and helps dig deeper in therapy sessions. Recovery meetings are meant to serve as a way to gather together people who already have these tools and this knowledge to help hold them accountable.


Our Treatment Facility at Northpoint Recovery

Northpoint Recovery is an inpatient addiction recovery center that treats every type of substance addiction, including salvia. We offer the highest-quality care to our patients, and we pride ourselves in meeting the needs of every individual. We accept a variety of health insurance plans in order to reach as many people as possible. 

Our 28-day drug rehab is an accredited inpatient rehab program designed to achieve long-term sobriety. This is a great option for those suffering from salvia addiction, because we offer individualized drug rehab plans. 

Patients receive 24/7 medical care while in the program, including the detox period. We also treat co-occurring mental health conditions, and you will receive individual and group therapy to help understand the root of the addiction. 

Although we believe in our method and treatment facility, there is no right solution to addiction recovery. Each person must decide for themselves what will work for them and fit their lifestyle. 

If you believe that Northpoint Recovery could be right for you, please contact us today.

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