You may think salvia is a harmless garden plant, but teens are using it to get high. This hallucinogenic herb has been growing in popularity since 2010, when teen idol Miley Cyrus was spotted abusing it. If your teen has engaged in salvia use, you should seek help to figure out the best course of action.
Teens who seek out hallucinogens may be trying to fit in with their friends, or even trying to escape a stressor in their life. Hallucinating takes them into another world, where their everyday worries may not seem to exist. With just under 2% of high school seniors having used salvia in the past year, this drug is not as widespread as some others, but can be equally as detrimental to your teen’s life.
Commonly used salvia street names include the following:
- Magic Mint
- Ska Pastora or Maria Pastora
- Leaves of the Shepherdess
- Diviner’s Sage or Seer’s Sage
Much like any mind-altering drug, a teen can become emotionally addicted to the high that salvia gives them. Teens can also develop a physical tolerance to the drug, which, over time, causes them to crave more of the substance to achieve the same high. Larger doses of salvia can produce unpleasant repercussions, such as the user passing out.
People who have suffered from mental illnesses such as psychosis in the past may experience relapse after using salvia.
“Psychedelic drugs are especially dangerous for individuals who are psychologically unstable or not yet fully matured emotionally, for example, teenagers.” Dr. Eugene Shroenfeld, Psychiatrist and Addiction Medicine Specialist
Today, teens consume salvia in a number of ways. While eating salvia leaves raw is common, the leaves can also be brewed into tea, or dried and smoked — just like tobacco. It can be vaporized or inhaled through water pipes, similar to how marijuana is used. Also, salvia juice can be extracted from the leaves and ingested. Salvia’s effects tend to last longer when the drug is taken orally rather than smoked.
At present, salvia is quite easy for teens to obtain. Salvia tinctures — concentrated liquid extracts that are often distilled with alcohol — are readily available for purchase online or in smoke shops. The drug itself is not illegal on a federal level, but a number of states have banned or otherwise regulated it. Due to salvia’s liberal availability, it is becoming an increasingly popular drug among teens — especially among boys.
Salvia and Other Drugs
Because psychedelic drugs such as salvia tend to popular party drugs, teens will often end up mixing salvia with alcohol and other drugs. Teens also combine salvia with Xanax and other prescription medications. Thus, it is not surprising that teens who use salvia often have issues with other drugs as well (e.g. marijuana), some of which may be highly addictive.
A salvia dependence may be linked to a co-occurring mental disorder. In fact, hallucinogens like salvia is often linked to higher rates of anxiety disorders, clinical depression and bipolar disorders. When a drug use disorder coincides with a mental disorder, it is referred to as a dual diagnosis. The complexities of comorbidity require dual diagnosis treatment options to treat all co-occurring disorders effectively.
If your child is currently high on salvia, you may notice some of the following signs:
- Slurred speech
- Physical imbalance
- Uncoordinated movements
- Seeming disconnected from reality
- Bouts of uncontrollable laughter
Short-term Effects of Salvia
Dr. Jacob Hooker says of salvia: “Most people don’t find this class of drugs very pleasurable. So perhaps the main draw or reason for its appeal relates to the rapid onset and short duration of its effects, which are incredibly unique. The kinetics are often as important as the abused drug itself.” Essentially, salvia offers teens an “easy” way to try psychedelic drugs, without having to commit very much time to being mentally altered.
Several of the drug’s short-term effects is as follows:
- Dissociative hallucinations
- Dysphoria (a general state of unease)
- Uncontrollable laughter
- A feeling of “loss of body”
- Low heart rate
- Motor function impairment
Long-term Effects of Salvia
Because salvia is relatively new to the modern drug market, its long-term effects have not received much study. This uncertainty is reason enough to approach this drug with tremendous apprehension. However, it is known that similar drugs in the hallucinogenic family can produce long-term effects.
Long-term effects of hallucinogens include the following:
- Flashbacks, well after the initial drug usage
- Lowered motivation
- Alterations in brain chemistry
- Trouble focusing
- Personality changes
Effects on the BrainSalvia’s active ingredient, salvinorin A, adheres to nerve cells and disrupts the communication lines between the brain and the spinal cord. To get a little more specific, salvia is called a kappa opioid receptor agonist. These proteins have analgesic properties, which means they offer some relief from physical pain.
Bad Trips on Salvia
Unfortunately, in some teens, salvia has been known to induce a terrifying temporary psychosis. This is known as a “bad trip.” The aforementioned psychiatrist Dr. Eugene Shroenfeld offers a warning tale about a teenage patient of his, who experienced a bad salvia trip and prolonged toxic psychosis. The young lady was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, where she engaged in self-mutilating behaviors. While Dr. Shroenfeld says that that horrific experience is rare, it demonstrates the dangers of salvia.
You may not notice your child’s salvia withdrawal manifest itself physically. However, since salvia can be emotionally addictive, your teen might experience some mental distress when this drug is removed from their life. From your perspective as a parent, this could mean your teen is moping around more than usual or is even showing signs of severe depression.
If a medical professional diagnoses addiction in your teen, some form of treatment will likely be necessary. We at TheRecoveryVillage.com offer free assistance in setting up steps to recovery, and can help you determine which treatment avenue will work best for your child.
During our years of experience helping parents like you, we have seen that addiction is unspeakably difficult for families to handle. You are not alone. Stay involved. Help your teen begin the journey back to health by getting in touch with us today. Do not wait — your child’s life is too important.
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- http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/salvia“Salvia.” NIDA for Teens. National Institutes of Health, n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.
- http://www.drugfree.org/drug-guide/salvia-divinorum/“Salvia Divinorum.” Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.
- https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens“DrugFacts: Hallucinogens.” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). National Institutes of Health, Jan. 2016. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.
- https://www.drugfoundation.org.nz/salvia/dependence“Dependence, Addiction and Overdose Risk | NZ Drug Foundation.” NZ Drug Foundation | At the Heart of the Matter. NZ Drug Foundation, 9 Oct. 2012. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.
- http://www.salvia.net/articles.php?id=32Schoenfeld, Eugene. “A Salvia Divinorum Horror Story.” Salvia.net – Salvia Divinorum Use, Experiences and Other Info. Salvia.net, n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.
- http://www.maps.org/news-letters/v13n1/13118han.htmlHanes, Karl R. “Salvia Divinorum: Clinical and Research Potential.” MAPS – Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. MAPS.org, 2003. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.
- http://www2.courtinfo.ca.gov/stopteendui/teens/resources/substances/hallucinogens/short-and-long-term-effects.cfm“Short and Long Term Effects | Teens | Survive – Stop Yourself. Stop a Friend.” Partner Sites. Administrative Office of the Courts, n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.
- http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1880Ebbett, Alicia. “The Effects of Hallucinogenic Drugs on The Brain | Serendip Studio.” Serendip Studio’s One World. Serendip Studio, 16 Jan. 2008. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.
- http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/salvia_d.pdf“Salvia Divinorum and Salvinorin A.” DEA Office of Diversion Control. Drug Enforcement Administration, Oct. 2013. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.
- https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080428120701.htmDOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory. “Brain’s Reaction To Potent Hallucinogen Salvia Explored.” ScienceDaily. Science Daily, 28 Apr. 2008. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.
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