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Found in southern Mexico, Salvia divinorum or S. divinorum is a herb used by indigenous people of the U.S. in religious ceremonies, for its psychoactive effects. Of late, North Americans have been using it recreationally, often for spiritual insight. Though there is little conclusive information on its dangers and addictive properties, saliva is by no means a harmless drug.

Usually chewed fresh or extracted in the form of juice, people also use the dried leaves of S. divinorum by smoking in a pipe or a joint, mixing in a drink, vaporizing, or inhaling. Using the drug causes one to experience psychic and physical symptoms, including fear and panic, uncontrollable laughter, slurred speech, dizziness and loss of coordination. A hallucinogen, salvia is a popular recreational drug among teens and young adults and produces effects similar to that induced by other scheduled hallucinogenic drugs. Its effects are short-term, but intense. The effects of salvinorin A, the main active ingredient in salvia, last for less than 30 minutes. Though not widely popular, social media videos demonstrating salvia’s intense hallucinatory powers do also point to its inherent danger when abused.

Salvia abuse

A dissociative drug known for creating “out-of-body” experiences, salvia is mind-altering and causes changes in the brain chemistry of the user. Though studies are not conclusive if there is such a thing as salvia addiction, several U.S. states have decriminalized salvia and most others have declared it illegal. In the black market, salvia is referred to as “Diviner’s Sage,” “Magic Mint,” and “Sally D.” Similar to marijuana, people consume the herb in various ways, including the following:

  • Smoking
  • Chewing
  • Converted into a liquid concentrate for multipurpose
  • Vaping

While psychoactive drugs made from plant products like salvia, ayahuasca, peyote, and others are often considered harmless, there are nonetheless a number of dangers associated with their use, and abuse of salvia could co-occur with a variety of other more serious issues.

Saliva abuse: health consequences

Salvia produces short-lived, intense psychedelic and subjective effects, including slurred speech, sensations and hallucinations. The drug can also contribute to problems with coordination, learning and memory.

Following are some of the common health consequences of saliva abuse:

  • Sudden alteration of perception
  • Memory loss
  • Unconsciousness
  • Symptoms of salvia use
  • Depersonalization
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory loss and severe impairment of coordination
  • Mood swings, including sensations of extreme fear and panic
  • Psychosis

There is little research conducted on salvia and hence, its effect on functioning within the brain demands further study. Psychedelic effects of salvia occur very quickly after metabolizing the drug and the duration of the high is short – less than 30 minutes. Hallucinations caused by salvia use can be tactile, visual and auditory – often with spiritual undertones.

While its effects on the brain are still being researched, studies have established that when ingested, salvinorin A attaches itself and activates part of the nerve cells called kappa opioid receptors (KOR). As compared to other opioid receptors, KOR is involved in human perception, pain awareness, consciousness and mood.

What scientists also understand is the following:

  • Salvia acts on different opioid receptors than those affected by opioids
  • Similar to LSD, its withdrawal symptoms could occur well after the abuse, possibly leading to traumatic flashbacks, suicidal ideation and memory problems

A supervised detoxification treatment can help ease the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and minimize the likelihood of a relapse.

Seeking treatment for salvia addiction

At the root of salvia abuse is an escapist desire, a craving for spiritual connection and a deeper self-consciousness. In these situations, an individual becomes susceptible to mental health problems. A prior history of mental disorder or genetic predisposition, addiction and co-occurring mental health issues demand dual diagnosis treatment for full recovery.

A comprehensive treatment for salvia drug addiction combines medically supervised salvia detox treatment that helps remove any traces of drugs in the body and is followed by counseling or therapy sessions to help uncover any hidden causes of addiction.

In addition to a supervised detox program and behavioral therapies, patients can also be provided with educational opportunities during rehab to explain the potential dangers of continued drug use in their personal and professional life and teach them preventive measures and necessary life-skills to discourage the continued use of drugs like salvia.

Why choose Sovereign Health

Accredited by the Joint Commission, Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego is a trailblazer in modern adolescent recovery providing top-notch treatment for adolescents aged 12-17 years. We are licensed for mental health treatment, with a focus on treating addictions and eating disorders concurrently. Here at Sovereign, we treat the person first, not just the external presentation of addiction or mental disorder. We don’t put a time frame on rehabilitation because self-awakening and subsequent recovery and wellness are as unique as each person.

Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego offers eye-opening and unmatched talk therapies for teens to self-explore and find their true selves. In addition to traditional clinical treatment methods, we treat our patients with the following evidence-based programs:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Solution-focused therapy (SFT)
  • Individual and group therapy

Sovereign Health’s adolescent treatment programs are unique, as they are a fusion of cognitive self-reflection with experiential therapies that make space for cathartic release and revelations from activities an adolescent might not otherwise acquaint themselves. All within a summer camp-like atmosphere chaperoned by an atmosphere of sobriety.

Following are some of the experiential therapies offered at our treatment locations:

  • Yoga
  • Equine therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Neurofeedback

To know more about our tailor-made treatment for adolescents or to locate the finest salvia detox centers near you, call our 24/7 helpline and speak with our admissions team. You can even chat online with our representatives for further assistance.

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