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Closeup of leaves on salvia plant.

What Is Salvia?

Salvia, or salvia divinorum, is a hallucinogenic plant that grows specifically in the Oaxaca region of Mexico, according to CESAR. While it is believed to have been used in Mexico for centuries, it was only in 2002 that reports of salvia emerged in the United States.

Small amounts of salvia are able to be cultivated in the United States, though most of the drug comes from Mexico. The plant itself is related to the common mint plant but contains salvinorin A, believed to be the most potent naturally occurring hallucinogen. Since salvia is so new to the United States, it is mostly legal and unregulated. Many incidents involving salvia go unreported by both police and hospitals.

Salvia has gained popularity in the United States largely through the Internet. Many websites have appeared selling dried leaves or salvia extracts. Beyond that, teens have been recording themselves using salvia and posting these videos online, creating a growing culture of salvia abuse.

Due to its unregulated state, there are few studies that have pointed out the exact statistics of salvia abuse in the United States, but experts do believe it is growing, especially among younger teens.

What Does It Do?

Salvinorin A is the main active ingredient in salvia. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, salvinorin A targets nerve cells – the kappa opioid receptors. These receptors are in charge of controlling pain, consciousness, motor control, and moods; however, these receptors are distinct from those stimulated by the use of opiates.

Teen smoking salviaSalvia is a hallucinogen, but it is a different kind of hallucinogen than LSD. While many people have made the comparison between LSD and salvia, those who have abused both drugs have reported a very different high while on salvia. Due to the fact that the high from salvia focuses on an inner experience, salvia is not generally considered a party drug.

According to Medscape, Salvia can be consumed in a number of ways:

  • Smoking the dried leaves
  • Taking the extract directly
  • Mixing the extract into a drink
  • Snorting the powder of the crushed leaves
  • Inhaling it through a vaporizer
  • Chewing the leaves

How salvia is taken depends on the length of the high. It is know that when smoked, the effects will set in within a minute and last for about 30 minutes. When chewed, it will take about 15 minutes for the effects to set in, and the high will last about an hour.

The experience of salvia differs from person to person, and it is based on the method and amount taken, but the high can be described as an overall psychedelic-like experience.

Effects include:

  • Changes in visual perception
  • Changes in body sensations
  • Mood swings
  • A modified perception of reality
  • A modified perception of the self
  • A feeling of traveling through time and space

The Dangers Of Salvia Consumption

Salvia is a hallucinogen, and unlike most hallucinogens, it is completely legal. This means everyone has access to it, including teens. The government has been making inquiries into whether or not it should be regulated or illegalized, with several states already passing laws to regulate its use.

Since there is so little known about salvia’s long-term effects, it is difficult to ascertain its specific dangers. No known deaths have occurred due to salvia use, and there are only a few reported injuries due to abuse of the drug. There are negative effects that can occur while taking salvia, as well. Those abusing salvia can experience:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Dissociation from the self
  • Dysphoria
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Chills

While there are no studies that show that salvia creates a physical addiction, psychological addiction can be just as strong.

Dealing With Addiction

Young man standing outside in front of hedge.Whether it is salvia or any other substance, addiction can be a very debilitating experience. Teens grappling with addiction often miss school, let their grades drop, lose interest in activities they used to enjoy, lose friends, and experience lessened appetites. It doesn’t take long for a teen’s life to dramatically suffer due to persistent drug abuse.

Parents can find it difficult to deal with a teen with a drug addiction. The initial feeling at finding their teen using drugs is often anger or frustration. While understandable, this approach may push the teen away, resulting in continued drug abuse. Parents looking to help an addicted teen should approach calmly and with compassion. Oftentimes, it can be helpful for parents to enlist the help of a professional – a therapist or interventionist – before talking to their teen, in order to ensure that they approach the situation in the best manner possible.

Help Is Available

If your teen has been experimenting with salvia, early intervention is essential – before that experimentation turns into regular abuse and then addiction. If your teen is already there and regularly abusing drugs of any kind, Next Generation Village can help. With professional care and comprehensive treatment available, you can help your teen get back on track to a healthy, balanced future. Call now to learn more.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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