Damiana Symptoms and Warning Signs
Certain substances, many of which have no evidence of being effective for treating certain conditions, are often used by different cultures around the world. Take damiana, for instance. This wild shrub grows in Mexico, the West Indies, and other areas of Central and South America. It has long been used in Mexico as a flavouring in liqueurs that can be used in margaritas instead of triple sec.
In ancient times, damiana was used as an aphrodisiac, but it was (and is) also used in some cultures to treat conditions such as constipation, depression, headaches, and bedwetting, as well as to boost mental stamina. These days though it is often used as a legal high as it can produce hallucinogenic effects when smoked.
Due to the effects that damiana has on the central nervous system, mainly in terms of inducing mild feelings of relaxation and euphoria, it is thought to be an addictive substance. When used regularly, it is possible to develop a psychological dependence on it, which can then go on to interfere with daily life.
Damiana is reported to be similar to cannabis in terms of its effects, although it is a milder substance. It can be smoked, or alternatively dried and drank as a tea.
Other Names for Damiana
- Turnera Diffusa
- Mexican Damiana
- Old Woman’s Broom
- Herba de la Pastora
Recognising the Common Warning Signs of Damiana Abuse
If you are using damiana regularly to get high, then you may notice it interfering with daily life. Mood-altering substances tend to affect the way that the brain works. While you may not necessarily notice any changes in your behaviour, your family members and friends may eventually notice a difference in your behaviour.
While damiana may not cause a physical dependence where you would experience physical withdrawal symptoms when you stop using it, it can cause a psychological addiction when abused. The more you use the drug, the more likely you are to feel a need for it. You may find that you are unable to function without it and you might end up becoming preoccupied with it.
While damiana is a natural substance, using it for recreational purposes is classed as abuse and can end up having a negative impact on your life. Although not everyone who abuses damiana will go on to develop a problem, the risk is still there.
It is important to think about your use of damiana and how your life may have changed since you began using it. If you have less time for family and friends now because you have become more concerned with using this drug, then you could need some help to get better.
Abuse of damiana could also lead you to take unnecessary risks. If your judgement is impaired while under the influence of damiana, you may be endangering not only yourself but others as well.
The Dangers of Damiana Abuse
Little research has been done on the effects of damiana abuse and the dangers it presents. However, as with all mood-altering substances, there is a risk to health and way of life. If you allow your abuse of damiana to get out of control, you may find, for example, that your relationships with others are being negatively affected.
If your life starts to revolve around damiana use, you will likely have little time for those around you. This includes family members, friends, and work colleagues. You may lose interest in activities and hobbies that you once found pleasurable, which can then be difficult for others to comprehend. They may not understand why you are putting a mood-altering substance above other important things in your life. As you might imagine, this can eventually lead to relationship problems.
Damiana is a substance that is known to lower blood sugar levels, so it can be dangerous for anyone with diabetes. If you suffer from diabetes and have been taking damiana, you have to be alert to the signs of low blood sugar, signs such as sweating, headache, confusion, hunger, dizziness, shakiness, and irritability.
There is also the risk of having an allergic reaction to damiana, and this can cause symptoms that include:
- breathing difficulties
- swelling of the lips, face, tongue, or throat.
Many people smoke the dried leaves of damiana with tobacco; this can lead to nicotine addiction as well as illnesses such as bronchitis, lung disease, and even lung cancer.
You should also be aware that taking damiana in high doses could lead to convulsions.
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Recognising a Damiana Addiction
If you have allowed your use of damiana to get out of control, then it could very well be the case that you have developed an addiction; nevertheless, recognising this can be difficult. It is important to be cognisant of the signs of addiction and to get help if you believe you are affected.
For example, you may find that you are unable to control your use of damiana. If you have tried to quit or cut back on your use without success, it could be that you are already addicted and in need professional help to quit.
If you are unable to stop your use of it once you start, you could benefit from seeking treatment. Addiction is classed as any pattern of behaviour that has a negative impact on everyday life. Consequently, if your damiana use is interfering with your ability to live a normal life, it is worth talking to a professional about what steps you can take to regain control of your life.
Damiana Addiction and the Brain
Damiana reportedly has similar effects to cannabis in that it can induce feelings of calmness, relaxation, and mild euphoria. It stimulates dopamine production in the brain and can also reduce feelings of anxiety.
Because of the hallucinogenic effects of the drug, as well as the fact that it can have an impact on certain areas of the brain that cause side effects such as paranoia, it is highly recommended that anyone with mental health problems such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, or mania do not use damiana.
Learn the Immediate Side Effects of Damiana Abuse
Not much is known about the side effects of damiana abuse. However, it is often used as an aphrodisiac and a ‘legal’ way of inducing a mild high. Users often experience:
- low blood sugar
- increased libido
- trouble swallowing
- breathing problems
- uncontrolled muscle movement
There is also the risk of allergic reaction to damiana, which can then result in hives, rash, swelling of the face, mouth, tongue and throat, and difficulty breathing.
Learn the Long-Term Damiana Abuse Side Effects
Long-term health problems associated with damiana abuse are still unknown at the time of this writing.
Intervention for a Damiana Addiction
If you are worried that a loved one’s use of damiana is beginning to interfere with their daily life, it is important that you do something about it as soon as possible. Addiction to any mood-altering substance can quickly spiral out of control without treatment.
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It is important to address the issue. It may be tempting to wait for things to improve alone, hoping for the best. If, however, your loved one’s behaviour is changing and you suspect damiana is to blame, you need to act quickly for his or her good.
You might be met with resistance, but this is completely normal. You have to be aware that sometimes they will not see the issue without help. Your loved one might not believe that he or she has a problem. This is because it is often easier for family members and friends to see the signs of addiction before the one dependent on the drug does.
You can get help if you are unsure of how to address the issue of damiana abuse or addiction with your loved one. A family intervention can help, and this is where you and a group of others close to the addicted person come together to discuss the impact of the addiction on all involved. It is important to consult with a professional interventionist so that you know how to handle eventual complications.
Detox and Withdrawal from Damiana
If you have been smoking damiana, you may develop, among other things, an addiction to nicotine. Trying to quit can then result in a number of withdrawal symptoms, including:
- stomach cramps
- strong cravings
- sore throat
- trouble concentrating
While you may not develop a physical addiction to damiana itself, you might suffer from a psychological need for the drug, particularly if you have been using it for some time.
Treatment and Next Steps
Overcoming any type of substance addiction involves abstinence. To overcome an addiction to damiana, you will need to quit the drug and learn how to live without it. Rehabilitation is available from many different organisations; if your illness is not severe, you may find that an outpatient programme is enough to help you get your life back on track.
Nevertheless, if you are struggling with a severe addiction and are finding it hard to quit, you could benefit from a residential programme. This type of programme would see you attend an inpatient clinic where there will be no distractions and no access to triggers. In a residential programme, you will have a greater opportunity to focus completely on your recovery with nothing to interfere.
Questions about Treatment
Can you get rehab treatment on the NHS?
Treatment for addiction is available on the NHS; however, funding is in short supply, so demand tends to be high and there is often a difficulty in meeting it. While you can go to your GP for a referral to your local treatment centre, or self-refer yourself if you wish, you may have to wait before a place to become available.
Charities offer an alternative to NHS-run programmes and wait times might be shorter, or you could access a private clinic where immediate access is often available.
How much is private treatment for addiction?
The cost of private treatment will vary from one clinic to the next. On average, a 28-day treatment programme will cost between £4,000 and £6,000, but some clinics may charge less than this while others are more expensive.
The more luxurious the clinic and the more state-of-the-art facilities it has, the more expensive it is likely to be. Nonetheless, if you are worried about paying for treatment and are wondering how you would manage, you should know that some clinics offer payment plans to help you spread the cost. Others accept government funding if you are eligible, so there are options available to you if you want to go down this particular route.
How effective is addiction treatment?
There is never any guarantee when it comes to addiction treatment because it is an illness for which there is currently no cure. However, if you are prepared to commit to a programme of recovery and are willing to work with your counsellors and therapists, you have every chance of long-term success.
Addiction treatment can be extremely effective for those who are motivated and who have a real desire to change. With the right treatment programme designed around you and your needs, you will learn how to live a substance-free life.
Do I need a detox?
This will depend on whether you are physically addicted. If you are, it is likely that you will experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit. The severity of your addiction, your health, and your age can all have an impact on how detox progresses.
You should know that many rehab providers will not accept you for a programme of rehabilitation unless you have completed a detox first. Rehab can be a very emotional process and you will need to have a clear mind and body before you can attempt to address the underlying psychological or emotional issues of your illness. The need for detox, however, depends on the severity of your dependence.
What about my work?
If you require a treatment programme in an inpatient facility, you will be expected to stay in the clinic for the duration of your programme, which could be anywhere between four and twelve weeks, depending on your needs and circumstances. It is understandable that you might be worried about getting time off work.
Doctors will provide a certificate that you can give to your employer to explain your need for time off. If you are worried about what your employer might say about your illness, you can speak to a doctor for advice.
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