Salvia Symptoms and Warning Signs
Salvia was once sold in headshops here in the UK as a legal high. It is a Mexican plant that has leaves that can induce psychedelic hallucinations when chewed or smoked. Although a natural substance, salvia is covered under the 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act, meaning that it is no longer legal to supply it for human consumption. But that does not stop people from using it, particularly those still struggling with an addiction to it.
If you have a problem with salvia, you may have been under the impression that it was a harmless substance when you first began using it. This belief was probably reinforced by the fact that is derived from a plant that obviously grows naturally. However, abuse of salvia does not come without consequences, not least of which is a potential crippling addiction.
Although classed as a part of the sage and mint family, salvia has properties that make it one of the most powerful psychedelic drugs available. In fact, it is considered as strong as LSD, and its effects tend to appear almost instantly. Nevertheless, as the effects wear off after around only thirty minutes, the user may be tempted to take more. This can lead to increased tolerance and could leave the user at a higher risk of addiction.
The more you use a substance and the more of an impact it has on your life, the greater the chance that you could develop an addiction from using it. It is therefore important that you are able to recognise the signs of abuse so that you can act accordingly.
Other Names for Salvia
- Salvia Divinorum
- Diviner’s Sage
- Magic Mint
- Seer’s Sage
- Shepherdess’s Herb
- Maria Pastora
Recognising the Common Warning Signs of Salvia Abuse
If you have been abusing salvia for recreational purposes or as a way to escape your problems, you might have increased your dosage as tolerance occurred. After all, if you believe that you are not getting the feeling you desire, you may be tempted to take more.
Your behaviour may then start to change as you become more preoccupied with using. You might start to become withdrawn and secretive in a bid to hide your doings from loved ones. Even if you believe that you have full control over your use of salvia, if think that you can stop any time you like and cannot see what anyone else is worried about, the very fact that the people who love you are concerned may be a sign of a bigger issue.
As your use of this drug continues to become a problem though, you may notice that other areas of your life are starting to be affected. Your performance in school or work could drop, and you might have a hard time concentrating. You may also start spending more money feeding your habit, which can result in financial difficulties for both you and your closest people – the ones you never wanted to burden.
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The Dangers of Salvia Abuse
There is still relatively little known about the full effects of salvia abuse. However, because it is a powerful hallucinogen, there are fears that it could trigger psychosis, particularly in people with a family history of such illnesses. It is also thought that, with chronic salvia use, memory and cognitive functioning could be impaired.
There is always the risk of having a bad experience while under the influence.
This could cause you to feel panicky or paranoid, consequently putting yourself and others in danger. A reliable therapist will know how to help you manage these effects.
Although salvia is not thought to cause a physical dependence, there is the risk that you may become psychologically dependent on the drug if you use it regularly. You might get to a point where you start to feel a real need for it, which could mean you struggle to function without it.
If you are compelled to use salvia, you may have little time for anything else, which can place a massive strain on relationships with those you care about. If you allow your use to get out of hand, you could eventually lose all the things that are most important to you.
Recognising a Salvia Addiction
Salvia is a drug that produces an intense high for a short period. The effects of the drug wear off quite quickly and people are often tempted to use it repeatedly to prolong the high Nevertheless, with protracted regular use of salvia, your loved one is in real danger of developing an addiction and the host of other problems that go with it.
To determine if someone you care about has an addiction to salvia, it is important to think about how they are using and when. For example, if daily life is being negatively affected by it, yet they continue to take it anyway, it could possibly be that he or she is in fact addicted.
If you find yourself being neglected by that person, that they no longer care as much about their hobbies and favourite activities, they almost certainly have a problem that needs to be addressed.
It is not easy to admit when the use of a particular substance is beyond our control. If you think that they cannot quit, or they have confided the problem to you, that, no matter how hard they try, they keep going back to salvia; despite promising that they wouldn’t use it, then you need to help.
Salvia Addiction and the Brain
It is unclear exactly how salvia affects the brain, but it does cause hallucinations and distorted sensory perceptions. The drug contains salvinorin A and it is thought that this affects certain areas of the brain that then result in the hallucinogenic effects.
When you use salvia, you may experience a distorted reality and a feeling that your mind and body have become detached. You might also see colours more vividly and hear sounds more clearly. You may also see and hear things that are not there.
Nonetheless, while many people have an enjoyable experience when taking salvia, it can also cause anxiety and fear from often-frightening hallucinations.
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Learn the Immediate Side Effects of Salvia Abuse
The immediate side effects of salvia abuse include:
- distorted sensory perceptions
- slurred speech
- lack of coordination
- memory problems
- changes in emotion
- decreased heart rate
- vision changes
Learn the Long-Term Salvia Abuse Side Effects
As very little research has been done into the effects of salvia at the time of this writing, it is difficult to speculate what the full extent of long-term abuse might be. Nevertheless, it has been suggested that it could possibly have a significant negative impact on long-term memory.
There is also the risk that flashbacks could occur, even many years after a particularly bad trip. Chronic abuse of hallucinogenic drugs often results in unexpected and sudden flashbacks that can end up interfering with everyday life.
Intervention for a Salvia Addiction
If you are worried that a loved one’s use of salvia is becoming a problem, it is important that you act as soon as you can. Failure to address the issue can result in a worsening of the condition, which could result in negative consequences for all concerned. There are hotlines, and even private – paid clinics, that can provide free advice.
If you are worried about the situation, then it is probably best to raise the issue with the affected person, but choose a time when he or she may be more open to the suggestion of help, such as after a particularly bad trip. Do not be surprised if you are met with denials and protestations that nothing is wrong – this is common with those who are unable, or unwilling, to see that their use of a chemical substance has become a problem.
Your loved one might know deep down that addiction is a very real possibility but may be hoping that by doing nothing, he or she can avoid dealing with the issue. It could be the case that they are not yet ready to quit or are afraid of what treatment will be like.
Failure to broach the subject though, however difficult you might find it, will allow your loved one to continue with his or her addictive behaviour without being held to account – this will do no good.
Detox and Withdrawal
Salvia is not a drug that is regularly associated with physical withdrawal symptoms but there have been occasions where some, particularly those who had been using it heavily for a long time, suffered from symptoms such as nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
It is therefore unlikely that you will require a medical detox to withdraw from salvia before you begin a programme of rehabilitation.
Treatment and Next Steps
If you are addicted to salvia, you will probably need treatment to help you quit. It may be the case that an outpatient treatment programme is sufficient to help you overcome your need to use the drug.
Nevertheless, you might prefer the idea of an inpatient programme where you can get away from the temptations of everyday life and where you will have the opportunity to get well in the shortest amount of time.
The choice between inpatient and outpatient treatment programmes is yours to make but will depend on what your own needs, circumstances and preferences are. It is best to seek advice about your options so that you can choose the right programme to help you get your life back on track.
Rehabilitation will help you to learn the reasons you became addicted and will help you to address these issues so that they do not cause a problem at a later date. With psychotherapeutic treatments and holistic therapies, you can overcome your addiction to salvia once and for all.
Questions about Treatment
Q. How can I tell if I need help?
A. One certain sign is if your family members or friends are suggesting that you do indeed need help. Because of the way salvia has probably been clouding your mind, you may find it harder to see what everyone else has noticed. To know for sure if you need help, talk to a professional for an assessment of your situation. Hotlines and even private clinics, your GP and therapists are willing to provide free advice.
Q. Should I bother trying to get help – I’ve tried before without success?
A. Just because you may have been unsuccessful in the past it does not mean a different approach will not work. There is no single treatment that works for everyone, so in your case, it will just be a matter of finding what works for you.
The correct approach is to create tailored plans of care for every patient. Clinics make sure that they take all your needs and circumstances into consideration before you start treatment. They also have the option to change any part of the programme if it is not working as expected. The flexibility of bespoke treatment plans means that you can find the treatment that will work for you to give you the greatest chance of permanent success.
Q. What if I don’t think I’m bad enough for rehab?
A. It is often the case that those affected by addiction delay reaching out for help because they believe their illness is not bad enough to warrant professional help. The reality is that you do not have to reach rock-bottom to access help; in fact, the sooner you get help, the easier it will be for you to make a full recovery. The fact that you are already aware that you have a problem means that it is bad enough to warrant help.
Q. What’s the point in quitting – my life will be miserable?
A. You might have initially turned to salvia in an attempt to escape from a life that was making you unhappy, but the aim of rehabilitation is to help you address the issues that have led you to this point. While you could believe that your substance abuse makes you feel better, you should take some time to consider whether it has improved your life or actually made it worse.
The issues that caused your addiction will still be there whether you are under the influence of salvia or not, and you can only escape them on a temporary basis. It is better to deal with these issues head on so that you can try to improve your quality of life. With treatment, you can turn your life around and live a healthy and happy substance-free existence.
Call our admissions line 24 hours a day to get help.