Signs and Symptoms of Salvia Abuse
Salvia Divinorum is a leafy herb that is usually smoked to produce manic and hallucinogenic effects. When smoked, it has almost immediate effects. The user stops relating to the environment and usually begins to laugh uncontrollably. He or she may stumble around or fall down to the ground. The high is quite brief, peaking in five to ten minutes although the effects may continue to wane for another half hour.
Is it a harmless, fun drug? Not really. But one of the problems with this drug is that there is very little conclusive information on its actions, short-range effects and long-range dangers. Any of the usual sources of information on addictiveness and dangers come up short when it comes to salvia.
The Drug Enforcement Administration notes that signs of use of this drug include:
- The perception of bright lights and color
- Uncontrolled laughter
- Lack of control of body movements
- Distortions of perceptions of objects
And for some people, an uncomfortable emotional state characterized by depression and anxiety.
Many people never use salvia a second time because they found the symptoms of the first use so unpleasant.
The high from salvia abuse is very brief, so parents may have a hard time detecting signs or symptoms of use in their children. They may have to note more far-reaching symptoms of changes going on in their children. (see Talking to Kids about Drugs)
These are the common symptoms of all drug abuse:
- Mood changes, more withdrawn or depressed
- Hostility and uncooperativeness
- Changing friends, dropping hobbies and activities
- Grades falling
- Sleeping and eating patterns change without a valid reason
- Hard time focusing or concentrating
- Money missing or too much money or new items appearing
- Family relationships deteriorate.
YouTube and Salvia
Because there is a shortage of analytical information on this drug, parents, legislators and law enforcement alike have had to turn to YouTube, to learn more about it. On YouTube, there are thousands of videos of young people abusing Salvia. A sampling of these videos show people going completely out of control of themselves, laughing uncontrollably, staggering and stumbling, losing perceptions of their environments. Websites advising people on how to use this drug recommend having a “sitter” - someone who looks after you when the drug’s effects kick in.
Is Salvia Damaging?
Sadly, because there is so little information on the dangers associated with this drug, thirty US states as of December 2012 had failed to enact any legislation to make it illegal. There are no stories of people dying of overdoses from this drug but there are stories about salvia-related deaths - including stories of one young man who committed suicide after smoking the drug multiple times a week for seven months and a restaurant owner who acted confused and then shot himself in the face.
The death of young Brett Chidester from Delaware spurred anti-salvia legislation in more than one state. There have been reports that legislators have had to turn to these YouTube videos to see for themselves what the effects of these drugs are. In the meantime, websites sell these drugs to anyone who has a method to pay.
In Chidester’s case, his mother noted that he had told his girlfriend that he could not stop using the drug. The lack of research data on this drug means that it is hard to say if the drug is addictive or not. A drug can be psychologically addictive even if it does not bring about withdrawal symptoms when a person quits using it. A person who continues to abuse salvia may need drug rehab to regain the ability to live a productive, sober and enjoyable life again. The Narconon drug and alcohol rehab program can help these people make it all the way back to stable sobriety again.
Addiction Destroys Values, Productivity and Personal Integrity
In order to eliminate the signs of addiction in one’s life, an addicted person must recover his (or her) personal integrity and learn to live an honest life again. These are qualities that are normally lost when drugs begin to cause a deterioration in personal condition. It is common for relationships, work and other parts of life to also go on a long slide. But this slide can be reversed.
There are Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers around the US and in other countries that help people come back from this kind of damage. It takes helping a person recover both from the physical assault of the drugs and the mental changes brought about by drugs. Both these factors of addiction are remedied on the holistic program at Narconon centers.
One gets the same program at any Narconon facility. A person is supported through a drugless withdrawal step. Nutritional supplements are used, along with close one-on-one work, to calm a body’s cramps and discomfort. It is common for people to talk about how tolerable this withdrawal was. Soon after, a person goes into a sauna after exercising moderately and follows a specific regimen of nutritional supplementation. This combination starts the body detoxifying the residues that have been shown to affect mood, even years later. Most people completing this step talk about how much lower their cravings are - some people even say their cravings are gone.
Then it is time for the person in recovery to build new sober living skills. After learning each of the skills they will need to stay sober, each person needs to apply the skills toward repairing the life that was damaged by drugs.
In the majority of cases, the result is just what parents hope for with all of their hearts: lasting sobriety.
See also Drug Intervention.