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How A Better Today Treats Salvia Addiction

Dale Pendell wrote about experiences with salvia in his book Pharmako/Poeia—Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft, saying, “It’s very intense, I call it a reality stutter, or a reality strobing. I think that having been a test pilot, and flying in that unforgiving environment with only two feet between our wingtips, helped to prepare me for this kind of exploration.”

Salvia’s fleeting psychoactive elements and Pendell’s account may be a good explanation for some of salvia’s street names: Magic Mint, Shepherdess’s Herb, and Diviner’s Sage. 38% of users describe the effects of Salvia as comparable to other hallucinogens such as heroin or psilocybin. However, 23% describe the effects as mild, comparable to yoga and meditation.

Salvia’s natural environment is in Oaxaca, Mexico, specifically the cloud forest in Sierra Mazateca where the ground is protected from the sun and moisture is abundant. Mazatec Shamans view salvia as the rebirth of the Virgin Mary in plant form. When performing rituals with salvia, Shamans call upon Mary and other saints to be present for the ingestion and subsequent effects of the plant. This is the extent of our knowledge on the plant’s origin, as its history is not well known.

Salvia has not undergone definitive research, so not much is known about its acute or long-term effects on the body. Salvia abuse treatment should be considered for an individual who struggles with a growing frequency of use and dosage, especially if the individual has experienced complications with friends or family members or a significant life event, such as the loss of a job or marriage, due to the abuse of salvia.

Salvia FAQ’s

What is Salvia?

Salvia Divinorum is an herb with hallucinogenic effects. It is a perennial from the mint family.

What is Salvia’s origin?

While this herb can be grown anywhere indoors, Salvia Divinorum is native to Oaxaca, Mexico. The herb has traditionally been used in the religious rituals of the Mazatec Indians.

What are Salvia’s common street names?

Sally-D, Maria Pastora, Salvia

How is Salvia abused?

Salvia Divinorum is vaporized, smoked, and chewed.

What is Salvia’s effects on the mind?

Salvia Divinorum can cause fear, uncontrollable laughter, hallucinations, panic, object distortions, a sense of overlapping realities, and perception of bright lights, colors, shapes, and body movement.

What is Salvia’s effects on the body?

Salvia Divinorum can cause dizziness, loss of coordination, and slurred speech.

What are Salvia’s overdose effects?

An overdose of Salvia Divinorum can cause dizziness, loss of coordination, and slurred speech.

Which drugs cause similar effects as Salvia?

Salvia Divinorum shares similar characteristics as hallucinogenic substances.

What are the withdrawal effects of Salvia?

It is very rare for someone to experience withdrawal effects after abusing Salvia Divinorum, even after long periods of time. However, some withdrawal effects have been recorded, and they include vomiting, gastrointestinal problems, nausea, and diarrhea.

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What is Salvia?

Salvia is consumed by chewing raw leaves or smoking dried leaves (sometimes with marijuana) and brewing dry leaves into a tea. The leaves react with receptors in the brain that are similar to opioid receptors, causing hallucinations and other psychiatric effects, which produce either desired or fearsome sensations. Although hallucinations materialize quickly and last for a short time, they are powerful and can leave a profound impression.

A recent survey indicated that heightened insight and elevated mood were the dominant effects of ingesting the plant, which creates an intrigue for young people. The DEA has categorized salvia as a “drug of concern” as some states have criminalized its use. One parent believes that her son committed suicide because of the plant, saying that salvia influenced him to believe that “existence is generally pointless.” She is fighting to have salvia added to the DEA’s Schedule I drug list. However, it remains legal and unregulated in many states.

Drug & Alcohol Interventions for Salvia

An alarming jump in the recent number of eighth graders using salvia for the first time is indicative of the growing trend of its use. Teens often assume that plants are safer than synthetic drugs, regardless of the limited reliable studies done on their short-term and long-term effects.

An individual dependent on Salvia may be the last to see that the roots of their problems can be directly attributed to the frequency and volume of their salvia consumption habit. Often, blame is placed on family members or bad luck and salvia is seen as a reprieve rather than the cause.

When family members come together for the benefit of a loved one, the person can become inspired by, yet apprehensive about, treatment and recovery. Whatever the result of an intervention may be, the message sent by loved ones will be heard and could prevent the dependency from becoming more rooted.

Signs & Symptoms

Both the desired and adverse effects of salvia are incidental to the frequency of use, the dosage of each use and the chemical make-up of the individual’s brain. Effects can range from mild, such as euphoria or tranquility, to severe, such as dissociation or paranoia. The following are signs of salvia use and symptoms of intoxication.

  • Hallucinations
  • Visual distortions
  • Loss of control of physical movement
  • Excessive and uninhibited laughter
  • Chills
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness

In addition, emotions such as depression and anxiety may increase or other personality changes may appear.


We know Salvia can be psychologically addictive, but whether or not it is physically addictive is unclear. Substances that produce feelings of overall well-being are generally understood to have addictive properties. Although studies have not been done to reveal its addiction potential, there is at least one case in which withdrawal symptoms had to be treated in a hospital.

After smoking multiple doses of salvia daily for several weeks, a middle-aged woman abruptly discontinued her salvia ingestion completely. About 2 days after her last dose, she developed several gastrointestinal complications such as diarrhea and vomiting. She was hospitalized for 3 days.


An episode of salvia intoxication is characteristically different from the “trips” or “highs” on other drugs. Too often, those abusing the drug are seeking a particular experience that never comes. This leads to the belief that the effects aren’t “working,” so more is consumed, saturating the brain and risking a psychological overdose.

Regarding a psychological overdose, one person reported, “I think Salvia overdoses are especially bad because they bring out schizophrenic-like occurrences. You feel presences from other dimensions or you feel like some invisible force is pushing you. Salvia overdoses lead to confusion and disorientation that you didn’t sign up for.”

Medical Detox

Effective medical detox experts focus on taking the discomfort out of the detox and withdrawal process. We understand that each patient has different needs. Patients can usually choose to either undergo medical detox or social detox. You deserve an effective and realistic addiction treatment plan. Learn More

Intensive Outpatient

Different outpatient programs, such as intensive outpatient and evening intensive outpatient programs, can help patients receive treatment while living at home. Connecting you to a safe and therapeutic program is our top priority. Learn More

Residential Treatment

Residential facilities are the perfect place to start your journey to recovery. At high-quality residential treatment centers, expert clinicians and medical providers assess your needs and provide an individualized plans tailored to your needs. Learn More

Providing Quality Treatment for Salvia Addictions

There is no definitive knowledge on the effects of salvia. Insofar, emotional and psychological dependency is a growing concern.

For many, there is an underlying disorder driving the dependency that needs to be addressed by a doctor. If one suffers from an undiagnosed mental disorder such as anxiety or depression, a misguided approach to relieving these discomforts sometimes include salvia abuse.

Many agree that a comfortable, happy life without the reprieve of salvia is unimaginable. However, when these disorders are diagnosed and addressed with appropriate treatment and medication, the road to recovery is easier to comprehend.

Substance abuse treatment for those dependent on salvia is important to restore natural functioning of the brain. Cognitive therapy empowers an individual to set goals and make decisions that benefit overall life improvement.

Health and nutrition are a significant part of recovery as a healthy body is just as important as a healthy mind.

Salvia abuse treatment also prepares one for early recovery and beyond. An aftercare plan is created to help an individual remain convicted in their newfound sobriety and arranges for continued peer support in the form of group therapy with a therapist or participation in a 12-step program.

The ultimate goal is to rekindle that spark for life that will help achieve your version of success and happiness in your recovery.

Common Behaviors Associated With Salvia Addiction

Soon after Salvia is consumed, visions of a cartoon-like world begin to appear and environmental perceptions change. While the person is responding to a visual world in which he or she is the only participant, his or her outward reaction demonstrates disturbing behavior such as staggering, unmanageable laughter and even speaking in tongues.

Visually, someone under the influence of salvia sees impossible changes in tangible items in their local vicinity. Sizes may be morphing from small to large or even dissolve into a completely different form. This causes serious concern for a lack of judgment that could cause great harm, such as driving a car.

After about 30-60 minutes, the effects diminish and fatigue sets in.; subsequently, heavy sleep is often inevitable. Other behaviors under the influence of salvia are somewhat milder including difficulty with speech, paranoia, tremors, difficulty with concentration and restlessness.

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ABTRS Reputable Resources for Your Treatment Options

Getting unbiased information that you can trust in is important to ABTRS. It is vital to know where your information is coming from and whether you can trust in the source to make the life changing decisions you need to make. Knowledge has always been considered empowering. Especially when it comes to taking control of your disease of addiction and seeking the treatment you need to live a life that is fulfilling and rewarding. When it comes to substance abuse treatment, our patients and their families need reliable resources that are unbiased and proven or tested to be effective by the scientific or psychology community. We take pride in providing knowledge from reputable sources that are up to date and relevant. Checkout the list below to learn more about where ABTRS got their information for this webpage.

Cesar.umd.edu. (2019). Salvia Divinorum | CESAR. [online] Available at: http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/salvia.asp [Accessed 28 Feb. 2019].

Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 16-4984, NSDUH Series H-51). Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/

Addressing Chemically Dependent Colleagues Volume 2/Issue 2 July 2011. Retrieved from https://www.ncsbn.org/Addressing_Chemically_Dependent.pdf

Mealer, M., Burnham, E. L., Goode, C. J., Rothbaum, B., & Moss, M. (2009). The prevalence and impact of post-traumatic stress disorder and burnout syndrome in nurses. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2919801/

The Opioid Crisis and the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist: How Can We Help. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.aana.com/docs/default-source/aana-journal-web-documents-1/guest-editorial—the-opioid-crisis-and-the-certified-registered-nurse-anesthetist—how-can-we-help.pdf?sfvrsn=76ad4ab1_4

Toney-Butler TJ, Siela D. Recognizing Alcohol and Drug Impairment in the Workplace in Florida. (2018). Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507774/

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