A-Z Teen Health Glossary

Teen Salvia Addiction Treatment

Salvia is a plant in the mint family, usually grown in Latin American countries.  Teen salvia addiction develops from this hallucinogenic drug by chewing the leaves or drinking the extracted juice of the herb.  The active ingredient in salvia affects specific nerve cells and produces hallucinogenic effects, with a short-lasting but intense high, occurring as quickly as one minute and lasting as long as a half hour.

Because it is a hallucinogenic drug, salvia is not addictive in the same sense as dopaminergic drugs. However, the potential for abuse is still there, especially if a teen uses the euphoric effects of a potent hallucination as a way to escape from stress.

What Does Teen Salvia Addiction Look Like?

  • The effects of salvia produce psychedelic-like changes to the senses, including vision, mood and body sensations, and a sense of detachment from and disconnection with reality. It’s important to be under supervision during a high, as the hallucinogenic potential for salvia is strong.
  • Though there’s not enough evidence of physical dependency developing with repetitive use, salvia’s short intense high makes it attractive to teenagers to use regularly, especially as a form of escapism.
  • Teens on salvia may act erratically as they perceive reality in a completely different way. Although the drug does not produce inherently “bad” highs, they may hurt themselves inadvertently, and preexisting feelings of anxiety or paranoia may lead to a nightmarishly bad experience.

Signs of Teen Salvia Addiction

Non-responsiveness during highs

Lying about drug use

Cognitive difficulties

Memory problems




Causes of Teen Salvia Addiction

An addiction to salvia is not caused by the drug but may be caused by a large number of other factors that increase a person’s likelihood to struggle with dependence issues.

Co-dependent mental health issues – hallucinogens may feel as though they provide a temporary reprieve from certain disorders, including major depressive disorder, and in the right setting they could help calm a person with anxiety issues. While no concrete research has been done with salvia, other known hallucinogens have been used to try and treat these conditions. However, misuse of the drug due to mental health problems can lead to a dangerous dependence, putting a teen at risk for putting themselves in harm’s way more than helping them with their mood disorder or anxiety issues.

Stress and pressure – external factors such as stress and pressure are normal in every day living, yet far too much of it can push a teen to resort to extreme measures including substance abuse as a way to cope with it all. Some teens may think of salvia as a legal way to experience a hallucinogenic reprieve from reality and take a break from their stress, repeating the behavior and causing other problems, including tardiness, memory issues, and possible cognitive deficits.

Genetic factors – some people are more likely to develop an emotional and/or physical dependence to a drug, while others can experiment with certain drugs for years without ever reaching a point where they truly go over into the realm of addiction. At this point, there is still no way to know how this happens.

Request a Call

  • We are here to assist you and answer your questions, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.

Teen Salvia Addiction Treatment | Paradigm Malibu


minute is typically how long it takes for salvia to kick in


or more of salvia users use other drugs, including addictive non-hallucinogens


of people aged 12 and above have used salvia

How Can I Help My Teen with Salvia Addiction?

Learn more about the drug and its effects – one way to help your teen is to better understand what they are going through. Their brand of addiction is likely to be different from that usually experienced by people who abuse dopaminergic drugs, unless your teen uses several different drugs and needs a polydrug treatment program. Salvia is a hallucinogen, similar to LSD, and while it can prove dangerous in locations or situations where one needs to be alert, the exact long-term effects are largely unknown. There’s more to learn about salvia and informing yourself can go a long way.

Help your teen find alternative ways to cope with stress –teens who get addicted to using non-addictive substances as a form of escape usually have a reason to escape from their lives, and it’s important to communicate with your teen and establish a relationship built on trust, wherein they can tell you about their problems and look towards you as a guide for helping them find the right solution. Healthy coping mechanisms involve doing things that remove pent up stress and improve a person’s mood and capabilities, rather than providing short-term relief and gratification while adding to an ever-increasing list of personal problems.

Explore recovery resources with your teen – after a residential treatment program at a place like Paradigm Malibu, recovery has often just begun. Helping a teen adjust to their environment can take time, and there are many drug recovery resources that can help in the transition. You could suggest to your teen to catch up and maintain contact with other recovering addicts, and help each other stay clean, or encourage them to try out other activities that might help them stay away from using again by providing an altogether different outlet.

What Types of Teen Salvia Addiction Treatment Are Available?

Like other forms of addiction, salvia addiction is largely treated through focused, patient-specific one-on-one therapy to address a teen’s underlying concerns and issues, while providing them and their parents with the resources to continue recovery in the future.


Medication cannot directly treat addiction but may be useful in cases where it’s important to treat an underlying cause or a series of serious co-dependent symptoms, including self-harm or depressive thinking prior to the use of hallucinogens. Low-risk medication such as SSRIs can help teens improve in terms of mood, thereby increasing the likelihood of success through a treatment plan. Getting through to a teen is half of a therapist’s job, and in cases where severe symptoms could lead to serious dangers, medication may be helpful in the short term.

Talk Therapy

The three most basic goals in therapy for addiction are to stop any further drug usage, help teens address present life stressors or possible triggers, and support teens to learn and implement healthy behaviors to support their overall well-being.

The first goal is to make sure teens stop using salvia. Therapists will support teens through whatever symptoms or experience they may have, throughout this process, while also beginning to address overall stresses, conflicts, and possible causes, in talk therapy sessions.  Though there may not be one specific stress that led to using the drug, there are often correlating stresses that provoke repetitive or continued use.

By helping teens to recognize these stresses, and address them in a more intentional, healthy way, teens can become empowered to handle future stresses, without returning to using. This aspect of talk therapy overlaps with healthy behaviors which therapists will help teens implement, which may include new ways of dealing with stress, ways of communicating, ways of dealing with relationships, and/or ways of unwinding and having fun.

Therapists work with teens during teen salvia addiction treatment to help them have the resources and knowledge needed to function in their lives without using salvia, even if the desire for it persists for a while longer.

Group Therapy

One-on-one therapy might make up the bulk of the progress made in addiction treatment for many, but some respond even better when treated as part of a group, through group therapy, regular group meetings, and resources designed to help former addicts interact with one another, share stories, and improve through their shared experiences.

Properly guided group therapy can help teens understand how others dealt with many of the same issues through a completely different perspective and take those learned lessons to apply them to themselves.

Teen Salvia Addiction Treatment at Paradigm Malibu

Paradigm Malibu’s locations each feature a trained staff dedicated to helping teen patients overcome their issues while surrounded by nature and various amenities. More than with some other disorders, teens who struggle with forms of substance or emotional dependence more often than not need a wide variety of activities to enjoy and engage in as a way to break free from an addiction.

A Safe, Drug-Free Environment

First and foremost, Paradigm offers a drug-free environment for teens to give their minds a break. It takes time for the brain to heal, adjust expectations, and get used to being clean. Choosing the right location to start recovery can go a long way, and Paradigm Malibu has everything you’d need.

Learning with Others

One-on-one therapy has its merits for addiction treatment, yet group programs often work wonders in helping recovering addicts practice appropriate social behavior and get used to speaking about their issues with others who might have a more accurate and sympathetic insight into a teen’s situation than most other people. Paradigm keeps groups small, to uphold the quality of the program, and give everyone the individual care and treatment they need.

I admitted my 14-year-old here earlier this year. I will admit that it had been a tough time for him since my ex-wife and I split. But that's no excuse for letting his stress and anxiety take control. He didn't like what was happening with himself, just as I didn't like it either. So we mutually decided to check out Paradigm San Francisco and it turned out to be the right choice for him. He really liked the therapists there; they treated him like a normal teenager and helped him work through his trouble.
- Travis B.

Frequently Asked Questions About Teen Salvia Addiction

How serious of a drug is salvia?

One of the problems with salvia is that there’s relatively little information and research on the drug especially regarding long-term effects.  Because of this, it’s an especially risky drug to use repetitively and teens are making themselves vulnerable to a number of negative health effects that, as of now, specialists don’t fully understand.

Are hallucinogenic trips dangerous?

Research suggests that in a controlled, and even therapeutic environment, hallucinogens may help treat several mental illnesses and could be used positively to deal with a variety of disorders. However, recreationally, there is a chance of an incredibly negative experience, especially when fear or anxieties are part of the mix.

Furthermore, outside of a professional setting, there is a greater likelihood of injury during a hallucinogenic trip, and there’s not enough evidence to suggest that salvia is a safe way to experience the effects of a hallucinogen, and there is very little to no evidence to suggest it would be largely therapeutic.

Ready to take the next step?

Call now for a free assessment with a counselor or to start the admissions process.
We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.
Call Now