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The Dangers of Synthetic Marijuana and Salvia

By on Jan 2, 2014 in Blog |

a photo of a marijuana joint being lit - the dangers of synthetic marijuana and salvia - Victory Addiction Recovery Center - drug abuse treatment center in lafayette louisiana
Currently ranked as the third most popular mood-altering substance among high school students, “synthetic marijuana” refers to a group of products that consist of dried herbs and plant material that has been sprayed or soaked in chemicals. While the structures of these chemicals can mimic those of psychoactive substances in marijuana, they come from a laboratory rather than from a natural source. For this reason they are classified as “designer drugs.” They are often much more powerful than natural psychoactive substances with a wider range of physical and mental effects, which can sometimes be deadly.

Packets and pouches of synthetic marijuana are typically labeled “Not For Human Consumption” and are often sold as incense or potpourri. It is the drug of choice for those who want to get high but are concerned about their urine testing positive for drugs. This is because the synthetic cannabinoids found in synthetic marijuana are not detectable by conventional drug testing procedures. For this reason, specific tests to detect these substances are becoming much more common to drug screening.

There can be some very serious consequences, however. Psychosis with hallucinations and/or paranoia can persist for weeks following abuse, and in some cases can even be permanent. Other reported effects include agitation, violent aggression, disorientation, chronic depression, extreme anxiety, and even death.

Because of these obvious dangers, governmental authorities have been making attempts to eliminate synthetic marijuana. Unfortunately, it is difficult to restrict because many synthetic marijuana manufacturers modify the chemical ingredients and packaging on a regular basis to keep products from being properly regulated. Without this standardization, regulation, or official testing, it is impossible for users to know exactly what they are smoking or what kind of terrible side effects could occur.

Salvia, much like synthetic marijuana, can be commonly purchased in several jurisdictions as only about half the states have banned or regulated it in any way. It is a soft-leaved, hallucinogenic plant in the mint family. For centuries it has been used as a medicinal herb in Mexico. Physical effects of salvia include dizziness, nausea, and a loss of coordination. The mental effects vary by the amount of the drug absorbed and may include intense hallucination, a sense of traveling through space and time, and total dissociation from reality. This means that consuming this drug can leave the victim vulnerable for extended periods of time.

It’s not difficult to see how dangerous these products can be. Ultimately, the worst hazards from these drugs are the lasting physical and mental effects as well as the vulnerability of the user after consumption. Keeping the public well informed on these products as well as the extreme risks and dangers they pose is crucial in the prevention of its use. If you or someone you love is abusing synthetic marijuana or salvia and needs help, contact our intake coordinators here.

-Andrea Rayburn

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