Huffpost
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Dr. Howard Samuels Headshot

Why Salvia Should Be Taken Seriously as a Dangerous Drug

Posted: Updated:

As families come together during the holidays it's as good a time as any to talk to our kids about alcohol and drug abuse. We as parents have a responsibility to educate our children that there is no such thing as recreational drug use and that getting drunk and loaded is not the appropriate reward for turning 18 or 21.

We need to let our young people know that becoming an adult is not some rite of passage into it being okay to drink and drug.

The recent video of Miley Cyrus -- presumably smoking salvia out of bong a few days after her 18th birthday, sparked a rise in sales of salvia at head shops and Internet sites all over the nation. I find this a horrific example of our celebrity role models having a negative influence over our kids.

There is something fundamentally wrong with this and frankly, I find it quite scary for Miley Cyrus to now be the post child for this dangerous hallucinogenic. I am not surprised though, as our culture has morphed into a "get high at all costs" society.

Until Miley's laughter and chatty gibberish was leaked on a video, salvia, an herbal drug which is smoked like marijuana, had flown under the radar with only 15 states having made it an illegal substance. Until just a few years ago the herbal drug was legal in California.

I testified before legislators in Sacramento as to the dangers of this drug which creates hallucinations and loss of body control much like epileptic fits. Alongside me before the Senate Public Safety Commission was the mother of a Delaware teen who committed suicide as a result of repeated abuse of salvia. As Kathleen Chidester wept over the death of her 17-year-old son, an honor student -- who had no history of drug use before smoking salvia -- there were no lingering doubts for lawmakers that the substance should be banned.

A small victory for it now to be illegal for minors to purchase salvia, so government leaders need to pick up the pace on this fight. Salvia is another gateway drug to getting loaded, much like ecstasy was years ago.

When are we as Americans going to come out of our haze of denial and address the fact that our nation is addicted to booze and narcotics?

At my drug rehab center, I am on the front lines of this epidemic. Again and again, I see countless young people's lives destroyed over the alcoholism epidemic. In my office and on my telephones are families sobbing over their child in the emergency room clinging to life or being arrested for the third or fourth time for driving drunk or possessing drugs illegally.

Something needs to be put in place with our film, television and recording studios where if a star is going to have this mantle of being a role model then a moral code of ethics has to be adhered to. Teenage and child actors, singers and athletes should be held to an exemplary behavior and if they step out of line then there should be consequences.

In Hollywood fame and fortune can be a curse and celebrities are not an alien race. They have feelings. They get mad, sad and angry just like you and me. And they too want to escape into a drug or alcohol induced La La land with enablers and handlers who so want to be around them for their own ego and greed that they actually harm them.

Let's tell our kids this holiday season that while life isn't a Christmas fairytale it can be experienced with the joy of living spiritual principles of service and selflessness as opposed to self-centered instant gratification. Sobriety is the truly altered state, feeling our feelings is not going to kill us, but drugs and alcohol can.

Around the Web

Salvia Effects: What is Salvia? Miley Cyrus Herb -- Classified As ...

Adi Jaffe, Ph.D.: Salvia: Miley Cyrus Brought This 'It' Drug Into ...

So that's Miley Cyrus bong-smoking salvia -- and what is salvia ...

Salvia, Miley Cyrus Bong Hit Video and "So Undercover" - National ...