For millennia, plants have been utilized for their medicinal and psychoactive properties.

From the well-known cannabis plant to lesser-known botanicals like kratom and peyote cacti, each plant has a unique combination of chemical compounds that interact with the human body—for better or for worse.

Among these botanicals, Salvia, particularly Salvia divinorum, stands out for its intense hallucinogenic effects. New York has yet to determine the prevalence of Salvia use in the state, but emerging trends suggest that it may be on the rise.

If you or a loved one is suffering from Salvia dependence or addiction, stick around. This article discusses everything you need to know about this plant, including Salvia addiction treatment in New York.

What Is Salvia?

Salvia (scientific name: Salvia divinorum) is an herbal plant species native to the Sierra Mazateca region of southern Mexico. It’s a member of the family Lamiaceae, also known as the mint family.


Also known as Sage of the Diviners due to its traditional use in divination, this plant is notorious for its hallucinogenic properties.

Though not necessarily rare in the sense of being endangered, it’s not as commonly found or readily available as other plants.

Not only does it have specific growing conditions but it’s also banned in at least 29 states, including the territory of Guam. New York and the rest of the US states have imposed restrictions on its sale or considering proposals for banning its use.

Salvia is sold under the following ‘street’ names:

  • Sally-D
  • Magic Mint
  • Diviner’s Mint
  • Shepherdess’ Herb
  • The Female
  • Incense Special
  • Maria Pastora
  • Purple Sticky

How Prevalent is Salvia Addiction in New York?

To date, there’s little to no data available on the prevalence of salvia addiction in New York. However, the state has long since been a focal point for psychedelic drug culture and experimentation.

New York consistently ranks among the top states in terms of overall drug use rates, including both traditional illicit drugs and emerging psychoactive substances.

The NYC Health website officially recognizes Salvia as a common hallucinogen, alongside LSD, PCP, and Psilocybin. As such, Salvia use is more than likely present (and perhaps even common) within the state.

Is Salvia Illegal in New York?

While it isn’t illegal to possess Salvia in certain counties within New York, the NY State Assembly Bill 2017-A3267 prohibits its public use and sale.

Certain counties, like Suffolk County, however, completely ban the possession, use, and sale of Salvia.

Violating these regulations can result in penalties ranging from fines to legal consequences, depending on the severity of the offense.

What Does Salvia Do?

Salvia is a hallucinogenic plant, meaning that it alters one’s perception, mood, and consciousness.

It contains a substance called salvinorin A, a dissociative hallucinogen that alters the opioid receptors in the brain.

When chewed or smoked, users may experience vivid and auditory hallucinations, detachment from self, reality, and surroundings, and extreme changes in mood and consciousness.

The onset occurs rapidly, typically within minutes after ingestion or inhalation. Some people have described its hallucinogenic effects somewhat similar to LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) or psilocybin mushrooms.

Alongside the aforementioned effects, users have also reported the following sensations:

  • Extreme confusion
  • Uncontrollable laughter
  • Visual alterations
  • Experiencing things more intensely, like feeling connected to objects
  • Disembodiment or detachment from one’s physical self
  • Losing a sense of self (forgetting who you are)
  • Hallucinations of flying, spinning, or twisting
  • Erratic or violent behavior

How Long Does the Hallucinations or ‘High’ Last? 

Hallucinations induced by Salvia last between 30 minutes to up to two hours, depending on factors such as the method of ingestion, quantity, and individual sensitivities.

Smoking produces rapid effects, whereas ingestion through methods like chewing or drops under the tongue results in slower but longer effects—typically 60 to 120 minutes. 

What Are the Side Effects of Salvia?

Salvia can be unpredictable and overwhelming, particularly in high doses and in individuals with underlying mental health conditions.

The side effects of Salvia is similar to that of other psychedelic drugs, including:

  • Nausea
  • Increased breathing
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulties with coordination and motor control
  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme paranoia

What Are the Health Risks of Using Salvia?

Research found that Salvia has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, and in small quantities can treat headaches, rheumatism, and gastrointestinal (GI) problems.

However, Salvia is primarily taken for its psychoactive effects rather than its medicinal benefits.

As with most recreational drugs, Salvia carries the risk of overuse and side effects when taken too much. There’s not much research about the long-term effects of abusing Salvia, but anecdotal reports display the following side effects:

  • Speech impediment
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulties retaining new information
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of motor color and muscle coordination
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Insomnia
  • Lung irritation
  • Brain damage
  • Increased risk of lung cancer (when smoked)

Salvia is especially dangerous for people with pre-existing mental health or medical conditions.

Salvia can exacerbate symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. It also poses risks to cardiovascular and respiratory health, which can be concerning for people with high blood pressure and respiratory disorders such as asthma.

Combining salvia with other drugs can likewise produce unexpected interactions with potentially dangerous (and fatal) effects.

What Does Salvia Addiction Look Like?

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists Salvia as a “drug of concern” due to its potent hallucinogenic properties.

Though it’s not as addictive as other psychedelic drugs (LSD, Ecstasy, magic mushrooms, etc.), it can still lead to psychological dependency and problematic patterns of use.

Signs of salvia addiction include:

  • Taking more and more of the drug to achieve the desired effects (tolerance)
  • Feeling a strong urge to use salvia, even when it’s not needed or appropriate
  • Prioritizing salvia use over important obligations such as school, work, or family responsibilities
  • Being unable to limit or stop using salvia, despite repeated attempts
  • Experiencing physical or psychological symptoms when attempting to stop using salvia (withdrawal)
  • Continuing the use of salvia even after experiencing negative effects on mental health, physical health, and relationships
  • Decreased interest in taking care of oneself (poor hygiene, bad eating habits, etc.)
  • Poor sleeping habits or being awake at odd times
  • Trouble remembering or concentrating on things
  • Increased social isolation
  • Lying about the extent of its use to friends, family, or healthcare providers

If you or someone you love is exhibiting several of these symptoms, contact professional help and support.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers free treatment referral and information services around the clock, so it’s a good place to start.

SAMSA can lead to you appropriate resources and support networks to address the issue.

You can contact SAMSA via the national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or TTY 1-800-487-4889.

How Does New York Treat Salvia Addiction?

New York recognizes drug addiction as a public health issue, and as such has implemented various initiatives to help sufferers get the treatment they need to overcome their addiction.

Here’s what to expect when treating Salvia addiction in NYC:


Medically-assisted detoxification is a common first step of treating Salvia addiction.

Detox involves gradually tapering the drug’s use overtime to minimize the severity of withdrawal symptoms, such as cravings, anxiety, agitation, and insomnia.

By allowing the body to adjust to lower dosages, it reduces the shock of the system and prevents complications associated with quitting cold turkey.

Medically-Assisted Treatment

In less severe cases of Salvia addiction, medical professionals administer medications to manage withdrawal symptoms. These medications help individuals safely and comfortably detox from the drug while minimizing the risk of relapse.

Commonly used medications include:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressants
  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone

Behavioral Therapy

Alongside detoxification and/or medically-assisted therapy (MAT), people struggling with salvia addiction benefit from behavioral therapy.

Two of the most commonly used behavioral therapies for treating addiction include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).

CBT addresses, identifies, and changes maladaptive thought processes and behaviors related to drug use, while DBT has a stronger focus on emotional regulation, acceptance, and interpersonal relationships.

CBT is generally recommended for less severe cases and typically lasts a few weeks at most. DBT takes on a more comprehensive approach, lasting anywhere between three to nine months. Severe cases may last several years.

Other effective behavioral therapies for salvia addiction include Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP).

MI helps people find motivations to make a positive behavior change. MBRP integrates mindfulness practices with CBT techniques to prevent relapse.

Peer Support Groups

Taking part of peer support groups is an important step to treating salvia addition.

New York has several dozen peer support groups, most of which are free.

Some of these groups are led by trained professionals, but many are facilitated by those who have personal experience with addiction and recovery.

The latter provides a supportive environment for people to share their experiences, struggles, and successes.

They don’t offer medical advice or professional therapy. In this way, people don’t feel pressured to follow specific treatment plans. Instead, they have the freedom to openly and honestly share their experiences with Salvia addiction and recovery, and what works for them.

To Summarize

Salvia is an herbal plant native to southern Mexico. It induces intense and short-lived hallucinogenic effects that alter mood and cognition, as well as perceptions of time, space, and self-awareness. It’s potentially addictive, especially when taken frequently or in high doses.

If you or a loved one is suffering from Salvia addiction, help is available. Treatment includes detoxification, medically-assisted therapy, behavioral therapy, and peer support.

Published on: 2024-04-07
Updated on: 2024-05-10