Salvia divinorum, better known colloquially as simply salvia, is a relatively unknown drug that has become popular among young people in the United States. This drug has risen to prominence in large part due to YouTube videos showcasing the hallucinogenic side of the drug, prompting others to become interested in salvia experimentation. The legality of salvia is another critical issue, as it has yet to be considered a controlled substance by the United States government.

Salvia Basics

Salvia is a hallucinogenic drug with its roots in Mexico. It was discovered in 1939, but has not become well-known until recently. It can be consumed in many ways; it can be smoked in cigarettes or pipes, it can be drank in the form of juice, and it can be taken by chewing on the leaves.

As a hallucinogenic, salvia is not considered to be a party drug. It is more of a substance that is taken individually or in the company of a few close friends. The resulting hallucinations are short-lived, with some lasting just one minute in duration. However, these periods are said to be very intense, leaving the individual unable to interact with others or the surrounding world.

Youtube and Salvia

The YouTube videos that launched salvia into the mainstream show both the positive and negative sides of these hallucinations. The peer pressure that exists on the Internet can lead people to want to participate in this activity, regardless of how uncomfortable the outcome may be. Young people may also feel a need to upload their own videos of their experiences with salvia in order to keep up with their friends or other people on the Internet.


Salvia currently maintains a status as a drug about which parents aren’t educated, encouraging media outlets to educate people about the dangers of salvia use. These include salvia acting as a gateway to other drugs and the potential for people to drive after salvia use, which is highly dangerous because those who take salvia are usually unable to accomplish far less taxing tasks immediately after consuming the drug.

Another point of contention surrounding salvia is the legality of the drug. On a federal level, the drug is legal; however, it is being reviewed and may end up being considered an illegal substance at some point. In the mean time, twenty states have banned salvia, while two others have made it illegal for the drug to be sold to minors. Despite this, kids remain able to tell their parents that the drug is considered legal, increasing the probability of these parents overlooking the negative aspects of salvia.

Long-Term Effects

At present time, the long-term effects presented by salvia are unknown. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that laboratory rats exposed to salvia divinorum experienced a decrease in their memories and learning abilities, but these characteristics haven’t been proven to affect humans. Since salvia affects the brain, it is likely that negative effects will become known in the future.

Salvia is not considered an addictive drug in and of itself. However, people can certainly become addicted to the feelings experienced while consuming the drug. If this occurs, professional treatment should be sought in order to prevent the addiction from progressing beyond salvia use.