It’s also important for parents and guardians of children to keep up with the latest terms. Illegal drug use has continued to flourish among young people, and overdose deaths are on the rise. In recent years, the most drug use among teenagers and young adults occurs with so-called “club drugs,” like ecstasy and ketamine, and with illegally obtained prescription drugs, such as Vicodin and Adderall. However, use of more well-known drugs still occurs in almost every community, and heroin use in some areas has been increasing.
It can be hard to keep track of all the drugs of abuse out there, let alone all the slang terms for these substances. To make things easier, we’ve separated the most commonly used drugs into categories.
Opioids are any drug that act upon the opioid receptors in the brain, producing varying levels of pain relief and sedation. They include opiates, which are drugs that have been derived from the opium poppy, including morphine and codeine. This class of drug contains heroin as well as a long list of prescription drugs, such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Opana, and fentanyl. It’s been estimated that 2.1 million people in the US alone were addicted to prescription opioids in the year 2012, according to a report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
These drugs are highly intoxicating and addictive, including those given out by doctors. Due to the high potential for addiction and overdose, many governments have restricted the distribution and use of prescription opioids in an effort to curb abuse. Unfortunately, due to years of easy availability and the myth that prescription drugs are far safer than illicit ones, people are still able to obtain and abuse these substances without much trouble. Many young people report being able to find prescription opioids in family members’ medicine cabinets or simply being given the drugs by family and friends.
Because of this, it’s especially important to keep track of the slang terms of opioids. These include:
- Heroin: China white, white horse, dope, brown sugar, black stuff, tar, golden girls
- Codeine: cody, schoolboy, syrup, purple drank, doors, fours, lean, loads
- Vicodin: vikes, vikos, hydros, tabs, lorries, Watsons, 357s,
- OxyContin: ox, oxy, OC, kickers, blues, hillbilly heroin, 40s, 80s
- Fentanyl: China girl, China town, tango and cash, king ivory, murder eight, friends, goodfellas, great bear, dance fever, Apache, He-Man, jackpot, perc-a-pop
- Opana: Pink O, Mrs. O, the O bomb, pink, pink lady, pink heaven, blue heaven, blues, new blues, oranges, octagons, stop signs
Slang names for drugs often come from their shape, consistency, or color. Heroin often comes in a powder and may be white or brown, or it may come in a sticky black substance, hence the name tar. Opana often comes in an octagon-shaped pill. Its color depends on the dose, so it can be referred to by multiple different color names.
When most people think of illegal stimulant drugs, they think of cocaine, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine (meth). Stimulants often overlap with club drugs, but ecstasy and similar uppers can be found in another category. There are also prescription stimulants that can be abused, particularly those prescribed for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) like Ritalin and Adderall. Abuse of these medications is on the rise among young students as they attempt to keep up with increasing work loads. Just like with prescription opioids, nonmedical use of these drugs is dangerous and comes with the risk of addiction and overdose.
Slang terms for stimulants include:
- Cocaine: blow, coke, base, powder, line, bump, rail, snow, stash, dust, candy, flake, white, pearl, cola, baseball, yeyo
- Meth: speed, crank, trash, garbage, dunk, gak, chalk, cookies, tweek, uppers, no doze, rocket fuel, scooby snacks, pookie, white cross, go-go-juice, go fast, Christina, Tina,
- Ritalin: rids, ritties, R pop, vitamin R, R-ball, kiddy coke, diet coke, jif, skippy, pineapple, skittles, study buddies, smart drug, smarties, west coast
- Adderall: red dexies, red pep, blue pill, black beauties, bennies, beans, copilots, wake-ups, lid poppers, truck drivers
A recent study undertaken at the University of Maryland found that 35.6 percent of students in the country have used prescription stimulants for nonmedical purposes at least once in the lifetimes. Additionally, 10.8 percent reported using a drug like Ritalin or Adderall like this in the past year.
Stimulants are often named for their effects. Uppers is an old term that is unlikely to be used by someone attempting to hide what’s being discussed, but it describes what stimulants do. Drugs like meth give people a burst of energy, leading to names like rocket fuel and go-go juice. Adderall has come to be associated with truck drivers due to the fact that many of these individuals end up taking prescription stimulants to keep themselves awake on the job.
When it comes to Ritalin and Adderall, names like kiddy coke and diet coke refer to the fact that they have a similar effect to cocaine, but are considered to be less intense and less dangerous. However, these drugs are not safe to abuse, no matter what your age.
The term club drugs came about due to the fact that certain drugs are popular for abuse at dance parties, raves, and nightclubs. These drugs tend to enhance the party experience, with mild hallucinogenic effects that intensify the perception of lights, colors, sounds, and textures. They can also give people a heightened sense of empathy and increase sociability while lowering inhibitions. This tends to make users very friendly. They often have stimulant effects, but may produce depressant effects at higher doses.
Club drug slang terms include:
- MDMA (ecstasy): X, E, E-bombs, Molly, malcolm X, adam, love drug, hug drug, candy, beans, sweets, egg rolls, doves, disco biscuits, dancing shoes, happy pills, thizz, vowels
- Ketamine: K, special K, super K, vitamin K, kit kat, cat valium, cat tranquilizers, purple, jet
- GHB: G, Georgia homeboy, grievous bodily harm, scoop, liquid ecstasy, water, salty water, everclear, soap, easy lay, fantasy, cherry meth, G-riffick
- Rohypnol: roofies, roopies, ruffies, rope, ropies, rophy, rib, roach-2, circles, Mexican valium
Ketamine is often used by veterinarians to sedate animals like dogs and cats, which is why it’s sometimes called cat valium or something similar. GHB and Rohypnol are unfortunately sometimes used as “date rape drugs,” put in people’s drinks without their knowledge in order to sedate them and lower their inhibitions for the purposes of sexual assault. This has led to slang names like easy lay.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that around 15 percent of all Americans over the age of 12 have used a hallucinogenic drug at least once in their lifetimes. Hallucinogens are less likely to be addictive than many other drugs, but they can still be dangerous, especially if they’re taken in high doses and/or without supervision. People have reported negative experiences on these drugs, commonly referred to as bad trips. It’s possible to see terrifying things under the influence of hallucinogens that can cause intense fear and panic or to fall into deep depressions that can cause suicidal urges.
Common street names for hallucinogens include:
- Marijuana (cannabis): weed, pot, grass, ganja, Mary, Mary Jane, MJ, kiff, hay, hash, bud, cheeba, flower, stems, skunk
- LSD: acid, L, Lucy, dots, blotter, gel, hawk, fry, purple haze, tab, trips, flash, cheer, blaze, stars, pyramid, rainbows, smilies, superman, window
- Psilocybin mushrooms: magic mushrooms, mushies, shrooms, magics, caps, buttons, boomers, musk, silly putty, simple simon
- DMT: DET, AMT, 45 minute psychosis, fantasia, Dimitri, businessman’s trip, businessman’s special
With marijuana, slang terms for the general drug can often be confused with the names for the many different strains of the plant. Especially in areas that have legalized either the medical or recreational use of it, you may hear many odd names for marijuana that actually refer to specific types that are marketed based on their varying effects. Popular strains include blue dream, banana kush, and tangerine power. It may be worthwhile to research any new terms you hear that sound strange to see if it’s a new strain of marijuana or if it’s a new term for a more dangerous drug.
Using a slang term for a drug doesn’t automatically mean that a young person is using it. Many teens use trendy terms simply to appear cool. However, sudden and regular use of these terms coupled with other strange behaviors could be an indication of drug use.