Slang names exist for all types of drugs, from prescription medications to illegal substances. Sometimes people use this terminology to be discreet and hide their substance use from friends or family. It is important to recognize these terms, especially if you suspect that a loved one is abusing or misusing a substance. Early recognition can prevent drug abuse from evolving into an addiction.
Deciphering Drug Slang
Using drug slang allows people using substances to talk about them discreetly. Family members or friends of a potential user often find themselves playing detective, trying to decipher certain phrases, texts, or comments to better understand what is going on. It is important to recognize slang drug terms, especially if you suspect that someone may be using drugs. The recognition of drug use or addiction is the first step to recovery. Addiction is a disease, not a moral failing. With professional help, rehabilitation is possible.
Adderall is a stimulant prescription medication used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Adderall is also among the most popular study aid drugs, which some seek out to increase their focus and energy levels on exam days and for all-night study sessions. In recent years, it’s grown in popularity at parties. Many times people with prescriptions for Adderall share or sell their supply to others. Overuse can have dangerous consequences, especially for those who are susceptible to its stimulating effects.
Other names for Adderall include:
- Black Beauties
- Pep Pills
- Study Buddies
- Smart Pills
Synthetic cathinones, commonly known as “bath salts”, are powders intended to be added to bath water. However, they can be snorted, swallowed or injected to produce a powerful stimulating effect. Bath salts have gained in popularity in recent years as they are available in many convenience stores and tobacco shops. Bath salts are very dangerous, resulting in nearly 23,000 emergency room visits in the United States during 2011.
Other names for bath salts are often variants of different brand names, which include:
- Cloud 9
- Vanilla Sky
- White Lightning
- Meow Meow
- Pure Ivory
- Blue Silk
- Lunar Wave
- Wicked X
One of the most notorious illicit drugs, cocaine is a white powder that causes a short burst of energy and euphoria when snorted, smoked or injected. Cocaine highs fade quickly and may lead to cravings, turning casual cocaine use into a lasting addiction. About 5% of the United States population has tried cocaine at least once. Even short-term use can be deadly.
Cocaine street names include:
- Nose Candy
A popular way of abusing cough medicine known as “robotripping” causes a woozy type of high when higher-than-normal doses are taken. The active ingredient in several major cough syrups, dextromethorphan (or DXM), is responsible for the intoxicating effects and even chemical dependency in some cases. Codeine cough syrups, which are even more potent, were taken off shelves because of their potential for addiction and overdose. However, they are still available by prescription and may be abused as well.
Cough syrup and DXM street names include:
- Red Devils
- Poor Man’s Ecstasy
- Orange Crush
- Triple C
- Drank, Purple Drank or Sizzurp (combining cough syrup with soda)
Methamphetamine, or crystal meth, is a stimulant that’s nearly three times as powerful as cocaine with a high that lasts for hours followed by a debilitating “crash” and, for those looking to stop crystal meth use, a difficult drug detox experience. Developing meth addiction is common, even after the first use, and a laundry list of other serious health problems are related to crystal meth consumption.
Crystal meth street names include:
Ecstasy became the go-to club drug for many people. Used at parties, nightclubs, concerts and music festivals, ecstasy — the chemical MDMA, often mixed with other ingredients — causes a rush of dopamine and is known to make users feel more connected to one another.
Along with the many side effects of ecstasy (e.g., dehydration, impaired judgment, post-use depression), those who take ecstasy are vulnerable to many risks depending on what the drug is combined (or “cut”) with. Many ecstasy pills are far from pure MDMA and may be cut with anything from caffeine to methamphetamine.
Ecstasy slang includes:
- Hug Drug
- Love Drug
- Lover’s Speed
- Moon Rocks
- Happy Pill
- Dancing Shoes
- Scooby Snacks
Heroin goes by many names. This addictive drug is typically injected. Once it enters the body, heroin blocks the pain receptors in the brain, inducing a numb, euphoric state for about an hour.
Many times heroin addiction begins with the use of prescription opioid pain medications. When their prescription runs out and drug cravings persist, people may turn to heroin, which they can buy on the streets. However, heroin is much more potent and addicting than many prescription medications, so heroin overdoses are unfortunately common.
Heroin street names include:
- China White
- Black Tar
- Big H
- Brown Sugar
- Mexican Brown
Another way that people may get high is by breathing in gas, household cleaners, markers and other liquids with noxious fumes. The umbrella term given to these items is inhalants. When someone uses an inhalant, they will often empty some of the contents onto a rag or into a plastic bag, and then hold it to their face and breathe in. This process is known as huffing.
Depending on the chemical used, huffing usually causes lightheadedness and a very brief feeling of euphoria. But inhalants can also do serious damage to the brain, and regular use can lead to heart damage and other major health problems.
Inhalant street names include:
- Laughing Gas
- Moon Gas
- Air Blast
- Hippie Crack
- Poor Man’s Pot
Designed originally as a veterinary anesthetic, ketamine became an increasingly popular drug to abuse. This colorless liquid or white powder has a tranquilizing effect and causes both breathing and heart rate to slow down. The change sends users into a “K-hole,” where it becomes difficult to move. People use ketamine for a detached, out-of-body experience, and it’s become a common date rape drug for the same reason.
Ketamine street names include:
- Special K
- Vitamin K
- Green K
- Super C
- Super Acid
- Special La Coke
- Kit Kat
- Cat Valium
- Honey Oil
This infamous psychedelic drug has been popular since the 1960s and the Flower Generation. It’s typically sold on small squares of paper similar to postage stamps or absorbed into sugar cubes, which are then ingested. In its most basic form, LSD is a clear, odorless liquid.
Tripping on LSD is an unpredictable, often overwhelming journey. Users can lose control, becoming a threat to themselves or others, and have mental or emotional breakdowns following the experience.
LSD street names include:
- Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
- California Sunshine
- Yellow Sunshine
- Window Pane
- Battery Acid
- Looney Toons
Marijuana is one of the most popular drugs in the United States, and it’s growing in popularity with some states allowing legal, recreational use. When smoked, marijuana releases THC, a potent psychoactive chemical. This chemical relaxes people, heightens their senses and has mild, hallucinogenic effects. It also causes paranoia, impaired motor function and has the potential to lead to addiction.
Marijuana is commonly referred to as a “gateway drug,” because those who use the drug may develop additional substance problems later in life.
Slang for marijuana includes:
- Mary Jane
- Purple Haze
Psychedelic mushrooms can closely resemble mushrooms used in cooking and are grown in a similarly. Unlike mushrooms for cooking, however, the nearly 100 species of mushrooms contain psilocybin, a mind-altering chemical. People may trip on psilocybin mushrooms much like they would on LSD. Eating them can lead to an altered sense of space and time, hallucinations and euphoria. A bad trip can cause nausea and panic attacks.
While under the influence of hallucinogenic mushrooms, people may forget where they are and act out in ways they normally wouldn’t. Over the years, several people died from incidents occurring during mushroom-induced stupors.
Street names for mushrooms include:
- Magic Mushrooms
- Blue Meanies
- Liberty Caps
Extended-release oxycodone is a narcotic painkiller prescribed in slow-release pills that work over 12 hours. The most popular brand of oxycodone is OxyContin. Although the tablets are slow-release, some forms can be crushed into a powder and then snorted, injected, or swallowed, releasing the full amount and potency of the drug all at once. Although drug manufacturers have developed abuse-deterrent products, they are certainly not abuse-proof as people continue to figure out new ways to modify the drug to get the quickest effect.
OxyContin street names include:
- Oxy 80s
- Hillbilly Heroin
Ritalin is a relative of the drug Adderall. It is a prescription stimulant used in ADHD treatment. While some people legitimately require the use of the medication, it is commonly abused due to stimulating effects. Often it is used to increase focus on a specific task, like studying, but it may also be used socially or for weight loss.
Ritalin street names include:
- Vitamin R
- Diet Coke
- Kiddie Cocaine
- Kiddie Coke
- Kibbles and Bits
- Poor Man’s Cocaine
Similar to bath salts, many companies began selling synthetic marijuana in the 2000s. Packaged in small, colorful wrapping and given catchy names, these products bypassed drug laws by using a combination of legal chemicals that are sold as herbal incense. When smoked, the high from these chemicals mimics the high of marijuana. About 75 percent of users are adolescents. Synthetic marijuana side effects have led to serious health issues and death.
The United States government has steadily cracked down on stores that sell these products. Inpatient rehab options are available for this dangerous substance.
Slang and brand names for synthetic marijuana include:
- K2 Drug
- K3 Drug
- Black Mamba
- Yucatan Fire
- Bombay Blue
- Solar Flare
Vicodin is one of the most commonly used prescription opioid medications. This powerful painkiller is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. In 2014, the Drug Enforcement Administration reclassified it from a schedule III to a schedule II drug due to its widespread misuse and potential for addiction. More than 130 million Vicodin prescriptions are filled each year in the United States, and people with prescriptions often sell pills to people looking for a high. Along with OxyContin, Vicodin is a major contributor to the current opioid crisis in the United States.
Vicodin street names include:
- Idiot Pills
Benzodiazepines, including Xanax, are an addictive class of medications used to treat anxiety, panic, seizures, and insomnia. Xanax may cause some euphoria, but it’s often accompanied by sedation and drowsiness. Xanax can be difficult to stop using. Between 2005 and 2011, the number of emergency room visits related to Xanax or similar prescription drugs nearly doubled.
Drug slang for Xanax include:
- Zanbars or Xanbars
- Blue Footballs
- School Bus
- Bicycle Parts
- Yellow Boys
- White Boys
- White Girls
This dissociative, anesthetic drug drives users into disorientation and hallucinations. Not only can PCP lead to mental health issues such as severe anxiety, but it can also cause psychosis. Many suicides, murders, and accidental deaths have been attributed to PCP use. Though PCP is not as common as drugs like cocaine, millions of Americans have put themselves at risk by using this substance at one time in their lives.
PCP street names include:
- Angel dust
- Rocket fuel
- Love boat
- Embalming fluid
- Wet (a marijuana joint dipped in PCP)
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