For as long as there have been drugs, these substances have been referred to by nicknames. While most call drugs by their proper names — or scientific names if they are researchers or physicians — those who actually use such compounds do the exact opposite. This is intentional. Drug use and the industry which supports it are enigmatic by nature. Obviously, many drugs are not legal in Colorado, the United States, or anywhere else in the world. As such, anyone who partakes is motivated by self-interest to keep their use, and by extension the use of others, a secret. Otherwise, the drugs might be cut off at their source, or the individual themselves may face legal consequences. Neither option is particularly ideal. The drug trade is well hidden, which is not only a byproduct of concerted efforts, but also how it is spoken about.
Drug slang — or a vocabulary originating from the streets — helps maintain the down-low status quo. It is an unofficial, official coded language that separates the have from the have-no-clues. These include law enforcement officials, educators, parents, or anyone else keen on eavesdropping or discovering the illicit conduct of others. The slang itself is usually innocuous or gibberish to the untrained ear; the less suspicious or illegal the better. This rule of thumb extends to action verbs describing use behavior, too. For example, “powdering one’s nose” could have a completely innocent meaning relating to putting on makeup, or, it could signify snorting narcotics in the restroom. There is also something to be said for the playful-sounding terms tearing down barriers to entry. The word “meth” has an unappealing connotation. People who are on the fence as to whether to use the drug might be thrown off by the name and its reputation. However, meth also goes by “cotton candy.” Suddenly, the drug is much more docile and approachable. Who could possibly be afraid of a little cotton candy? Benign nicknames are in some ways a justification for experimentation.
If slang feels like another language, it’s probably because it is. Like all dialects, it requires a bit of education to understand the ins and outs and the intricacies therein. With a little practice, anyone can have a better handle on this elusive lingo.
Drug Slang for Drug Categories
Drug monikers can be based on just about anything: appearance, feelings, cultural or pop culture references, riffs on the drug’s actual name, and more. Substances fall within overarching drug classes, the majority of which are below. Some of these categories have distinctive nomenclature all their own, while others only have nicknames for the drugs that make up the said grouping.
Examples include: alcohol, barbiturates, Valium, Xanax, and other benzodiazepines
The names can be in reference to depressants overall or the individual drug-of-choice.
- Blue angels
Examples include: cocaine, methamphetamine, Adderall, and MDMA
Titles mostly refer to the drugs themselves, though the term “stimulants” does have one or two nicknames of its own. The most commonly used expression is “uppers.”
Examples include: fentanyl, heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and opium
As umbrella terms, “opioids” and “opiates” do not have corresponding street terminology. Any and all slang is actually denoting the different drugs.
Examples include: LSD, peyote, salvia, dextromethorphan, and PCP
Nicknames for hallucinogens refer almost exclusively to the drug in question rather than hallucinogens as a whole.
Examples include: nitrous oxide, gasoline, glue, and various aerosols
Both inhalants as a category and individual inhalant substances have nicknames.
- Air blast
- Bullet bolt
Drug Slang Names for Common Drugs
The following is by no means an exhaustive list of drug names. A complete catalog of such terms is simply impossible. After all, just like the English language, the street vernacular is fluid. New words emerge. Words change in meaning. Old words fall into obscurity. To make things even more complicated, some words are used for multiple drugs. There is no telling which labels will see everyday usage years down the road. But, as of today, the most common terms for a number of drugs can be found below.
Dank, Mary Jane, Reefer, Pot, Weed, Bud, Ganja, Herb, Trees, Chronic.
246, BHO, Badder, Budder, Butter, Dabs, Ear Wax, Errl, Honey Oil, SAP, Shatter, Wax
Dragon, H, White Lady, Scag, Brown sugar, Smack, Junk, Snowball, Dope, Horse.
Zannies, Bars, Z-bars, Handlebars, Ladders, Footballs, Xs, School bus, Totem poles, Planks.
Coke, Bump, Snow, Dust, Powder, White, Blow, Rail, Stash, Pearl.
Candy, Rocks, Nuggets, Hail, Sleet, Tornado, Ball, Base, Apple jacks, Dice.
Bupes, Boxes, Oranges, Sobos, Stops, Subs.
Dollies, Done, Phy, Fizzies, Juice, Jungle juice, Chocolate chip cookies, Maria, Metho, Pastora.
Hillbilly heroin, Blues, Kickers, Oxy, 512s, OC, Cotton, Beans.
Percs, Paulas, Roxicotten, Roxies, 512s, Blue dynamite.
Hydros, Norco, Tabs, Watsons, Loris, 357s, Dro, Bananas, Fluff.
Vic, Vicos, Vikes, Vees, Vitamin V.
Crank, Tweek, Speed, Tina, Crystal, Ice, Glass, Go Fast.
Dexies, Pep Pills, Speed, Christmas trees, Beans, Black beauties.
Schoolboy, Cody, Captain Cody.
Sauce, Juice, Hard stuff, Hooch, Suds, Liquid courage, Booze.
Apache, China white, Goodfella, TNT, Tango, Jackpot, Murder 8.
Dreamer, God’s drug, M, Miss Emma, Mister Blue, Morf, Morpho.
Acid, Doss, Blotter, Superman, Tab, Zen, Pane, Lucy, Golden dragon.
MDMA and Ecstasy:
X, E, Adam, Candy, Molly, Skittles, Beans.
Vs, Foofoo, Sleep away, Tranks, Vallies.
Angel dust, Ozone, Rocket fuel, Peter Pan, Embalming fluid.
Bloom, Cloud nine, Flakka, Scarface, Vanilla Sky, Stardust.
Big Chief, Blue Caps, Buttons, Cactus, Media Luna, Mescal, Mezcakuba, Moon, San Pedro, Topi
Aunti, Aunt Emma, Big O, Black, Black Russian (mixed with hashish), Chandoo, China, Chinese Molasses, Chinese Tobacco, Chocolate, Cruz, Dopium, Dover’s Powder, Dream Gum, Dream Stick, Dreams, Easing Powder, God’s Medicine, Goma, Gondola, Goric, Great Tobacco, Gum, Hocus, Hops, Incense, Joy Plant, Midnight Oil, Opio, Pen Yan, Pin Gon, Pin Yen, Pox, Skee, Toxy, Toys, When-Shee, Zero
Slang for Drug Combinations
Specific jargon exists for the combination of two or more drugs into a single product. Several examples and their characteristic ingredients include:
- A-bomb: marijuana and heroin
- Cocoa Puffs: marijuana and cocaine
- 8-ball: crack and heroin
- Candyflip: LSD and MDMA
- 3M: mescaline, mushrooms, and Molly
- Purple drank: codeine and promethazine
- Super X: methamphetamine and MDMA
- Octane: PCP and gasoline
- Bars: heroin and Xanax
The Importance of Understanding Drug Slang Words
Whatever the choice of words may be, the intent is clear: creating a façade and fooling the uneducated. Whether one is trying to decipher the use patterns of a loved one or making sure they are taking what they intend to, it is vital to comprehend this ever-evolving language. And, more importantly, to understand that this doesn’t have to be the language one has to speak forever — help is always available. For more information on drug slang terms, the DEA has compiled a thorough list of drug slang terms that they’ve received from law enforcement and open sources.
Getting Help for Substance Abuse
If it’s time to take the next step in recovering from substance abuse, contact us today. We have a proven track record of successful, caring treatment at our Palmer Lake, Colorado facility.
DEA. “Drug Slang Code Words.” Drug Enforcement Administration, 2017. Accessed October 29, 2021.
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