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Recognizing Teens Using Code Words for Drugs on Craigslist

Kid looking at various craigslist drug adds after learning code words  

Kids have inside jokes and lingo within their social groups. You may not understand all of it, but keep your ears perked to slang that may be code words for drugs. Craigslist has gotten a reputation as an online hotspot for drug sales. The sales pitches are often done in ways that seem surprisingly open.

There are hundreds of code words for illicit drugs in use today. It’s not realistic to try to know all of them, but recognizing some of the more common variations can help. Further, knowing some of these slang words could save the life of a teen. Uncovering a teen’s addiction can be a challenging and overwhelming experience. However, many kinds of treatment and support are available for teens and their families.

Why People Use Drug Code Words on Craigslist

Code words are commonly used to communicate about selling drugs without being as direct. Sellers and buyers alike have reasons for using misdirection:

  • Buyers and sellers want to protect themselves. Code words used online limit a seller and buyer’s time spent in front of people facilitating drug sales. This also prevents the seller from getting caught.
  • Online drug sellers have a bravado about being so visible. It may seem unwise to be so obvious, but police have difficulty tracking down all of the sales listings. Drug code words end up being visible mostly to the people that are looking to buy.
  • Buyers can have drugs fast if they don’t have a relationship with a dealer. As buyers, they can find what they want without having to know the right person. They can get their supplies quickly with an arranged meeting.

While a teen may like the convenience of buying drugs through a platform like Craigslist, there’s a major downside. The buyer assumes all the risk. Drug batches could be laced with dangerous chemicals such as fentanyl, or come in highly concentrated doses resulting in an overdose.

Most Common Drug Slang & What It Means

The following collection of drug slang names includes illicit drugs commonly used by teens. Unless cited otherwise with a link, all of the following code words are found in a DEA Intelligence Report on drug slang terms.


Benzodiazepines are prescribed as sedatives to treat panic attacks and insomnia, but many teens use them recreationally. Teens abusing Xanax may use the words:

  • Bars
  • Handle Bars
  • Bricks
  • Footballs


Ketamine is a sedative/tranquilizer and sometimes used as a date rape drug. Ketamine has become a popular teen drug at raves and music festivals. Some of the slang includes:

  • K
  • K hole
  • Special K
  • Vitamin K
  • Kit Kat


Methamphetamine is an illicit drug made with common over-the-counter products. Although teen crystal meth use is uncommon, some of the slang associated with meth and teens include :

Prescription Opioids

Although teen prescription drug abuse is on the decline, teens still may look to experiment with various painkillers. Prescription opioids can be described using various code words:

  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin) – Bananas, Dones, Dro, Fluff, Lorries, Scratch
  • Oxycodone (Oxycontin) – 30s, 40s, Kickers, Oxy, Roxy, Whites
  • Morphine – Dreamer, Monkey, Mister Blue, Morpho
  • Codeine – Lean, Dirty Sprite, Purple Drank, Sizzurp
  • Fentanyl – Apache, Blue Diamond, China White, Gray Stuff, Nyl, White Girl


Marijuana use in teens has steadily increased for years and has become the most popular drug among teens in the country. Teens smoking marijuana may use code words to hide use from parents:

  • 420
  • Grass
  • Dope
  • Hash
  • Reefer

Recognizing Craigslist Code Words for Drugs Could Save a Life

Staying on top of slang words could help a caring adult save the life of a teen caught up in substance misuse. Teens use slang to hide what they’re doing and to avoid getting caught. Many kids only think about the consequences of getting into trouble with the police or parents. Most don’t consider the emotional and physical harm caused by using these substances.

If a teen is familiar with the drug code words on Craigslist, they can find whatever kind of substance they want. Because the drugs can be shipped, obtaining them is quick and easy. One of the better ways for an adult to intercept this is to look for the code words in texts on the teen’s phone, as described in a news report from KTVU in Oakland, CA. An adult may also hear these slang words used in conversations among friends.

Teens from all walks of life use illicit drugs, more than most adults would suspect. These code words are out there and are often used openly. Illicit drugs are highly addictive, potent, and often mixed with unknown toxic chemicals. Even one use could cause severe harm and lead down a dangerous path of addiction. An adult that catches on to this lingo can intervene quickly. Fast action like this is crucial and can be lifesaving.

Help for Teens Addicted to Drugs

Code words can tip off adults to a larger problem with illicit drugs. Once the reality of the situation is uncovered, families can take the next step together toward treatment and recovery. For some drugs, detox services are necessary to safely manage withdrawal symptoms. In many cases, teen residential addiction treatment is the most appropriate type of treatment for teens.

Don’t wait any longer to get help for your teen. Contact us at Next Generation Village to explore our teen treatment options today.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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