Listening to a conversation between teenagers can sometimes feel like you are listening to a different language. With constant influences from pop culture and social media, teenagers develop their own form of communication that can be difficult for parents and teachers to understand. It is no different when it comes to teen drug use. Teen drug slang and the use of drug codewords become part of a teenager’s regular communication.
It is important for parents, teachers and anyone who interacts with teenagers to understand drug slang in order to effectively monitor teen behaviors and interests and also to have open conversations with teens about drugs. Recognizing drug slang used by teens is crucial to identifying teen drug abuse and providing appropriate intervention.
Why is Slang Used?
The teenage years are a natural time for gaining independence and self-discovery. Part of establishing separation from parents leads teenagers to start to act and speak in ways that conceal their actions, behaviors or interests. It is natural for your teen to not tell you about their day-to-day life or to speak in ways that are hard to understand. The use of slang also makes teenagers feel more accepted by their peers.
Additionally, those selling drugs to teens will develop new names to make them more appealing to use by those naive to the dangers of drug use. Drug dealers use slang to break down the stigma of drug use and make it seem more normal.
It is important for parents to understand that the use of slang is common among teenagers, whether it be funny conversations about what happened in school or serious conversations about drug use. Knowing and recognizing common drug slang can help you sort through your teenager’s dialogues to identify comments or conversations that suggest teen drug use.
Street Names for Drugs by Drug Category
Using a guide for street names for drugs and slang names for drugs will give people a modern understanding of the seven categories of drugs that are most commonly abused by teenagers: cannabis, opioids/narcotics, inhalants, hallucinogens, stimulants, depressants, and dissociatives.
Other names for cannabis and cannabinoid products include marijuana, hashish, cannabis sativa and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Sativex). Teenage marijuana use is at its highest level in 30 years with more teens likely to use marijuana compared to traditional cigarettes. Recreational marijuana use by children and teenagers is not legal in any state. Parents need to be aware of the increasing prevalence of teenage use of marijuana and teen vaping practices that facilitate marijuana use.
While this is not an exhaustive list of slang for weed, parents should know these terms and be keen to conversations using them.
Common street names for cannabis include:
- Marijuana: pot, grass, weed, reefer, joint, ganja, bud, herb, Mary Jane, trees, green, smoke, sinsemilla, skunk and blunt
- Hashish: boom, hash, gangster, and hemp
Opioids include legal prescription products such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, tramadol and fentanyl and illegal products such as heroin and opium. Teen prescription drug abuse is alarmingly high, with 15.5% of teens reporting the use of a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription in their lifetime. Many teens falsely perceive abuse of prescription products as safe compared to the use of illegal substances. It is important for all opioid prescriptions to be stored in secure locations with limited access.
The misuse of opioids has a high risk for overdose that can cause serious injury or death. Recognizing slang names of opioids and limiting access of opioids to teens can lead to interventions that could potentially be life-saving.
Common street names for opioids and narcotics are:
- Codeine: cody, schoolboy and captain cody
- Morphine: Mary, M, Miss Emma, white stuff, Murphy, monkey, mojo, mud, and Mister Black
- Methadone: fizzies, amidone and dollies
- Fentanyl products: Apache, China girl, China white, friend, dance fever, goodfella, murder 8, dance fever, jackpot, TNT and tango and cash
- Oxycodone: Oxy, O.C., oxycet, oxycotten, Hillbilly Heroin, Roxy, Muchachas, Mujeres
- Hydrocodone: 357s, bananas, Droco, fluff, lemonade, lorries, scratch, veeks, vics, vikes and Watsons
- Hydromorphone: D, dillies, ceedle Candy, K4 and footballs
Inhalants are usually the first substances that teenagers abuse. They are more commonly used among younger adolescents compared to older ones. In 2018, 8.7% of 8th graders reported misuse of inhalants. Inhalants drugs are found in ordinary household or workplace chemicals which makes them easily accessible for teenagers.
Products used as inhalants drugs include:
- Solvents (paint thinners, gasoline, glues, organic solvents, nail polish remover)
- Gases (butane, propane, nitrous oxide)
- Aerosols (hair spray, spray paint, deodorant spray, vegetable oil sprays, fabric protector spray)
- Nitrites (isoamyl, isobutyl, cyclohexyl)
Even just one use of inhalants can cause harmful effects to the brain and body and can lead to death. Recognizing teenage inhalants use can lead to early intervention and prevention of further drug use and injury.
Common inhalants drugs street names include:
- Laughing gas, snappers, poppers, glue, huff, bang, kick, sniff, Texas shoeshine and whippets
Teen use of hallucinogenic drugs has been steadily declining since 2014. However, use still remains a concern. Hallucinogens include LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) and dimethoxymethamphetamine (STP).
While it may not be common to hear about teens on acid or teens and LSD use, it is still important for parents to be aware of popular slang for the drugs because overdoses on these substances can be deadly.
Common hallucinogens street names are:
- LSD: acid, cubes, blotted, yellow sunshine, microdot, blue heaven, A and windowpane
- Mescaline: cactus, buttons, mecs and peyote
- Psilocybin: magic mushrooms, shrooms, purple passion, mushrooms and little smoke
- Ecstasy/MDMA (hallucinogen and stimulant): adam, beans, blue kisses, bombs, chocolate chips, dancing shoes, love drug, love potion #9, moon rock and smacks
Stimulants are drugs that activate the central nervous system (CNS), making a person feel more alert and full of energy. CNS stimulants include legal prescription drugs such as Adderall (amphetamine), Ritalin and Concerta (methylphenidate) and illegal drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine. Adderall is used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is most prevalent among adolescents. Teens that are prescribed Adderall may end up misusing it or sharing it with friends.
While teen use of crystal meth (methamphetamine) has decreased over the past few years, it still poses a dangerous risk due to the high potential for addiction and the dangers of using the drug. More and more crystal meth has been mixed with the opioid fentanyl, which makes it cheaper to produce but even more dangerous to use.
Street names for stimulants are:
- Amphetamines: crosses, bennies, hearts, black beauties, LA turnaround, speed, drivers, uppers and truck
- Methamphetamines: meth, crystal, speed, chalk, ice, crank, fire, grass and go fast
- Cocaine: crack, coke, snow, blow, candy, toot, flake,C, bump, Charlie, rock and dust
- Crack cocaine: crack, rock, sugar block, Rox/Roxanne and base
Depressants are the opposite of stimulants in that they suppress the actions of the CNS and make a person feel relaxed and tired. CNS depressants include barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and sleep medications such as Ambien and Lunesta.
A benzodiazepine that is used by teenagers is Xanax. Xanax is commonly prescribed for treating anxiety. Teens may get Xanax from a friend or family member that is prescribed the drug, without being prescribed it themselves. Often times this will lead to the teen taking more of the drug than would be recommended, which can have dangerous effects.
Street names of depressants include:
- Barbiturates: Barbs, yellows, reds, phennies, red birds, tooies and yellow jackets Benzodiazepines: tranks, canday, downers and sleeping pills
- Sleep medications: roofies, Mexican valium, R2, Roche, forget-me pill, roofinol and rophies
- Xanax: Xanies, Zanbars, bars, bicycle handle bars, Zannies, Z-Bars, footballs, hulk, ladders, planks, school bus and sticks
Dissociative drugs cause distortion of what a person sees or hears, usually making the person feel detached from reality. One example of a dissociate drug that is commonly used by teens is dextromethorphan or DXM, which is found in over-the-counter cough medicine. The ease of access to cough medicine makes it an attractive choice for teens that parents should be aware of. Other examples of dissociative drugs are PCP, salvia divinorum and ketamine.
When dissociative drugs are obtained from cough syrups that contain DXM, slang words used to describe it often have to do with the cough syrup it’s found in. For example, teens may call it “Tussin” when someone drinks Robitussin. Other street names for dissociative drugs include:
- Dextromethorphan (DXM): Tussin, drex, dex, candy, vitamin D, DM, red devils, skittles, robo, rojo, velvet and poor man’s X
- PCP: angel dust, angel mist, animal tranquilizer, boat, hog, love boat and peace pill.
- Ketamine: special K, vitamin K, cat valium, breakfast cereal, horse tranquilizer, K and ket
- Salvia divinorum: salvia, magic mint, shepherdess’s Herb, Sally-D and Maria Pastora
Slang for Common Drug Combinations
People who start using one kind of drug are more likely to misuse other drug types or use drug combinations. This is especially true when a person has been using a drug for an extended period of time and has become tolerant to it or can’t achieve a high from it anymore. This is a major concern when it comes to teen overdose, as drug combinations are more likely to be fatal due to dangerous drug interactions and the increased likelihood of overdosing.
Some slang terms for common drug combinations are:
- Cocaine: Belushi, Bombita and Speedball (mixed with heroin); Space and Whack (mixed with PCP)
- Crack Cocaine: Dirty Fentanyl and Takeover (mixed with fentanyl)
- Heroin: Birria and Facebook (mixed with fentanyl); A-Bomb (mixed with marijuana)
- LSD: Black Acid, Wet, and Zoom (mixed with PCP)
- MDMA: Domex (mixed with PCP), Love Trip (mixed with mescaline)
- Opium: Black Russian (mixed with hashish)
- PCP: Alien Sex Fiend (mixed with heroin), Zoom (mixed with marijuana)
Tips For Parents
Talking to your teenager about drugs is very important. Many teenagers will be exposed to drugs at an early age, oftentimes before 7th grade. The sooner you talk to them, the more likely you will have an influence on them. Studies have found that youth with parents who are involved in their lives and monitored their activities are less likely to use alcohol and marijuana.
Learning slang words parents don’t know and listening for teen slang could help you identify if your teenager or their friends are using drugs. Some other tips for parents to prevent teen drug use are:
- Keep an open line of communication between you and your teen
- Listen to what they are saying and provide emotional support
- Be involved in their life, including spending time with them regularly
- Monitor medications that are kept in the house and limit access to them
- Familiarize yourself with your teen’s social circle including their friends and friends’ parents
- Set clear rules and be consistent in enforcing them
- Monitor their activities and encourage them to get involved in positive hobbies or sports
Finding Addiction Treatment for Your Teen
There are teen addiction treatment programs specifically designed to help teens who are misusing drugs or who have become addicted to a substance. If you fear your teen has developed a substance use disorder, Next Generation Village can help. With a drug rehab facility just for teens in Florida, Next Generation Village is ready to help Floridians or any teen ready to attend rehab in the Sunshine State. Contact a representative today to take the first step toward getting your teen the help they need.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.