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Understanding Drug Slang

Loved ones of a teen frequently find themselves playing detective, trying to crack the code to teen sentiments or texting terms. If you suspect your teen is taking drugs, the investigative work only becomes more difficult because kids are actively covering their tracks. What looks like a soda can may in fact be a hiding place for ecstasy. When they talk about getting some “brown sugar,” do they mean the baking supply or cocaine? Drug slang allows teens to discuss drugs in plain sight without raising any red flags at school or at home.

Are They on Drugs or Just Being Teens?

If you discover your teenager using drugs think your teen may be using drugs, staying educated on the most current slang is essential to catch the substance abuse problem in advance. And if it does turn out your teen has an addiction to drugs or alcohol, this early discovery will perform a key part in getting your loved one the assistance they require right away.

Drug dependency is a disease, not an moral shortcoming or the outcome of bad parental guidance– recovery requires professional teen drug treatment. The longer it goes without treatment, the more difficult treatment becomes.


Intended to assist children with attention disorders, Adderall is now the preferred choice of prescription drug abuse among teens. Adderall is also among the most well-known study aid medications, which teens find to increase their concentration and stamina levels on test days and for all-night study groups. In recent years, it has been growing in level of popularity at social events.

In 2018, around 7.5% of high school seniors in the U.S. used Adderall, with only 20% of these kids getting it from their doctors. In some cases, kids simply know where to buy Adderall on the street (i.e. getting it from a dealer or “trader”) or where to score it from a friend or family member. Nearly 42% of high schoolers say it’s very easy to obtain Adderall or similar pick-me-ups like adderall.

Additional names for Adderall include:

  • Addys.
  • Uppers.
  • Beans.
  • Black Beauties.
  • Pep Pills.
  • Speed.
  • Dexies.
  • Zing.
  • Study Buddies.
  • Smart Pills.

Bath Salts

Marketed as “bath salts” or cleaning compound to thwart drug laws, these are artificial over-the-counter powders with a powerful amphetamine-like stimulating side effect. Bath salts have become popular by means of word of mouth among teens and are also offered in gas stations and convenience stores.

It didn’t take long for bath salts to transform into a nationwide problem, as they sent thousands of kids to the emergency room with scary and in some cases permanent side effects , although treatment options for this harmful substance are available. In 2018 alone, almost 23,000 ER visits in the U.S. were related to bath salts abuse.

Other names for bath salts are typically variations of different brand names, such as:

  • Cloud 9.
  • Vanilla Sky.
  • White Lightning.
  • Bloom.
  • Scarface.
  • Bliss.
  • Drone.
  • Energy-1.
  • Meow Meow.
  • Pure Ivory.
  • Blue Silk.
  • Stardust.
  • Lunar Wave.
  • Wicked X.


Among the most notorious illegal drugs, cocaine is a white powder that causes a quick burst of energy and euphoria when snorted, smoked or injected. Cocaine highs vanish quickly and leave users craving another more, often turning informal teen cocaine abuse into a long lasting addiction.

Almost 5% of 12th graders in the U.S. have done cocaine at least once. Your teenager may also be more likely to seek out cocaine if they’re struggling in school, 35% of “F” students have tried it at least once, and 13% have used it more than 40 times. Cocaine causes thousands of fatalities annually and is one of the most addictive drugs second to heroin, virtually 17% of teenagers who give it a try become dependent on cocaine and will use it regularly.

Other Cocaine terms include:

  • Coke.
  • Blow.
  • Rock.
  • Crack.
  • Yayo.
  • Snow.
  • Sniff.
  • Sneeze.
  • White.
  • Nose Candy.
  • Bernice.
  • Toot.
  • Line.
  • Dust.
  • Flake.

Cough Medicine

Teens have gravitated towards “robotripping,” a wobbly type of high caused by drinking cough syrup. The active component in several major cough syrups, dextromethorphan (or DXM), is responsible for the intoxicating effects, and even a chemical dependency in some cases. Codeine cough syrups, which are even more powerful, were recently removed from the shelves due to how dangerous they are. Teens can nonetheless get them from someone with a prescription medication.

More than 4% of high school seniors reveal misuse of cough medicine, whether in syrup, tablet, powder or capsule form. Which results in ER visits and even death in many cases.

Cough medicine and DXM street names include:

  • Dexies.
  • Drex.
  • Robo.
  • Rojo.
  • Red Devils.
  • Poor Man’s Ecstasy.
  • Orange Crush.
  • Tussin.
  • Velvet.
  • Triple C.
  • Drank.
  • Purple Drank or Sizzurp (combining cough syrup with soda).

Crystal Meth

Methamphetamine, or crystal meth, is a stimulant that’s almost three times as powerful as cocaine with an effect that lasts for hours followed by an incapacitating comedown (or “crash”) and, for those looking to get clean, a complicated drug detox. Meth addiction is not uncommon even after the first use, and a laundry list of other major health problems are related to crystal meth.

According to a recent study, one in 33 teens in the U.S. are experimenting with the drug beginning at an average age of 12. One forth of teenagers say it would be simple to score meth, and 10% say they’ve been given it at least once.

Crystal meth street labels include:

  • Crystal.
  • Meth.
  • Cristy.
  • Tina.
  • Crank.
  • Crissy.
  • Tweak.
  • Glass.
  • Ice.
  • Shards.
  • Go.
  • Whizz.
  • Chalk.


Ecstasy has turned into the go-to club drug for teens and adults, used at social events, nightclubs, concerts and music carnivals. Ecstasy, the chemical MDMA, often mixed with other components, causes a surge of dopamine (a chemical that regulates happiness and related sensations) in the brain, and is known to make individuals feel more connected to each other.

Within the last year, in excess of 4% of high school seniors have taken the substance. Along with the many side effects of ecstasy (e.g. dehydration, reduced judgment, post-use depression), teenagers who consume ecstasy are vulnerable to countless untold risks depending on what the drug is combined (or “cut”) with. Only 20 – 25% of ecstasy pills are pure MDMA. The rest are cut with everything from caffeine to meth amphetamines.

Ecstasy slang includes:

  • X.
  • E.
  • XTC.
  • Molly.
  • Rolls.
  • Hug.
  • Hug Drug.
  • Love Drug.
  • Lover’s Speed.
  • Beans.
  • Adam.
  • Clarity.
  • Moon Rocks.
  • Happy Pill.
  • Dancing Shoes.
  • Scooby Snacks.
  • Candy.


Heroin goes by many names. This extremely addictive drug is usually applied by injection with a needle. When it goes into the body, heroin obstructs the pain receptors in the human brain, causing a numb, euphoric state for a period of hours.

Only about 1% of high school seniors have attempted heroin, but each teen who explores the drug is at risk for the drug’s many severe side effects. Between 2002 and 2018, heroin use in the U.S. sky-rocketed 63%. In 2018 over 21,000 Americans sought treatment for heroin addiction.

Heroin alternative terms include:

  • H.
  • Smack.
  • Dope.
  • China White.
  • Horse.
  • Skag.
  • Junk.
  • Black Tar.
  • Big H.
  • Brown Sugar.
  • Mud.
  • Dragon.
  • Boy.
  • Mexican Brown.
  • Thunder.
  • Skunk.
  • Scag.


Among the most resourceful ways that teens get high is by huffing in gas, household cleaners, markers and other random objects with harmful fumes. The umbrella phrase given to these things when they’re used to get high, is inhalants. When a teen abuses an inhalant, they will often drain some of the contents onto a dust-cloth or into a plastic bag, and then secure it to their face and breathe in, called huffing.

Almost 6% of U.S. high school seniors confess trying inhalants in their lifetime, and 2% have gotten high from them in the last month. Depending on the chemical they use, huffing will typically cause light-headed delusions and a very short feeling of euphoria. But inhalants can also do severe damage to the brain, and regular use can lead to heart damage and other major health issues.

Inhalant street names include:

  • Huff.
  • Poppers.
  • Whippets.
  • Nitrous.
  • Laughing Gas.
  • Moon Gas.
  • Snappers.
  • Bold.
  • Rush.
  • Air Blast.
  • Glad.
  • Hippie Crack.
  • Oz.
  • Discorama.
  • Whiteout.
  • Poor Man’s Pot.


Designed as a veterinary anesthetic, ketamine has come to be an progressively popular drug with teens. This uncolored liquid or white powder has a sedative effect, and results in both breathing and heart rate to slow down. This sends individuals into a “K-hole,” where it becomes difficult to move. Teens utilize ketamine for a detached, out-of-body experience, and it has become a common date rape drug for the same reason. In the past year, almost 3% of 12th graders in U.S. have used ketamine, and people aged 12 – 25 account for 74% of ER visits associated with ketamine misuse.

Ketamine street names include:

  • K.
  • Ket.
  • Special K.
  • Vitamin K.
  • Green K.
  • Super C.
  • Super Acid.
  • Special La Coke.
  • Jet.
  • Purple.
  • Kit Kat.
  • Cat Valium.
  • Honey Oil.


This notorious psychedelic drug known for its 12-hour “trip” filled with hallucinations has been well-known with teens since the 1960’s and the Hippy Generation. It’s typically sold on small squares of paper comparable to postage stamps or soaked up into sugar cubes, which are then consumed. In its most basic form, LSD is a transparent, odorless fluid. Last year, nearly 3% of high school kids took acid, and approximately 5 million Americans aged 12 – 25 have experimented with LSD in their lifetimes.

Tripping on acid is an unpredictable, frequently frustrating experience. Individuals can become incoherent, becoming a threat to themselves or others, and have psychological and/or emotional breakdowns following the experience.

LSD street labels consist of:

  • Acid.
  • L.
  • Lucy.
  • Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
  • Cid.
  • Tabs.
  • Doses.
  • Blotter.
  • California Sunshine.
  • Yellow Sunshine.
  • Window Pane.
  • Battery Acid.
  • Dots.
  • Looney Toons.
  • Superman.


The green, pungent leaves of the cannabis plant, referred to as “marijuana,” “weed” and a host of other names, preserves a stronghold as the most prominent illicit drug among teens in the USA. When smoked, marijuana releases THC, a potent psychoactive chemical. This makes the individual feel relaxed, heightens their senses and has a mild hallucinogenic outcome. It also causes paranoia and impaired motor function and is highly habit forming.

Cannabis is typically referred to as a “gateway drug,” but that information has been dis-proven by many recent studies in the last few years as it becomes more socially acceptable to use in recreational situations. More than a third of 12th graders and 12% of 8th graders mentioned using it in the last year. Kids smoking weed typically do better in school and are known to have faster brain functionality than those that do not in most situations. Breaking the recent stigma that has been forced into the public mind-set of this substance. 

Slang for marijuana includes:

  • Weed.
  • Pot.
  • Hashish.
  • Hash.
  • Green.
  • Bud.
  • Grass.
  • Trees.
  • Reefer.
  • Herb.
  • Mary Jane.
  • Ganja.
  • Hemp.
  • Dope.
  • Chronic.
  • Kush.
  • Sinsemilla.
  • Purple Haze.


Psychedelic mushrooms can very closely look like mushrooms used in cooking, and are grown in a similar way. Compared to mushrooms for cooking, nevertheless, these nearly 200 species of mushrooms are composed of psilocybin, a mind-altering chemical. Teens may trip on psilocybin mushrooms just like they would on LSD. Consuming them can lead to an altered awareness of space and time, hallucinations and euphoria, along with nausea and panic attacks.

While intoxicated on hallucinogenic mushrooms, kids can fail to remember where they are and act out in ways they normally would not. Throughout the years, several teens have died from incidents occurring during mushroom-induced stupors.

Street names for mushrooms consist of:

  • Magic Mushrooms.
  • Shrooms.
  • Boomers.
  • Caps.
  • Mushies.
  • Buttons.
  • Magics.
  • Blue Meanies.
  • Liberty Caps.
  • Cubes.
  • Liberties.


Oxycodone is a painkiller prescribed in slow-release tablets that work over a duration of 12 hours, the most popular brand of which is OxyContin. The prescription triggered a wave of teen occurrences in the 2000’s, including many cases of addiction and death. Even though the pills are slow-release, teens crush them into a powder and snort them, discharging the full amount and potency of the drug all at once. As this trend ignited, users began spending upwards of $80 for a single pill. To counteract the growing appeal of the drug, in 2013, the FDA authorized a variant that couldn’t be crushed into powder. 

The drug continues to be a danger to adolescents, and as many as 1 in 20 admit to giving it a try. Approximately 75% of people addicted to oxycodone inevitably develop a heroin habit, as heroin delivers a similar feeling for a fraction of the cost.

OxyContin street names consist of:

  • Oxy.
  • OC.
  • O.
  • Ox.
  • Oxycotton.
  • Oxy 80s.
  • Blue.
  • 512s.
  • Kickers.
  • Killers.
  • Hillbilly Heroin.


Ritalin is a slightly less common, but equally hazardous relative of the drug Adderall. Teens misuse it as a study aid drug to get an advantage when composing papers and cramming for tests. It’s most commonly recommended for teens with ADHD. Most teens get their Ritalin from relatives, classmates, or from their doctors after fabricating the signs of ADHD. A 2018 report revealed that around 5 million students in the U.S. have misused Ritalin or Adderall, a 33% rise from 2013.

In addition to helping them with school work, some even use the drug to reduce weight. Once they start taking the drug though, the risk of addiction is incredibly high. Overdoses, along with a number of other serious health issues, are not unheard of.

Ritalin street names include:

  • Vitamin R.
  • R-ball.
  • Rids.
  • Rit.
  • Diet Coke.
  • Kiddie Cocaine.
  • Kiddie Coke.
  • Skippy.
  • Pineapple.
  • Kibbles and Bits.
  • Skittles.
  • Smarties.
  • Poor Man’s Cocaine.

Synthetic Marijuana

Similar to bath salts, a variety of companies began selling synthetic marijuana in the 2000’s. Packaged in small, colorful wrapping and given catchy names, these items bypassed drug laws by using a mishmash of legal chemicals and by being sold as “herbal incense.” When smoked, the high from these chemicals imitates the high of marijuana. From 2012 til 2018, 11.3% of high schools seniors used or tried it at least once. In some cases, after just a single use, synthetic marijuana side effects have led to major health issues or even death.

The U.S. government have progressively been punishing stores that sell these products. Inpatient rehab options are offered for this dangerous drug.

Slang and brand names for synthetic marijuana include:

  • Spice.
  • K2.
  • K2 Drug.
  • K3 Drug.
  • Bliss.
  • Black Mamba.
  • Yucatan Fire.
  • Skunk.
  • Genie.
  • Bombay Blue.
  • Solar Flare.
  • Zohai.
  • Joker.
  • Kush.
  • Kronic.


Vicodin is the second-most preferred prescription drug among 12th graders. Around 10% use it, with 5% using it for non-medical reasons. This super strong painkiller is a blend of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, and in 2014, the DEA reclassified it from a schedule III to a schedule II drug because of its extensive abuse and potential for addiction. More than 130 million Vicodin prescriptions are filled each year in the U.S., and people with prescriptions often sell pills to people trying to find a fix.

Vicodin street names consist of:

  • Vikes.
  • Vics.
  • Vicos.
  • Hydros.
  • Lorris.
  • Fluff.
  • Scratch.
  • Norco.
  • Idiot Pills.
  • Tabs.
  • Watsons.
  • 357s.


Curious teens may abuse the anti-anxiety medication Xanax (pronounced ZAN-ex) or the similar drugs Valium, Klonopin and Ativan, and seem drowsy and out of it, with very few so-called “fun” side effects. Once they begin taking it, it can be difficult to stop. The more they use, the higher their risk of severe side effects, like shivering, anxiety and seizures. Adolescents who mix Xanax with alcohol or other drugs are especially in jeopardy. In between 2005 and 2018, the number of ER visits associated with Xanax or comparable prescription drugs almost doubled.

Drug slang for Xanax consist of:

  • Xannies.
  • Bars.
  • Z-Bars.
  • Zanbars or Xanbars.
  • Handlebars.
  • Planks.
  • Bricks.
  • Benzos.
  • Blue Footballs.
  • Upjohn.
  • School Bus.
  • Bicycle Parts.
  • Yellow Boys.
  • White Boys.
  • White Girls.


This dis-associative anesthetic drug drives individuals into confusion and triggers a loss of bodily and mental control. Not only can PCP lead to mental health issues including severe depression, but it can cause psychosis. In fact, many tragic suicides, murders and unexpected deaths have been attributed to PCP use. Though PCP is not as common as drugs like cocaine, hundreds of thousands of American teens put themselves at risk by taking this substance.

PCP street names include:

  • Angel dust.
  • Ozone.
  • Rocket fuel.
  • Love boat.
  • Embalming fluid.
  • Hog.
  • Superweed.
  • Wack.
  • Wet (a marijuana joint soaked in PCP).

Does Your Family Member or Loved One Need Drug or Alcohol Treatment?

If you notice signs of addiction, and you hear your child and their buddies use some of this slang, they may have a substance abuse or drug addiction concern. We recognize this realization could be jarring. Many parents feel shocked, confused, embarrassed, or minimize the problem, calling it “normal.” It’s OK to be scared and unsure of what to do. Cultural stigma of drug addiction makes us view addicts as helpless, bad people. But it’s essential you jump right into to action once you learn of your teen’s problem. The faster you accept that your kid is sick with the disease of addiction, the quicker you can get them the professional help they need.

What Next?

You may be uncertain about what to do next. We recommend speaking to a medical or treatment professional, like your family physician or the recovery advisers from our teen substance abuse helpline. All of the conversations on the Northlake Recovery helpline are cost-free and discreet with no strings attached. We are ready to consult with you about addiction in general, particular drugs, answer questions and point you toward teen rehab facilities if you feel that inpatient or outpatient rehab are right for your family. Contact us toll free at (561)-770-6616, or quick chat with us online.

Please know that you’re not alone going through this, we are here to help guide you. Take the first step by giving us a call. There’s no need to feel alone, our primary concern is genuine care, and sobriety.

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