Common Slang Terms for Heroin

A heroin addict, injecting heroin with a needle, UK

Diverse Images/UIG/Getty Images 

In the culture surrounding illegal drugs, there are thousands of slang terms, nicknames, and street names for every imaginable drug. Hundreds of those street terms are used for heroin, a highly addictive illegal drug.

Slang terms for heroin are derived from a wide variety of sources, including the physical appearance and type of heroin; where it's from; the effect it has on users; and how it is packaged for sale.

Some street names for heroin are simply designed to cover up the topic of conversation and throw eavesdroppers off track.

Terms Based on Appearance

Some of the slang terms are based on the drug's appearance after it is cut and packaged for sale on the street. Some terms are based on the color of the drug and others on its composition.

  • Black Pearl
  • Black Sheep
  • Black Tar
  • Brown Crystal
  • Brown Rhine
  • Brown Sugar
  • Diesel
  • Dirt
  • Golden Girl
  • Red Chicken
  • Red Eagle
  • Salt
  • Spider Blue
  • White Junk
  • White Nurse
  • White Stuff

Terms Based on Location of Origin

A few of the slang terms are derived from the supposed origin of the drug.

  • Chinese Red
  • Mexican Horse
  • Mexican Mud

Terms Based on the Effects of Heroin

Many of the nicknames given to heroin over the years have to do with the effect it has on the user or the quality or pureness of the drug at the street level.

  • Dead on Arrival
  • Hairy
  • Hard Candy
  • Hard One
  • Hell Dust
  • Joy Flakes
  • Nice and Easy

Terms Based on People and Characters

Some of the most colorful street terms are the names of people or characters loosely associated with the drug or simply because their names start with the letter H. Sometimes, there seems to be no logic at all behind the nickname.

  • Aunt Hazel
  • Beast
  • Big Harry
  • Boy
  • Charlie
  • Doojey
  • Dragon
  • George Smack
  • Harry
  • Hazel
  • Helen
  • Henry
  • Hercules
  • Hombre
  • Morena
  • Old Steve
  • Rambo
  • Witch

Terms Based on Packaging

Some nicknames are based on how the drug is packaged by street-level dealers, either by the packaging's appearance or cost.

  • Big Bag
  • Blue Hero
  • Brick Gum
  • Burrito

Terms Based on the Word "Heroin"

Many of the slang terms are plays on the word "heroin" or are mispronunciations of the word. Others are used just because they begin with the letter H.

  • Big H
  • Capital H
  • Charlie Horse
  • Galloping Horse
  • Good H
  • H
  • H Caps
  • Heavy
  • Helicopter
  • Hero
  • Horse

Terms Used to Deceive

Like street terms for other illegal drugs, many of the slang terms for heroin are used for no other reason except they disguise the true topic of the conversation to others who might overhear. Some of these terms seem to have no other logical explanation.

  • A-bomb
  • Antifreeze
  • Ballot
  • Basketball
  • Bombs Away
  • Bonita
  • Bozo
  • Butter
  • Fairy Dust
  • Flea Powder
  • Lifesaver
  • Noise
  • Reindeer Dust
  • Scag (skag)
  • Smack
  • Tootsie Roll

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. 

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

1 Source
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  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. What are the long-term effects of heroin use?

Additional Reading

By Buddy T
Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism.