Drug Slang and Street Terms for Illicit Drugs

Close-Up Of Weed In Mason Jar On Table
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There are numerous slang terms and street names for illicit drugs. Drug culture has developed its own language in which ordinary-sounding words can take on entirely different meanings.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has compiled a list of more than 2,300 terms that mean something different in the drug culture—street terms that refer to specific drug types or drug activity. Slang terms used for drugs can range from humorous to clever to serious warnings.

What Is Drug Slang?

People who use or sell drugs develop their own in-group terms and language, much like any other group of people with a common experience. Some terms are simply designed to cover up the topic of conversation from possible eavesdroppers.

Slang terms are derived from a wide variety of sources. These might include the physical appearance and/or type of drug, the place where it originates, the effect it has on users, or how it's packaged for sale.

Some slang terms may apply to several different drugs. For example, someone riding the wave or on the nod is under the influence of drugs (in general, not a specific substance). To inject drugs with a syringe is to shoot, spike, boot, or slam the drug. Someone who is bipping is snorting drugs, while a tweaker is a person on a mission to find crack cocaine (but tweek is a methamphetamine-like substance). 

While drug slang is always evolving, there are some terms associated with specific types of drugs. These are likely to vary by community or region.

Marijuana

There are literally hundreds of slang terms or street names for marijuana or cannabis. Many terms have been derived from the source of the drug, the effect marijuana has on users or the appearance of the processed plant.

Some of the slang terms for marijuana combine the geographic location with the appearance of the processed plant. Some of the following names have risen to the level of "brand names" for the drug.

  • Acapulco Red
  • African, African Black, African Bush
  • Afghani Indica
  • Canadian Black
  • Chocolate Thai
  • Columbus Black
  • Colombian
  • Hawaiian Homegrown Hay
  • Hawaiian Black
  • Indian Hay
  • Indian Hemp
  • Jamaican Gold
  • Jamaican Red Hair
  • Kentucky Blue
  • Kona Gold
  • Manhattan Silver
  • Mexican Brown, Mexican Green, Mexican Locoweed, Mexican Red
  • Pakistani Black, Panama Gold, Panama Red
  • Tex-Mex
  • Texas Tea

Appearance-Based Terms

  • Black Bart, Black Gunion
  • Blue Sage
  • Blonde
  • Golden
  • Greens, Green Goddess, Green Buds
  • Leaf
  • Queen Ann's Lace
  • Red Bud

Effects-Based Terms

  • Assassin of Youth
  • Babysitter
  • Crying Weed
  • Crazy Weed
  • Dinkie Dow
  • Dry High
  • Giggle Weed
  • Giggle Smoke
  • Joy Smoke
  • Jolly Green
  • Killer Weed
  • Laughing Grass, Laughing Weed
  • Love Weed
  • Loco Weed
  • Magic Smoke
  • Righteous Bush
  • Sinsemilla
  • Wacky Weed

Packaging-Based Terms

  • Bale
  • Doob, Doobie, Doobee, Dube
  • Finger Lid
  • Grass Brownies
  • Loaf
  • Number

Word-Based Terms

  • Aunt Mary, Mary Ann, M.J., Mary Jane, Mary Jonas, Mary Ann, Mary and Johnny, Mary, Mary Warner, Weaver
  • Meggie, Megg, Med
  • Jane, Juanita
  • Pot
  • Reefer
  • Rope
  • Tea
  • Weed

People who are chiefing, blasting, or participating in a clam bake are smoking marijuana.

Names Used to Deceive

  • Ashes
  • Astro Turf
  • Bash
  • Bar
  • Bammy
  • Bo-Bo, Bo
  • Broccoli
  • Colorado Cocktail
  • Flower Tops
  • Haircut
  • Herb
  • Mootie
  • Muggles
  • Mutha
  • Muggles
  • Rainy Day Woman
  • Skunk
  • Sticky Icky
  • Sweet Lucy
  • Yellow Submarine

Cocaine

At the peak of its use in the 1970s and 1980s, cocaine began to influence many aspects of the American culture. Glamorized in songs, movies and throughout the disco music culture, cocaine became a very popular recreational drug. Some of the street names, slang terms, and nicknames were given to cocaine during the height of its popularity have become part of the American lexicon.

Cocaine begins as green leaves of the coca plant, but by the time it reaches users, it is a flaky white powder (or hard, white rocks in the form of crack cocaine). The appearance of the drug has been the basis for many of its street names or nicknames. Some names used for cocaine are based on the geographic origin of the drug, or at least the perceived geographic origin of the drug.

  • Blow
  • Coca
  • Coke
  • Crack
  • Big Flake, Flake
  • Peruvian, Peruvian Lady, Peruvian Flake
  • Snow, Snow White, Florida Snow
  • Soda Cut

Effects-Based Terms

More names for cocaine were derived from how the drug affects its users. The potency or the pureness of the drug also prompted many of its colorful nicknames and street names.

These include:

  • Big Rush
  • Bouncing Powder
  • Crack
  • Friskie Powder
  • Glad Stuff
  • Happy Trails, Happy Powder, Happy Dust
  • Love Affair
  • Marching Powder, Marching Dust
  • Nose Powder, Nose Candy, Nose Stuff
  • Paradise

Terms Based People and Characters

For most illegal drugs, some of the street names used to refer to cocaine sound like names of people, at least in part to disguise the subject of the conversation. Some of these nicknames are based loosely on the word "cocaine" while others seem to have no logical connection at all.

These include:

  • Aunt Nora
  • Angie
  • Bernie, Bernice
  • Billie Hoke
  • Cecil
  • Carrie Nation, Carrie
  • Choe
  • Chippy
  • Charlie
  • Corrinne, Corrine
  • Henry VIII
  • Her
  • Jejo
  • Lady Snow
  • Merck, Merk
  • Mujer
  • Nieve
  • Schmeck
  • Scottie
  • Serpico 21

Plays on the Word "Cocaine"

Some of cocaine's street names are simply derivatives of the word "cocaine" itself, or plays on the word "cocaine" or "coke."

  • Big C, C-Game, C
  • Coke, Cola
  • Coconut, Coca, Mama Coca
  • Lady Caine

Deceptive Street Names

Finally, there are dozens of slang terms for cocaine that seem to be based on no other criteria except that they are deceptive. These names are used by cocaine users to cover up the topic of their conversations about the drug in case they are overheard by others.

These terms include:

  • Base
  • Basa
  • Barbs
  • Bazulco
  • Beam
  • Boy
  • Burese
  • Carnie
  • Candy C
  • Came
  • C-Dust
  • Cholly
  • Combol
  • Duct
  • Esnortiar
  • El Perico
  • Jelly
  • Mosquitos
  • Monster
  • Teenager
  • Tardust
  • Yesco
  • Yesca
  • Zambi

Heroin

Some of the slang terms for heroin 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.

These include:

  • Big H, Capital H
  • Black Eagle, Black Pearl, Black Tar
  • Chiva
  • Hell Dust
  • Horse, Galloping Horse, Good Horse, Mexican Horse
  • Negra
  • Smack
  • Thunder
  • White Stuff, White Nurse, White Junk

Depressants

When prescription drugs make their way to the street to be sold for misuse or nonmedical use, they often are given street names. This is the case for depressants—barbiturates and benzodiazepines—which are medications prescribed as sedatives or tranquilizers to treat anxiety and insomnia.

Appearance-Based Terms

As with many drugs and medications, nicknames are often derived from the appearance of the drug. In the case of depressants, many street names refer to the color(s) of the pills or capsules.

These include:

  • Blue Bullets
  • Blue Birds
  • Blue Angels
  • Blue Tips
  • Blue Heavens
  • Blue Dolls
  • Blue Devil
  • Green Frog
  • Green Dragons
  • Marshmallow Reds
  • Pink Ladies
  • Red Bullets
  • Red and Blue
  • Rainbows
  • Reds
  • Strawberries

Effects-Based Terms

Another common source for the street name of a drug is the effect that it has on the user. Because barbiturates and benzodiazepines act to depress the central nervous system, many slang names for depressants refer to slowing down.

  • Block Busters
  • Busters
  • Downer
  • Double Trouble
  • Goofers
  • Drowsy High
  • Downies
  • Idiot Pills
  • Lay Back
  • Stumblers
  • Stoppers

Plays on the Real Names

For depressants, one of the most common sources for nicknames comes from the real names for the medications. Many depressants street names are shortened or alternative versions of their brand names or generic medication names. For example:

  • Barbies
  • Barb
  • Bambs
  • Luds
  • Ludes
  • Nimbies
  • Nemmies
  • Nebbies
  • Quad
  • Phenos
  • Phennies
  • Quas
  • Softballs
  • Seggy
  • Seccy
  • Sopers
  • Tuie
  • Tranqs
  • Tooties
  • Tooles

Cultural or Colloquial References

Some drug names come from how, when and where they are used. Cultural references and colloquial uses can become nicknames for sedatives and tranquilizers just as they can for other drugs. These include:

  • Christmas Rolls
  • Chorals
  • Dolls
  • Disco Biscuits
  • Gangster Pills
  • Gorilla Pills

People and Fictional Characters

Almost all drugs of abuse have a group of nicknames that refer to people or fictional characters. Some of them are logical uses of the name, while others don't seem to make any sense at all. The same is true for some street names of depressants

  • Mickey Finns
  • King Kong Pills
  • Mother's Little Helper
  • Mighty Joe Young
  • Mickeys

Purely Deceptive Names

Like most drug slang terms, some nicknames for depressants have origins that do not seem to make any sense at all. The names are seemingly created for no other reason than to disguise the topic of conversation. These terms include: Backwards, Coral, Joy Juice, Jellies, and Peth.

Amphetamines

Amphetamines have a long list of slang names based on appearance, the effect the drug has, and of course, names for deceptive purposes only.

Appearance-Based Terms

Amphetamines are sold in pill form and may come in several different colors, with corresponding slang names.

  • Black and Whites
  • Black Beauties
  • Black Birds
  • Black Bombers
  • Black Mollies
  • Blacks
  • Blue Boys
  • Brownies
  • Bumblebees
  • Chalk
  • French Blues
  • Hearts
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Pink Hearts
  • Rosa
  • Roses
  • Snow Pallets
  • White, Whites

Effects-Based Terms

Amphetamines are stimulants, so many slang terms for these drugs refer to that simulating effect.

  • Amps
  • Brain Ticklers
  • Cartwheels
  • Co-Pilots
  • Coast to Coasts
  • Forwards
  • Head Drugs
  • Jolly Beans
  • Leapers
  • Lid Proppers
  • Lightning
  • Marathons
  • Pep Pills
  • Pixies
  • Rhythm
  • Rippers
  • Road Dope
  • Snap
  • Sparkle Plenty
  • Sparklers
  • Thrusters
  • Truck Drivers
  • Turnabout
  • Uppers
  • Uppies
  • Wake-Ups
  • Zoomers

Deceptive Terms

Some terms for amphetamines may be based on prescription medications (such as dexies and diet pills). Or the origins may be unclear, but the intent is usually to conceal the behavior of using the drug.

  • Bennies
  • Benz
  • Chicken Powder
  • Christina
  • Crisscross
  • Cross Tops
  • Crossroads
  • Dominoes
  • Double Cross
  • Fives
  • Footballs
  • Horse Heads
  • Jam Cecil
  • Jelly Baby
  • Jugs
  • Minibennies
  • Nuggets
  • Splash
  • Splivins

Methamphetamines

Similar to amphetamine, methamphetamine (meth) also has a variety of colorful street names, often based on the appearance of the drug or the effects it has. These terms include:

  • Accordion
  • Aqua
  • Batu
  • Blue
  • Blue Bell Ice Cream
  • Bump
  • Christy
  • Clear
  • Clothing Cleaner
  • Crank
  • Cream
  • Cri-Cri
  • Crink
  • Crisco
  • Crypto
  • Crystal
  • Fizz
  • G-Funk
  • Glass
  • Go-Fast
  • Hawaiian Salt
  • L.A. Glass
  • L.A. Ice
  • Lemons
  • Lemon Drop
  • Motor
  • Peanut Butter Crank
  • Popsicle
  • Purple
  • Shards
  • Shatter
  • Super Ice
  • Walking Zombie
  • Witches Teeth
  • Yellow Barn
  • Zip

Ecstasy or MDMA

Some of the most colorful slang terms are used for Ecstasy or MDMA, based on the name of the drug, effects, and appearance. These terms include:

  • Adam
  • Baby Slits
  • Beans
  • Booty Juice
  • Candy
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Clarity
  • Dancing Shoes
  • Decadence
  • Disco Biscuits
  • Doves
  • E-Bomb
  • E
  • Happy Pills
  • Hug Drug
  • Love Drug
  • Love Trip
  • Malcolm
  • Molly
  • Scooby Snacks
  • Skittles
  • Slits
  • Smartees
  • Speed for Lovers
  • Thizz
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin X
  • XTC

A Word From Verywell

While all slang, including drug slang, changes frequently and can vary significantly by region and subgroup, it can help to be aware of some of these terms. If you are concerned that a loved one is using drugs unsafely, seek support from a healthcare provider or therapist and research ways to better communicate with a person who is facing addiction.

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.


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  1. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug slang code words.