Kids these days. That’s what plenty of people think when the subject of drugs comes up. However, kids these days really aren’t that different from kids in the past.
One that has changed is the lingo. There are more ways to refer to drugs than ever before. There are also new and different street drugs available. That means you might not know if your child is talking about drugs.
We’ve put together this handy list to help with that. It includes the most common street drugs. We’ve included a brief description of the drugs as well as some of their street names. The list is organized by the general effect of the drug. It’s divided into uppers, downers, and in-between.
Use this broad organization to match symptoms you see in your child. Then look through the list of terms to see if your child is using code to talk about drugs.
We’ll be monitoring popular culture for more terms as well. So be sure to check back for the latest information on dangerous drugs and their street names.
Uppers, or stimulants, cause an increase in energy. They are very popular street drugs. They help people stay up longer and party harder. Some people also use them as productivity aids. They use the energy they get from the drugs to work or study harder and for longer.
Abusing stimulants comes with many short and long-term consequences. It can even result in death. This can happen if your body gets too warm. It can also happen because your heart is working too hard.
Use this list to see if someone you know is using these dangerous drugs.
Cocaine is one of the most famous illegal drugs. It looks like a white or yellowish powder. Cocaine produces a euphoric feeling and a surge in energy. The Department of Health and Human Services says that 5% of high school students reported using cocaine 1 or more times.
Some of the most common street names for cocaine include:
- White lady
- Nose candy
Crack is a form of cocaine. It’s processed in a way that makes it easier to smoke. This drug has similar characteristics to cocaine. However, it produces a much more intense sensation. It’s usually white or yellowish in appearance. The more pure the substance, the more yellow it will appear.
Common street names for crack include:
- Black rock
Adderall, or dextroamphetamine, is a commonly prescribed drug. It belongs to a family of drugs called amphetamines. People use it to treat the symptoms of ADHD. It’s also prescribed for narcolepsy. This drug comes in several forms. There are tablets and capsules. Tablets take effect faster. They also wear off faster. Capsules are an extended-release form of the drug. They provide energy for a long time. Sometimes people snort Adderall to make it work faster.
People abuse this drug for fun and for work. That means more teens and young adults may be tempted by it. Otherwise good students might see it as a way to be more productive.
Some of the street names for Adderall include:
- Pep Pills
- Study Guides
Ritalin is a drug that’s similar to Adderall. It’s used legally for the same things. People also abuse it illegally for the same reasons.
Just like Adderall, Ritalin has instant and extended release forms. The extended release kind is sold under the brand name Concerta.
Slang names for Ritalin are:
- Vitamin R
- Kiddie Coke
- Fake coke
Methamphetamine is an insanely dangerous and addictive drug. It’s one of the most powerful stimulants on the market. Also, the drug is dangerous because of how it’s made.
It usually comes from home “labs”. They use all kinds of dangerous chemicals to produce the drug. That means users never know what else they’re using. The labs themselves are very dangerous. There are lots of reports of meth labs exploding.
There are lots of ways to use methamphetamine. People smoke it, snort it, and shoot it. That means there are lots of signs you need to look for.
Street slang for meth includes:
- Crystal meth
Bath salts are a relatively new drug. They’re sold legally as an additive for baths. They are usually labeled as not for human consumption. But, to some people, that’s the sign they’re a drug.
The salts are actually synthetic cathinones. Cathinone is a chemical that’s found a Khat, an East African plant. People they have chewed Khat for thousands of years for its mild stimulant effects.
Bath salts usually look like white or brown crystals or powder. They are sold under many brand names. Sometimes people use them when they can’t get other drugs, like meth, cocaine, or MDMA. Also, they’re sometimes used to “cut” those same drugs. That lets the drug dealer get more money for the same amount of drugs they’re selling.
There hasn’t been a lot of research on bath salts. They’re still pretty new. However, scientists think that they are at least 10 times as powerful as cocaine. They cause extreme paranoia, hallucinations, increased friendliness, and an increased sex drive.
Bath salts are most famous for reports of cannibalism. These reports started after a homeless man was shot and killed by police. He was discovered eating the face of another homeless man. Some of the street names for bath salts come from popular brand names. They are:
- Ivory wave
- Lunar wave
Downers are the opposite of uppers. They suppress the body’s functions. That means they’re dangerous. An overdose can cause you to stop breathing. It can also cause your heart to stop beating.
The drugs that make up the current opioid epidemic are downers. Many of these drugs have legitimate uses. Some are used to treat pain. Others treat anxiety and other mental health disorders. But when they’re abused, they all become dangerous.
Unlike uppers, downers aren’t usually abused by people trying to be productive. Instead, they’re party drugs and escape drugs.
Heroin is one of the most dangerous drugs on the planet. It’s a very strong opiate. US News & World Report states that heroin is hitting young adults and teens the hardest. Many people turn to heroin after they get addicted to opioid painkillers.
The drug is very popular. So, there are lots of names for it. No matter what you call it, heroin is dangerous and deadly. Some slang words for heroin are:
- Black Tar
- China White
Morphine is another powerful opiate. It’s derived from the opium plant. Doctors use it to treat extreme pain. Substance abusers use it to get high. It produces an intense euphoric feeling. It’s also very easy to overdose on. Slang names for morphine include:
- Salt and Sugar
- Miss Emma
- God’s Drug
This drug is an incredibly powerful synthetic opioid. It kicks in very quickly. It’s was for sedation and anesthesia in Switzerland. Since then, it comes almost exclusively from illegal drug labs. It’s made using codeine, a synthetic opiate, and a combination of other chemicals. Codeine is a controlled substance in the US. But you can get it over-the-counter in other countries.
Since most of the drug comes from illegal labs, it is rarely pure. The contamination means it has horrible effects on users. It can rot flesh and cause awful infections. Most desomorphine users inject the drug. Illegal desomorphine first came to attention in 2003 when people in Siberia were making and using it in response to a crackdown on heroin.
Most of the slang names for this drug come from the conditions it inflicts on users. They include:
- The Zombie Drug
- Russian Magic
- Poor Man’s Heroin.
Hydrocodone is the chemical name for the common painkiller Vicodin. It’s also sold as Lortab. This drug is also an opioid. It’s not as strong as heroin or morphine. But it’s more widely available. That means people will be able to get more of the drug to take. They can still overdose on it. In fact, it was one of the drugs that contributed to Heath Ledger’s death.
These pills go by many names on the street, including:
- Watsons (after the imprint on the pill)
Oxycodone is sold under the brand name OxyCotin. It’s used to treat moderate to severe pain. It was marketed as resistant to abuse. That’s because it’s designed to be a slow-release tablet. The medicine works over 12 hours.
But substance abusers found out you could crush the pill and snort it. That bypassed the slow-release function of the pill. Many people who abuse oxycodone go on to develop a heroin habit. The pill gives them an addiction, and heroin is cheaper and easier to find than the pills. Some of the slang names for Oxycodone are:
- Hillbilly Heroin
- OC 80’s
Opium is the substance that all opioid and opiate pain pills come from. It’s the original pain-killer. It’s been used to treat pain for thousands of years. The substance looks like a sticky black tar. It comes from the sap of the opium poppy.
Opium can be swallowed, but most people smoke it. It produces a fragrant, floral smell. It’s not as popular as opiates and opioids. It’s much harder to find. But it’s still on the streets. Some of the slang terms for opium are:
- Black tar
- Chinese tobacco
- Midnight oil
Valium is a popular anti-anxiety medication. The pill’s chemical name is diazepam. It’s used to treat stress and nervous disorders. Sometimes it’s used as a muscle relaxer. It produces a sedative effect. Valium belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. These drugs all work in similar ways. They also have similar effects.
Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are the medication people think of when they think of a “chill pill”. They are very addictive. Moreover, withdrawal is dangerous. It includes seizures, nightmares, and other awful symptoms. That’s why it’s best not to become addicted in the first place. It’s also why doctors rarely prescribe these kinds of medications for the long term.
Some of the slang names for Valium are:
- Drunk Pills
- Old Joes
Klonopin, or clonazepam, is another benzodiazepine. That means it’s very similar to Valium. Klonopin doesn’t have the same muscle-relaxant properties as Valium. That means doctors mostly use it for anti-anxiety treatments. They don’t use it for muscle spasms or stiffness.
Clonazepam has lots of side effects when it’s abused. They include things like memory loss, drowsiness, and confusion. It can also cause people to lose interest in hobbies. Klonopin abusers frequently have a hard time tracking finances. The street names for Klonopin include:
- Chill pill
- Super valium
Ketamine is a “dissociative anesthetic.” It’s commonly used in veterinary medicine. There are also studies that suggest it could be helpful in treating depression. It comes in both powder and liquid forms. Users can inject, snort, or swallow the drug.
Ketamine produces a dissociative effect. Users feel like they’re floating. Sometimes they feel like they’re floating outside of their bodies. They become very immobile. They also become very clam. That’s one of the reasons why the drug is used for anesthesia.
The dissociative effects of the drug increase the more someone takes. Some users talk about experiencing a “K-hole” when they do too much. They feel like their consciousness is completely removed from their bodies. The drug is popular as a club drug and as a “post-club” cooldown drug. Some of the slang names for it are:
- Special K
- Kitty Valium
Xanax, or alprazolam, is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It is an extremely strong benzodiazepine. It takes effect very quickly. It also produces stronger effects than most other benzos.
The slang terms for Xanax are used for several things. Sometimes they just reference the drug itself. However, other words describe specific doses or types of pills.
Xanax is very dangerous when mixed with alcohol. Some people use it as a date rape drug. The memory loss is very intense from this particular pill. It’s even worse when combined with booze.
Some people take Xanax by itself. Others combine it with other drugs. They do this to make the other drugs more intense. They also do it to feel more drunk on less alcohol and “save money.” Xanax slang includes:
- Bar (A 2mg pill)
- Zany Bar
- Football (a 1mg pill)
- Sticks (a 2mg pill)
- School bus
Gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, is a central nervous system depressant. It comes in powder, tablet, capsule, and liquid forms. Most GHB on the street is made in home drug labs using drain cleaner and floor stripping solvents and other common chemicals.
GHB is best known as a date-rape drug. But lots of people also take it intentionally. It’s fairly popular on the club scene. When people take it with alcohol they can lose control of their muscles. They also have a hard time breathing. It produces many of the same withdrawal effects as benzodiazepines.
GHB slang names are:
- Georgia Home Boy
- Grievous Bodily Harm
- Liquid Ecstasy
- Liquid X
Rohypnol, or flunitrazepam, is an extremely powerful benzodiazepine. It can’t be legally prescribed in the US. But many countries use it as a treatment for insomnia. It’s often used as a club drug and date rape drug. It has a powerful memory-loss effect when combined with alcohol. It produces a sleepy and relaxed feeling that lasts from 2-8 hours.
The drug starts off in pill form. Some people take it as a pill. Others crush and snort it. It can also be dissolved in a drink. It doesn’t have any taste or smell. That makes it hard to tell if someone’s spiked a drink with the drug.
Many people use Rohypnol to supplement other drugs. Some people use it to make a heroin high more intense. Others use it to reduce the side effects of coming down from using stimulants like cocaine.
There are lots of slang names for Rohypnol, like:
- Forget pill
- Forget me pill
- Mexican valium
- Roach 2
Psychedelics and In-Betweens
The final category of drugs we’ll look at don’t fit neatly into uppers or downers. Many of these drugs are psychedelics. They alter a person’s perceptions. They can create hallucinations. They can also have a huge effect on how a person thinks.
People use psychedelics to enhance reality and to hide from it. Some people feel that they learn hidden truths about the world or themselves while they’re on them.
Psychedelics carry the risk of long-lasting side effects. Some people develop Hallucination Persisting Perception Disorder, or HPPD. They can also make pre-existing mental conditions worse. Some people can’t ever function again after taking too many psychedelics. One of the original members of Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett, was forced out of the band after his personality shifted so much from too many psychedelics.
The other drugs on this list don’t fall into any specific category. Like all drugs, they alter your state of consciousness. However, they aren’t psychedelics. They can have some properties of uppers and some properties of downers, all at the same time.
Marijuana is one of the most well-known drugs of all. Some states of legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Others have also legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. But it’s still illegal according to federal law. It’s also outlawed in many states.
Marijuana comes from one of two plants. Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica. The type of marijuana that most people are familiar with comes from the flowers of the plant. Growers remove male plants. The female plants produce larger and larger buds because they aren’t being fertilized.
It’s the most commonly used illicit drug in the US. The active ingredient is THC. There are also other active ingredients, but they don’t produce the “high” the drug is known for.
THC works by activating specific receptors in your body. These are called cannabinoid receptors. The drug causes altered senses, changes in mood, altered sense of time, impaired memory, difficulty problem solving, and relaxation.
The drug can be smoked or eaten. As new markets legalize the drug, it comes in more forms. Many people take it as edibles. These are made by infusing cooking oil with the drug. Other people use oils. These are made by extracting the THC from the drug into a more pure form.
Marijuana falls into the in-between category. It has some effects like downers. For example, it makes you sleepy. However, it also has some effects like uppers. One example is an increased heart rate.
This drug probably has more street names than any other drug. This is because it’s so widely-used. Street names for marijuana include:
- Mary jane
- Honey oil
LSD is a powerful psychedelic. It stands for Lysergic acid diethylamide. It was invented in 1938 in Switzerland. It comes from ergot. That’s a fungus that rots grains.
It produces strong hallucinations, sensory distortion, ecstasy, and altered through processes. The drug is usually sold in doses. LSD starts as a liquid. Someone creates doses by putting a drop of LSD on something. They use blotter paper, gummy candy, gelatin, sugar cubes, and more.
Sometimes the drug is sold in liquid form. This is for large quantities of LSD. It doesn’t take much of the drug to produce effects. A single dose is between 40 and 500 micrograms. That’s about 1/10th of a grain of sand. People can feel effects with as few as 25 micrograms.
LSD is popular on the club and music festival scenes. People use it to enhance their experience at these events. They also use it in other forms. Recently, many people have started “micro-dosing.” This means they take a dose of LSD that’s less than 25 micrograms. They claim it helps them focus and work. They also say it reduces the effects of mental health issues.
The drug was very popular in the 60’s and 70’s. There are lots of street names for it. The most popular street names for LSD are:
- Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
MDMA, or 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is an incredibly popular party, club, and dance drug. Its most common name is Ecstasy. It’s illegal almost everywhere. However, some exceptions are made for research. There’s some evidence that the substance can be used to treat PTSD and other mental health conditions.
The drug is very dangerous. It’s rarely found in its pure form. Instead, it’s “cut” with other drugs. Some options include caffeine, meth, heroin, or just any powdered substance.
The drug produces a euphoric and psychedelic experience. It boosts self-confidence. It also causes entactogenic effects. That means it makes you feel closer to others as well as yourself. MDMA also produces an increased sense of perception and sexuality.
Dance events called raves made the drug famous in the late 90’s. However, it’s very dangerous. In addition to the fact that it’s rarely pure, it also causes terrible side effects. It raises the body’s temperature. That can result in death.
It’s popularity has given MDMA many street names. These include:
- Scooby Snacks
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin X
- Disco Biscuits
- Happy Pills
Mescaline is a psychedelic drug. It comes from the San Pedro cactus. It also comes from other cacti, like the Peruvian torch. It occurs naturally in these plants.
The drug produces a powerful hallucinogenic effect. It’s very similar to LSD in how it affects the brain. Users experience visual and audio hallucinations. They see altered versions of things. Sometimes they see things that aren’t even there.
Mescaline has been used in shamanic medicine for thousands of years. It’s not considered addictive. However, it still has the same drawbacks as other psychedelics. The effects last for 8-16 hours.
Recently, advances in chemistry have enabled the production of synthetic mescaline. These compounds are entirely human-made. They cause similar effects as the naturally occurring drug. However, they come from shady sources and labs.
Like other psychedelics, users build a tolerance the more they use the drug. It also increases a user’s tolerance for LSD and psilocybin. These are known as serotonergic psychedelics. That’s because they alter the way your brain processes serotonin.
Mescaline is noted for the way it affects users. Many people who take the drug report an altered experience of time. Also, many people report an altered sense of self awareness. They see recurring visual patterns, like stripes or checkerboards as complex shapes.
Some of the slang names for mescaline include:
- Cactus heads
- Cactus buttons
Psilocybin mushrooms, or magic mushrooms, come in many forms. There are several types of mushroom that produce psilocybin. That’s the active ingredient in these fungi.
Psilocybin is a powerful psychedelic. It causes many of the same effects as LSD. It’s also popular at clubs and music festivals. Sometimes academics and intellectuals use this drug. It’s also found naturally. However, it’s very dangerous to go picking psilocybin mushrooms. Many species of mushroom look alike. Some mushrooms that look like psilocybin mushrooms are poisonous.
These mushrooms have been used for thousands of years. They generally aren’t considered addictive. However, they do share the drawbacks of other psychedelics. That means they can cause HPPD. They can also cause pre-existing mental conditions to become more aggressive. Some of the street names include:
- Pizza toppers
- Magic mushrooms
- Silly putty
PCP, or phencyclidine, is a street drug that produces hallucinations and other psychological effects. It was most popular in the 1970’s. It’s not used as often anymore. However, people still get the drug and abuse it.
Interestingly, it’s classified as a schedule II drug. That means it’s dangerous but has some legitimate medical uses. However, it’s illegal to sell or possess PCP in the United States.
Some of the psychological changes the drug brings on include the loss of ego boundaries, paranoia, and depersonalization. There’s also been reports of increased violent behavior. A normal dose of the drug produces a mental state that is like a schizophrenic episode. As a result, it’s considered extremely dangerous.
The drug comes in powder and liquid forms. It’s consumed by smoking, snorting, or through the skin. Some of the common names for PCP include:
- Angel Dust
- Tic Tac
Steroids aren’t actually one drug. Instead there are lots of different steroids. Each one has its own specific effects. However, they all share some things in common, so we’re putting them together for this article.
Steroids work to boost the bodies muscle growth and development. They’re most often abused by athletes and body-builders. Unlike other drugs, steroids don’t have as much of an effect on the brain as on the body.
There are several ways to spot steroid use. Symptoms include sudden gains in muscle mass, increased levels of aggression, increase in body hair, and sex-specific symptoms. In men the drug causes testicular shrinkage. It can also cause the development of breasts. Women experience an increase in body and facial hair. They also might see breast shrinkage.
Some of the common names for steroids include:
- Gym candy
As you can see, there are lots of dangerous drugs out on the streets. Be sure to check back, as we’ll be adding new drugs to the list all the time. After all, if you don’t know what people are talking about, then it’s harder to tell if someone you care for is using drugs. Don’t let slang and street names cause an addiction to go unnoticed. It’s especially important to catch substance use in children and young adults before it gets worse. Use this information to protect the people you care about.