Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Drug Street Slang Your Teenager May Use

teen drug street slang

Every generation of parents feels that their teens are speaking a foreign language. While it’s not always necessary to understand the cryptic terms that your teenagers use in their texts, phone calls or emails, you should be aware of some common street slang for drugs or alcohol. Understanding this aspect of your son’s communications may give you clues to more serious behavioral changes, like skipping classes, abandoning good friends, staying out late, or lying and stealing.

Street Slang for Drugs

Slang terms for drugs tend to change over time, but some of the street vocabulary for common substances has remained the same for decades:


According to the National Institutes of Health, 36 percent of 12th graders have smoked cannabis in the past 12 months, and over 6 percent smoke it daily. At the same time, the perception of the risks of marijuana use has declined among teens. Popular terms for marijuana or for marijuana cigarettes include pot, weed, bud, grass, ganja, blunt, joint, fattie, hydro and indo.

Synthetic cannabis

Synthetic marijuana is a new drug that consists of dried plant material sprayed with chemicals that replicate the effects of marijuana. Once sold legally at convenience stores, gas stations, head shops and liquor stores, synthetic cannabis goes by the names incense, K2 and spice.


Drugs containing the hallucinatory chemical mephedrone are commonly known as bath salts or plant food. These synthetic products, which may be new to most parents, are sold in powdered form and may be labeled “Not for Human Consumption” to avoid legal controls.


Methamphetamine, often shortened to “meth,” is one of the most widely used illegal stimulants among teens. Often sold as a white powder, meth can be snorted, smoked or injected. Your teens may refer to slang terms for meth such as: speed, crystal, ice, chalk, glass, tweak or crank.

Prescription drugs

Prescription drugs are easy to obtain from household medicine cabinets, from friends or from street dealers. Teens may abuse drugs that are prescribed for treating pain, anxiety, depression or ADHD. Some of the most common street terms for prescription drugs are pharmies, pharms, xanibars (Xanax), vic (Vicodin), O.C. or Killers (OxyContin), and kibbles n’ bits (Ritalin).

Ecstasy (MDMA)

This synthetic “designer” drug is classified as both a stimulant and a hallucinogenic substance. Available at clubs, parties, concerts and raves, Ecstasy promotes a sense of intimacy and produces mind-altering effects. Street terms for this drug include X, XTC, beans, hug drug, love drug, and E. Ecstasy is also known as “molly.”  If you’re wondering why slang terms for molly are included in the ecstasy MDMA category of drugs, it is because this term is short for “molecular” and refers to ecstasy being in a crystallized or powder (molecular) form – hence, “molly.”


Ketamine is an anesthetic that’s legitimately used in veterinary practice. When taken by humans as a party drug, this drug can produce dangerous side effects and hallucinations. Ketamine is known as Special K, vitamin K, cat valium, super acid and psychedelic heroin.


Once considered primarily a street drug used in urban settings, heroin has become more common in suburban communities, and teens are reporting that it’s easier to obtain. This illegal narcotic goes by the nicknames smack, thunder, big H, ska, skag, junk, antifreeze and many more.


A common ingredient in cough syrup, dextromethorphan has become one of the most widely abused over-the-counter drugs. Teens can abuse this drug by purchasing cough suppressant medications or by buying its active ingredient in bulk online. Slang terms for dextromethorphan include DM, dex, drex, vitamin D, robo, rojo and tussin. People who abuse this medication are known as syrup heads.


It might be hard to believe that this illicit street drug was once an ingredient in the popular soda beverage Coca-Cola when it was first sold to consumers in the late 1800s.  Derived from coca leaves, the drug has fluctuated in popularity in teens over the years, with its apex in the 1980s.  Today, around 4% of teenagers have been reported to use cocaine, according to the latest Monitoring the Future Study. In terms of teenage drug slang, cocaine is commonly referred to as “blow” because it is blown (sniffed) up the nostrils. Requesting a “bump” is slang for receiving a dose of cocaine. A “line” refers to cocaine being assembled on a surface so it can be sniffed up the nose (with a straw, for example) in a linear fashion. Other slang terms for cocaine include: Coke, snow, blanca, flake, powder, or nose candy. 


Adderall was first introduced in 1996 by pharmaceutical companies as a drug that helps with attention deficit disorders (ADHD).  Regrettably, it is now one of the most common instances of teenage substance abuse in families today.  In fact, around 25% of teens are reported to abuse Adderall.  It is attractive to teens because it is often easily available from peers who have it as a prescription to manage ADHD.  The drug acts as a stimulant, and teens often abuse it in order to stay more alert or get achieve higher levels of energy.  Common slang for Adderal includes: addys (or addies), pep pills, a-trains, or amps. Because it is often used for cramming sessions (concentrated bouts of studying for exams), teenage drug slang for Adderall also includes terms such as study buddies, smart pills, smarties, or smart skittles.

Slang Terms for Drug Use

Along with slang terms for specific drugs, teens have their own vocabulary for discussing the use of drugs and alcohol:

  • Crunking: To get drunk on alcohol and high on drugs at the same time
  • Dexing, robotripping or robodosing: To abuse cough syrups or other medications that contain dextromethorphan
  • Toke up, burn a stick, burn one: To smoke marijuana
  • Go fast, tweaking, spinning, cranking, getting glassed, getting fried: To use methamphetamine
  • Doing up, shooting up, chasing the tiger, going on the nod: Terms associated with using heroin

Teen Drug Slang FAQs 

Perhaps your teenager is trying to appear “cool” – or maybe using nicknames for drugs makes young people feel like they have more gravitas in their peer group.  For whatever reason, getting familiar with slang and street names for drugs should be every parent’s best practice in a comprehensive approach to identifying potential drug issues in their child.  Furthermore, learning the lingo helps parents understand what kids are talking about.  Staying educated and current can make a big difference in the early detection and/or prevention of teens using drugs. With this in mind, here are some additional insights and FAQs about teenage drug slang.

What is Yayo slang for?

Also spelled yeyo or llello, this term is slang for cocaine. The slang is believed to have origins in Latin America, but it has popped up in recent US rap music songs and drug cartel movies. 

What is slang for drug addict?

The unfortunate truth is that there are many nicknames associated with people who are addicted to drugs.  Some of these include terms such as tweaker, junkie, stoner, fiend, druggie, or zombie – to name a few.  All of these should be considered derogatory and even insulting. It’s important for both parents and teens to understand addiction is a serious and life-threatening conduction that deserves compassion and awareness. 

What is a “screamer” drug?

This is a slang term for drugs that prompt laughter.  Drugs such as marijuana or ecstasy, or psychedelics that produce euphoria or giggles are commonly referred to as screamers for the “laugh out loud” (LOL) factor. 

What is the drug panda?

Panda is a nickname for Phenazepam which is a class of drug in the benzodiazepine family. When used according to a doctor’s prescription, they are meant to treat anxiety and insomnia.  Because of their tranquilizing effects, teens may abuse pandas or benzos for the mellow sedative effects. 

What is a boomerang drug?

This term originated from prescription drugs approved by the FDA for the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease. Certain types of these drugs were dubbed “boomerang drugs” because their effects were exactly the opposite and counterintuitive for treatment.  In terms of teenage drug slang, a boomerang drug implies taking a substance that is believed to produce a desired result, but in fact, it has the opposite (and often terrifying) consequence after taking it.  

Talking to Your Teens About Drugs

If you find evidence that your son is using drugs or alcohol, don’t panic. Talking with teens about drug abuse in a calm, nonjudgmental manner may be what it takes to help your son stay on track with his plans for a positive future. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to work actively with their sons and daughters to build self-esteem and self-confidence in order to reduce the risk of drug abuse.

If your son does have a problem with drugs or alcohol, it’s important to be able to reach out for help from compassionate, experienced addiction treatment professionals. Our addiction treatment specialists at Muir Wood are here to help you navigate the complexities of teenage drug abuse and recovery. If your teenage son is showing signs of drug abuse, or if he’s already displayed evidence of addiction, don’t hesitate to call our central intake number for assistance and support.

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