Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Drug Street Slang Your Teen May Use

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:

  • Marijuana: 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.
  • Mephedrone: 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: 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 meth 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.
  • Ketamine: 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.
  • 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.
  • Dextromethorphan: 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.

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

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.

Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services is a Joint Commission-accredited mental health and substance use disorder treatment provider located in Petaluma, California. We provide integrated evidence-based care including psychiatry, psychotherapy, experiential therapy, wellness services, and milieu therapy for adolescents and teens, and their family members.