What Are Slang Terms for Drugs and Alcohol?

Illicit substances come with a wide variety of names. Protect yourself by learning common slang for drugs and alcohol.

Why are Slang Terms for Substances Developed?

Going to a party or spending time with friends can be fun, especially in relaxed settings. But when someone passes around an unfamiliar beverage or smoking device, it’s always wise to know what you’re getting into before partaking.

To make things difficult, lots of drugs and alcohol are referred to by slang terms. There are so many words for a wide variety of substances it can be tough to keep track of them all. Let’s break down some of the most common slang terms for drugs and alcohol.

Slang For Drugs

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What is Slang for Drugs?

Drug slang includes any terms that refer to a specific drug or consumption activity, although some drug slang terms also refer to drug users themselves. Because many drug slang terms are creative and/or funny, slang is commonly used by both recreational and addicted users, oftentimes more than their “official” drug terminologies. 1

Despite the entertaining terms sometimes encountered, it’s important to remember the effects of drug abuse can be far from lighthearted. The physical and psychological effects of misusing substances can be very dangerous. If you are ever unsure whether a substance contains an illegal drug, or are unable to identify what kind of drug you are being offered, err on the side of caution and decline.

Origin of Drug Slang

Drug slang terms originally came about so that individuals could discuss drugs and drug use without alerting law enforcement. For example, speaking about alcohol in slang terms allowed alcohol smugglers to stay involved in the illegal alcohol trade during the prohibition era without alerting authorities.
Many terms for drugs have evolved beyond their original uses and references. Some drug slang terms may seem to refer to a physical characteristic or property of the drug in question, while others may seem random due to linguistic drift. 2

Slang Terms for Alcohol

Alcohol has perhaps the broadest range of slang terms compared to any other drug, largely due to its popularity and the legality of its consumption for people over 21.

Common slang for alcohol:

Some of the most common slang terms for alcohol include but are not limited to:
  • Booze
  • Draft
  • Suds
  • Sauce
  • Hard stuff
  • Juice
  • Moonshine (which can also refer to moonshine as an alcoholic beverage itself)
  • Oats soda
  • Liquid courage
  • Cold one
  • Brew
These terms are so common that they are even sometimes advertised on restaurant or bar menus. However, alcohol slang terms go beyond the beverages themselves.

Slang Terms for Intoxication

Some slang terms related to alcohol are adjectives to describe oneself as intoxicated, such as:
  • Drunk
  • Hammered
  • Tanked
  • Wasted
  • Plastered
  • Blasted
  • Toasted
  • Buzzed
  • Wrecked
  • Basted

Slang Terms for Alcoholism

Frequent users of alcohol may be referred to by slang titles. Note that these terms are frequently understood as problematic or insulting and should not be used in conversation if possible. Slang terms for frequent alcohol users include:
  • Alkie
  • Boozer
  • Drunk
  • Drinker
  • Boozehound
  • Carouser
  • Barfly

Slang Terms for Opioids

Opioids, both prescribed and illicit, have slang terms. These terms are often used to avoid alerting law enforcement. It’s important to know these slang terms for drugs so you don’t accidentally consume something that you don’t intend to.

Slang Terms for Morphine

Morphine is frequently referred to as:
  • Miss Emma
  • White Stuff
  • “M”
  • Monkey

Slang Terms for Codeine

Codeine is sometimes referred to by slang terms as:
  • Capt. Cody
  • Little C
  • Schoolboy
  • Lean

Slang Terms for Fentanyl

Fentanyl, a dangerous opioid which is easily overdosed, may be referred to by street names including:

  • Dance Fever
  • Apache
  • China Girl
  • China White
  • TNT
  • Friend
  • Goodfella

Slang Terms for Heroin

Heroin is a very potent and addictive opioid. These names refer to the color of the heroin in most cases. Heroin can be referred to as:

  • Black Tar
  • China White
  • Dope
  • White Horse
  • Black Pearl
  • Brown Sugar
  • Smack
  • Snow or snowball
  • White Lady
  • Speedball for cocaine mixed with heroin

Slang Terms for Stimulants

Stimulants, such as cocaine, have their own range of slang. Many stimulants are outright illegal due to their potential for abuse and negative side effects.
Cocaine is one of the most well-known and dangerous stimulant drugs. Stimulants were most commonly used during the 1970s and 1980s. Due to their popularity, lots of slang for drugs in this class originated during this time period.

Slang Terms for a Variety of Stimulants

Slang terms for different stimulants include:
  • Crack
  • Coke
  • Blow
  • Soda cut
  • Snow or snow white
  • Peruvian or Peruvian Lady
  • Flake or big flake

Slang Terms for Cocaine

Many slang terms have been developed for cocaine due to how it affects users. These terms include names such as:

  • Glad stuff
  • Love affair
  • Big rush
  • Bouncing powder
  • Nose powder
  • Paradise
  • Happy trails or happy dust

Slang Terms for Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant with its own spread of slang terms and street names, including:

  • Speed
  • Ice
  • Chalk
  • Wash
  • Cookies
  • Pookie
  • White cross
  • Rocket fuel
These terms typically referred to methamphetamine’s stimulating effects, which are very dangerous in any capacity. 3

Slang Terms for Ecstasy

Ecstasy was originally slang for the drug MDMA but the slang has overtaken the drug’s original name in popularity. Other names for this stimulant include:

  • Molly
  • Adam
  • Hug
  • Beans
  • Clarity
  • Love drug
  • XTC

Slang Terms for Amphetamines

Amphetamines, other than methamphetamine, are referred to by a myriad of street names, including:
  • Jellybeans
  • Marathons
  • Lid poppers
  • Lightening
  • Nuggets
  • Cartwheels
  • Amps
  • Co-pilots

Slang Terms for Other Drugs

There are slang terms for almost every drug regardless of whether it’s legal or not illegal.

Slang Terms for Depressants

Depressants such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines depress the nervous system. 4 They have slang names and may be referred to as:
  • Downers
  • Busters
  • Blockbusters
  • Idiot pills
  • Stumblers or stoppers
  • Drowsy high
  • Downies
It is important to not use stimulants with depressants at the same time—a practice known as speedballing. Their competing effects put the body at a higher risk of “death from stroke, heart attack, aneurysm, or respiratory failure.” If you or someone you know has consumed stimulants and depressants concurrently, seek medical attention.

Slang Terms for Inhalants

Depending on the drug in question, some slang terms may refer to how the drug is used or how it is imbibed. For example, inhaled drugs that reach the body through the lungs are often referred to by slang that references the feeling or activity of inhaling the substance.

Slang Terms for Inhalants

Terms for inhalant drugs include:
  • Snappers
  • Rush
  • Whiteout
  • Air blast
  • Moon gas
  • Hippie crack
  • Glad
  • Chroming
  • Bold
Slang For Drugs - Seeking Treatment

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There are more street names and slang terms for drugs than there are drugs themselves. Educating yourself about slang terms will help you navigate social events safely and avoid being exposed to harmful substances by accident. By being familiar with common drug and alcohol slang you will also be in a better position to communicate to friends or family members who may be in need of medical assistance due to drug or alcohol use.

For more information on substance use disorders and their treatment, or if you or someone you love is in need of assistance, contact Concise Recovery today. Our licensed facility offers detoxification, in-patient and outpatient programs, residential therapy, and an in-house drug testing facility for reliable and fast results. At Concise Recovery Today we’re confident that we can help you to live a more complete life, without the burden of a substance use disorder. If this sounds like something that could be helpful to you, please don’t hesitate to reach out.