Slang Terms for Heroin and Paraphernalia

If you aren’t a part of the illicit drug world, listening to someone talk about drugs like heroin, might resemble listening to a foreign language. According to Boston University’s Informal English program, slang is used in minority groups, such as those addicted to heroin, in order to make it harder for others to know what they are talking about. Youths use slang to separate themselves from their parents, for instance. Drug users develop their own language to disguise what drugs they are using from anyone they wouldn’t want to have knowledge — the authorities, for example.

Common Terms for Heroin

Heroin is known by many names in the drug community. According to the DEA, heroin’s street names include:

  • Big H
  • Black tar
  • Chiva
  • Hell dust
  • Horse
  • Negra
  • Smack
  • Thunder

The Center for Drug Abuse Research at the University of Maryland adds “dope,” “junk,” “brown sugar,” “brown,” “Mr. Brownstone,” “Dr. Feelgood” and “China white,” to the list of street names for heroin.

The drug itself isn’t the only aspect of heroin abuse to have its own language. The paraphernalia used to smoke or inject heroin, as well as the effects of the drug, also have street names. For instance, the phrase “chasing the dragon,” has long meant the process of heating heroin until the vapors form a smoke and inhaling it. Some also attribute this phrase to the desire of heroin addicts to find the same, first-time intense euphoria that they originally experienced from the drug. Tolerance, or the process through which the body adjusts to drugs in the system, make that “chase” futile and can lead to addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  Some heroin users inject the drug, rather than inhaling the smoke. The act of injecting heroin directly into a vein is known as “mainlining.” If the user injects the heroin into the skin tissue, rather than into a vein, they are said to be “skin-popping.”

When an individual mixes heroin and cocaine, it is known as “crisscrossing.”  Another form of mixing drugs is known as “speedballing.”  Speedballing is the process of mixing cocaine and heroin for the purpose of injecting the drugs through the use of a “rig.”  “Rig” is the term used to describe the hypodermic needle, together with the other tools needed to prepare and use the drugs. Other terms for the “rig” are the “work” or the “outfit.” Because heroin has been known by the name “junk;” those who use the drug regularly and become addicted to it are known as “junkies.”

The Most Frightening Slang Terms for Heroin and Paraphernalia

Perhaps one of the most frightening terms used in the world of heroin addiction isn’t slang at all. It’s actually just a short abbreviation. The letters OD, short for overdose, are all too common among those who have a serious addiction to heroin.

An overdose of heroin can be fatal, although it doesn’t have to be. There are treatments available, if the overdose victim gets emergency medical help quickly enough, to counteract the effects of the heroin, according to an article in the New York Times. The medication, known as a narcotic antagonist, can be given when necessary. Otherwise, the medical staff will treat symptoms of overdose as they occur. For instance, heroin slows the breathing and can even stop the lungs from working. If this happens, the ER medical staff can support the breathing artificially.

Heroin is often mixed with other substances, a practice referred to as “cutting,” so that those individuals selling the drug can make as large a profit as possible. These ingredients can further complicate recovery from an overdose or contribute to the death of the drug abuser. An example of this problem is found in an event reported by Central New York News recently. In Onondaga County, New York, health officials discovered that heroin had been mixed with the poison, strychnine, an ingredient in rat poison.

Getting Help for Heroin Addiction

heroin nickname and slangMany individuals who are embroiled in a life marked by drug addiction choose not to see, or simply can’t see, the benefits of recovering from addiction. Studies promoted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have found that an individual entering treatment does not have to do so voluntarily for that treatment to be effective. For instance, they have found that addicted individuals who participate in treatment while they are incarcerated can have great success with continued recovery once they have completed the requirements of their sentence.

If someone you love is actively using heroin, it is possible to help them get the assistance they need to quit, even if they don’t necessarily see the benefits, according to NIDA’s Principles of Effective Drug Addiction Treatment. An intervention is the process through which a group of family or friends of someone who is endangering their life through drug addiction can address the issues with the addicted party and convince them to get help. When this happens, it is imperative that there be a treatment program ready and able to admit them right away. To find out how we can help, please contact us here at Axis today.