Slang and Nicknames for Heroin

heroin Heroin, a powerful opioid similar to morphine, has a long history in the US and is currently a Schedule I drug on the nation’s list of controlled substances.
This means that it is completely illegal, and there are no medical uses for it. Because of these factors, there is a very long list of slang terms for heroin and plenty of colloquial language around its use and the culture surrounding it. The terms also vary according to country, but this article will focus on the US-based slang.

Common general slang terms for heroin itself include:

  • Dope
  • Smack
  • H
  • Junk
  • Skag
  • Snow
  • Horse
  • China white
  • Brown
  • Beast
  • Hero

Another reason that there are so many different slang terms for heroin is that drug dealers often come up with new terms in order to avoid detection by police officers.

The culture around heroin and the manufacturing and distribution of this substance are also constantly evolving both naturally and due to necessity.

Cutting Agents and Heroin Combinations

It’s important to understand that heroin found on the street is never in a pure form. Once it hits the market, heroin has been altered with additives and “cut” with other intoxicants and/or common substances, either to make it more potent or to allow dealers to sell less actual heroin for a higher profit. For example, the powdered form of heroin may be mixed with baking soda, powdered milk, or talcum powder to make users think they are buying more than they are. This is such a common practice that users simply have to accept it. However, the fact that it’s difficult to tell how pure heroin is without special equipment makes the drug all the more dangerous. Heroin purchased on the street can be anywhere from 3 to 99 percent pure. A new batch of heroin that’s purer than a user expects can lead to overdose.
The practice of cutting heroin with other substances often changes the color and texture of the drug. Often, the pure white powder turns brownish, leading to slang terms like brown and brown sugar. There are also some common processing methods for heroin that cause a very distinct appearance. Black tar heroin is the result of combining the drug with an acidic substance like lemon juice or citric acid powder, dissolving it in water, and then heating in order to create a solution that can be injected into a user’s veins. This process gives the drug a sticky, black, or dark brown appearance, which led to the nickname black tar. Other nicknames for this include Mexican mud and black pearl.

Heroin can also be combined with a number of other intoxicants in order to intensify the effects or to mediate the unpleasant symptoms of one or more of the drugs involved.

Common combinations and their slang terms include:

  • Dynamite: heroin and cocaine
  • Primo or dragon rock: heroin and crack
  • Screwball: heroin and meth
  • H-bomb: heroin and ecstasy
  • Neon nod: heroin and LSD (acid)
  • Chocolate bars: heroin and Xanax
  • Atom bomb or A-bomb: heroin and marijuana
  • El diablo: heroin, cocaine, and marijuana
  • LBJ: heroin, LSD, and PCP

Mixing heroin with other substances compounds the already high risks associated with the drug’s intake.

It increases the risk of overdose as the effects are combined, and mixing depressants and stimulants can even mask the signs of an overdose of either drug.

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