DEA Issues Comprehensive 'Drug Slang' List to Aid in Abuse Identification

The DEA compiled this list in consultation with several law enforcement entities, in addition to online resources.
The DEA compiled this list in consultation with several law enforcement entities, in addition to online resources.

In light of the plethora of street names used to refer to a number of drugs of abuse, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has issued an unclassified intelligence report designed as a “ready reference for law enforcement personnel […] to identify a wide variety of controlled substances, designer drugs, and synthetic compounds.”

The agency compiled this list in consultation with several law enforcement entities, in addition to online resources, and expresses caution regarding the fluid nature of the “drug scene,” which may lead to unavoidable amendments and deletions to this rich and colorful urban nomenclature.

A section on the National Institute on Drug Abuse's (NIDA) website on Emerging Trends and Alerts lists common street names for some of the drugs associated with warnings. For example, an advisory on synthetic cannabinoids for New York City dated July 2016, which was prompted by 130 individuals presenting to area emergency departments over the course of 3 days with related adverse events, includes alternate appellations for these compounds. These street names are as diverse and creative as Scooby Snax, Ice Dragon, and AK-47. Although this and other advisories by NIDA are geared to patients, their relatives, and healthcare professionals, in an effort to facilitate the care of individuals experiencing drug-related adverse events, the DEA resource is also aimed at law enforcement personnel.

In addition, any mention in the media of illicit or prescription drugs sold on the street unavoidably includes a number of other common denominations.

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The DEA report includes a comprehensive list of names, led, in terms of length by cocaine and marijuana. These slang names, for the most part, tend to fall into one of the following categories:

  • Old-fashioned: dope, big H, mole, smack, tootsie roll for heroin; Jane, Mary Jane, MJ for marijuana; bennies, uppers, lid poppers for amphetamine; all-American drug, big C, coca, coca-cola, coke for cocaine; K, special K for ketamine; oxy for oxycodone
  • Food-inspired: avocado, chocolate, chocolate balls, chorizo, gravy, bubble gum, cheese for heroin; blue cheese, broccoli, burrito, cabbage, shrimp for marijuana; blueberries for Percocet
  • Amusing: chapopote, antifreeze for heroin; bambalachacha, big pillows, girl scout cookie for marijuana; goofballs for amphetamine; Aunt Nora, California pancakes, flea market jeans, racehorse Charlie for cocaine; mad hatter for synthetic cannabinoids
  • Culture-inspired: Goodfella, Tango & Cash, Murder 8 for fentanyl; Beyonce, Bozo, Obama, Rambo for heroin; Pineapple Express for synthetic cannabinoids
  • Descriptive: white stuff, brown crystal for heroin
  • Colorful: dragon's breath for fentanyl; Reindeer dust for heroin; Northern lights, yellow submarine for marijuana
  • Effect-inspired: dead on arrival, el diablo, poison for heroin; bananas for hydrocodone; diet pills for amphetamine; brain freeze for synthetic cannabinoids

Street names for a series of drugs including crack cocaine, GHB, clonazepam and LSD are also included.

Click here for a searchable listing of drug slang names.

Reference

DEA Houston Division. Intelligence report. DEA drug slang code words. May 2017. https://www.campusdrugprevention.gov/sites/default/files/DEA%20Drug%20Slang %20Code%20Words%20%28May%202017%29%20%281%29.pdf. Accessed July, 31 2017.