Heroin is an opiate, highly addictive and many times more powerful than the the drug from which it is synthesized, morphine. Heroin is illegal in the U.S., and all heroin manufactured or trafficking in the U.S. is considered illicit. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), heroin is a Schedule I drug, which means it has no pharmaceutical value.
The desired effects of heroin are euphoria, drowsiness, and pain relief. The chemical makeup and purity of heroin can vary widely, and from a visual perspective, may be white, brown, black, or any shade in between. Heroin can be injected intravenously, snorted, or smoked.
Heroin is both highly addictive and potentially deadly. Alone or with other drugs it can cause life-threatening central nervous system depression. Long-term use results in tolerance, or the need for increasingly high doses to achieve the safe effect. This increased dosage also increases the risk of overdose, coma, or death.
Slang for heroin includes a variety of names, some which describe the appearance of types of heroin, others which describe heroin in combination with other drugs.
Parents should be aware of the slang for heroin that teenagers often use. If you hear your teenager using or texting these phrases in conjunction with other signs of use, you should confront him or her in a supportive manner, immediately.
Please note that these lists are not exhaustive. Names are changed and new names arise all the time, some in part to disguise use of the substance (fear of being overhead by others).
Common Slang for Heroin
- Horse or Mexican horse
- Black tar or black pearl
- Brown sugar
- Witch hazel
- Birdie powder
- White stuff, China white
- Number 2
Spanish Slang for Heroin
- La Buena
Slang for Heroin Mixed with Other Drugs
Heroin can be combined with other drugs, including cocaine, crack, cold medication, ecstasy, LSD, marijuana, methamphetamine, and morphine, When used alone, heroin can cause overdose and fatality, but when combined with other drugs, the risk of adverse effects, complications, and overdose may increase sharply.
- A-bomb/atom bomb: Heroin and Marijuana
- Beast, Neon nod: Heroin and LSD
- Boy-girl, Dynamite: Heroin and cocaine
- Cheese: Heroin and acetaminophen
- Chocolate bars: Heroin and Xanax
- Chocolate chip cookies: Heroin, MDMA, methadone
- Cotton brothers: heroin, cocaine, morphine
- Dragon rock, Primo: heroin and crack cocaine
- El diablo: Heroin, cocaine, marijuana
- H-bomb: Heroin and ecstasy
- LBJ: Heroin, LSD, PCP
- Meth speed ball, Screwball: Heroin and methamphetamine
- New Jack Swing: heroin, morphine
In addition, heroin use often occurs along with use of another substance. These include stimulants, alcohol, marijuana, and benzodiazepines. Among these, alcohol and benzos are the most commonly used. And unfortunately, they are both nervous system depressants, meaning that they also can slow respiration and heart rate. These substances, when added to heroin, enhance the effects of each other, and can result in a very risky combination.
More Facts About Heroin
2011 estimates revealed that over 4 million people in the U.S. had experimented with heroin, and 23% of these users developed an addiction.
Those who engage in non-prescription use of opioids (narcotic painkillers) are 3 times as likely to use heroin than the rest of the population. Nearly 50% of heroin users admit to first abusing painkillers.
It is common for persons who get addicted to opioid painkillers to switch to heroin after their supply runs out, or they can no longer afford it.
Signs of Heroin Use
In addition to recognizing slang for heroin, it is also very helpful for parents to be able to identify signs & symptoms of heroin use. The include:
Physical and Psychological Symptoms
- Drowsiness, slowed movements
- Appearance of intoxication – attention and memory problems.
- Small pupils
- Slurred speech
- Collapsed veins
- Scars from lesions
- Nasal ulcerations
- Injuries from accidents or violence
- Appearance of intoxication
- General changes in behavior
- Decreased academic performance
- Frequenting new circle of friends
- Increased absences from work or school
- Possession of syringes or suspicious-looking paraphernalia
- Avoidance of formerly enjoyed activities such as hobbies or sports
- Impaired judgment
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
Heroin withdrawal is not typically life-threatening. However, it is very unpleasant, and has the distinction of having it’s own disparaging moniker, “dope sick”. If you notice your child presents with several of the following symptoms, they may be going through heroin withdrawal.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sweating and/or chills
- Goose bumps
- Runny nose, watery eyes
- Dilated pupils
- General feeling of dissatisfaction or unease
- Apparent sensitivity to pain
Heroin Overdose Signs and Symptoms
If your teen or someone you know presents with the following symptoms, please call 911 immediately. First responders often have anti-overdose medication (naloxone) which can quickly and effectively reverse the effects of an overdose.
- Weak pulse/low blood pressure
- Shallow or no breathing
- Pinpoint pupils
- Blue-colored lips and nails
- Discolored tongue
Please, do not assume that your child is not capable of drug use or addiction. It can happen to anyone. It is not a moral issue, nor is it a lack of willpower. It’s a combination of factors. Teenagers do not have fully develop brains, and tend to be impulsive and lack judgment. This fact appears to contribute to drug experimentation.
That said, you don’t have to jump to conclusion every time your teen has the sniffles or appears to be behaving oddly. This is normal. But if your child is using, you will likely observe many warning signs, which all together draw a bigger picture which you can clearly see.