Heroin Addiction: Street Names For Heroin
There are several dozen heroin street names that may be used to refer to the drug. Heroin is a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning that there are no legitimate uses for it, and it is seen as a threat to society.
This determination comes from the impact that heroin has made on untold lives. From people who have lost loved ones to the drug to those who have become addicted themselves and had their lives turned upside down by the substance, there’s no question that heroin is dangerous.
One of the common issues that many people come up against is the slang terms used to describe heroin.
Common Street Names for Heroin
Heroin street names are designed to obscure the truth about the substance, but sometimes, they might simply be something copied from other users. Terms will vary by country, but most of the terms covered in this post deal with North American slang names for heroin.
Heroin’s easy availability and how easy it is to create and mix with other drugs make it difficult to track down. Each new concoction or designer drug has its own heroin street name so that buyers know what they’re looking for.
Street slang usually moves faster than law enforcement, meaning that police are generally unaware of the “newest” variant until it shows up in drug overdose cases.
Heroin at a Glance
Heroin has a very long history as a drug. Opium is a synthetic opioid derived from morphine. When doctors first stumbled across the substance, they saw it as a more potent version of morphine, capable of doing the things its predecessor did without the chance of addiction.
While heroin is more potent than morphine, it also has similar dangerous, addictive properties. These properties didn’t come to light until many doctors were prescribing the drug en masse to patients.
By then, it was too late since several people were addicted to the drug. Congress realized it had to do something and passed the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act (1914), taxing incoming drugs like heroin and opium significantly, making it more expensive for users to get their hands on it.
For a while after that, heroin faded into the background. It never really disappeared but became a less frequently mentioned drug. This dormancy lasted for about seventy years. In the 80s and 90s, however, problems resurfaced when doctors started giving out prescription painkillers.
These painkillers came with opioids that manufacturers convinced doctors were safe for treating chronic pain. It wasn’t until the mid-90s to the early 00s that doctors realized they had been duped.
Opioids were indeed causing massive amounts of prescription drug fraud, not to mention destroying lives in the process. They stopped writing prescriptions for these drugs to deal with chronic pain, but users that were already hooked needed something to keep them functional.
Heroin resurfaced at that point. It was a drug that street gangs and cartels could produce on the cheap. There was a ready market in addicted prescription drug users, and the purity of the substance was never really an issue.
As a result, heroin flooded the world’s markets, especially in the US. The Drug Policy Alliance estimated that in 2016, over 4,000,000 individuals used heroin at least once in their lifetime.
That number is likely to have increased, especially since the opioid epidemic seems to be getting worse. Despite being a controlled substance, it still manages to move around inner-city areas reasonably easily, thanks in part to the codewords that users and dealers use to hide its name.
Alternate Street Names and Nicknames for Heroin
Heroin comes in many different forms and from several sources. Most of the imported heroin that makes its way into the country comes from Mexico. Both the black tar variety and brown powdered variety of heroin come from Mexico in massive volumes.
More refined heroin, such as the white powder variety, are better versions of these Mexican products. They may be made in Mexico and shipped to the US or refined locally to reduce costs. Some of the more common street slang that a user is likely to encounter when it comes to heroin includes:
- Dragon: From the slang “chasing the dragon,” a term that users refer to heating up heroin in tinfoil and inhaling the vapors produced.
- Heron/Heroine/Big H/Horse: Different nicknames derived from the drug’s actual name in everyday usage.
- China White/ White Lady/ White Nurse/ White Horse: All nicknames used for white powder heroin, although some names have been co-opted by mixtures. China White is no longer pure heroin, for example.
- Black Tar/ Black Pearl/ Black Stuff/ Black Eagle: Street names for black tar heroin, taken from the color and texture that this variant of the drug displays.
- Brown Sugar/Brown Crystal/ Brown Tape/ Mexican Brown: Street names used for the impure brown powder version of the drug.
- Mexican Horse/Mexican Mud: Nicknames derived from the place where the drug originated.
- Skunk/Scag/Smack/Dope: Typical street names for heroin, not related to anything but naturally derived from users.
- Number 3/Number 4/ Number 8: There’s no objective evidence as to where these names come from, but some sources suggest it’s based on the potency of the heroin in question.
California Heroin Street Names
These nicknames are all English, but especially in California many users are Latino immigrants who refer to the drug in Spanish slang. Among the nicknames that these communities assign the drug include:
- Polvo (Powder)
- Blanco (White)
- Brea (Tar)
- Caballo (Horse)
- Tigre/Tigre Blanco/Tigre de Norte (Tiger/White Tiger/Tiger of the North)
- Gato (Cat)
- Chicle (Gum)
- Vidrio (Glass)
- Zoquete (Clumsy)
- La Chiva (The Goat)
These terms are only some of the vibrant nicknames that Latin American communities have for the drug, but there are immediate similarities between them and the English terminology for the drug.
It’s likely that a few of these nicknames at least came from one of these communities. The terms simply filtered across to the other one, crossing the language barrier. Knowing the names of the drug in English is no longer enough. The massive spread of the drug doesn’t pay attention to cultural or language barriers.
Street Names for Heroin Drug Combinations
The heroin street names mentioned before are for pure versions of the drug. However, with increasing regularity, drug manufacturers have been upping the ante. Instead of dealing in pure heroin, they instead mix the drug with other substances.
For example, lacing the drug with fentanyl increases its effects and can bring a user seeking a better high. The selling power of the drug increases, and manufacturers can get more profit out of a single batch of the substance. Some of these mixtures and their nicknames include:
- The Five Way: A combination including heroin, cocaine, Rohypnol (the date-rape drug), methamphetamine, and alcohol.
- Meth Speedball: Methamphetamine and heroin
- Cotton Brothers/ New Jack Swing: Morphine mixed with heroin
- H-Bomb/ Chocolate Chip Cookies: MDMA with heroin
- China White: street name for heroin with fentanyl
- Cheese: Cold medicines (typically with some form of methamphetamine in it) and heroin
- Dragon Rock/ Eightball Moonrock: Heroin and crack
- Dynamite/ Goofball/ Snowball/Primo: heroin and cocaine
- LBJ/Beast: LSD and heroin
- Atom Bomb/Woolie: Heroin with marijuana
Drug nicknames change rapidly, so while these might be around for a while, those dealing or using the drug probably use something different. The issue has always been spotting the slang when it’s being used to decipher the message.
Heroin dealers are at the fringes of society, and keeping their slang undecipherable is in their best interests. These mixtures can have a much higher potential for addiction than heroin itself. Additionally, mixing drugs like these together creates unpredictable side effects.
It’s no surprise that these mixtures and cocktails are responsible for a large volume of drug overdoses involving heroin. But how does heroin have this impact on the brain?
Heroin’s Functionality in the Human Body
We already know that heroin is a painkiller, but its addictiveness comes from one of its unexpected side effects. When an individual consumes heroin, they get a massive shot of dopamine to their brains.
The brain usually reserves dopamine for when it wants to reward the individual for something. This flood of dopamine happens when the brain’s opioid receptors become occupied, which heroin does.
While this might seem like a bonus, the feeling of euphoria that heroin produces becomes overwhelming, and users start thinking about how to get the same feeling again. This desire for the drug leads them to seek it out again.
Unfortunately, with each use of the substance, the effects are diminished. The user then needs to use more of the drug or find mixtures that suit their needs.
Over time, the person may become dependent on the substance. Dependency happens when a person’s physiology changes to adapt to the presence of the substance. When this happens, the person needs the drug to operate normally.
Addiction is a brain disease that follows from dependency. When a person starts making questionable decisions and taking unnecessary risks to fulfill their desire for the drug, they’re considered to be addicted.
Addiction might happen because of a person’s use of heroin or because of other street mixtures of the drug. Each carries its own dangers when it comes to becoming addicted.
Recovering from Heroin
Heroin rehab centers have different methods of helping their patients recover from addiction. On a patient’s first visit, they may be asked a few questions to work out the details of their dependency.
A psychologist may also be on hand to discuss the route to recovery with the patient and help them to devise a strategy. Addiction is a very personal issue, and rehab facilities understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
Instead, this initial interview can form a basis for developing a personalized care plan to ensure the program’s success.
Heroin Detox and Withdrawals
Heroin recovery starts with helping the dependent person overcome their physical dependence on the drug. To achieve this, a patient will have to go through controlled withdrawal.
Symptoms of heroin withdrawal vary based on how long the person was a user and how long since their last dosage. While someone can detox at home, it’s not recommended. Withdrawal symptoms can get out of hand and lead to severe issues within a person’s body.
Rehab facilities cater to this by having in-house staff that can deal with medical emergencies should they arise. The withdrawal period usually peaks around the second to the third day of detox.
At the end of a week, the recovering person feels less of an urge to consume the drug because the body has broken its dependence on it.
Treatment for Heroin Addiction
While some people consider detox to be the end of rehab, it’s only the beginning. Detox sets the stage for long-term treatments. These treatments may take place in either inpatient or outpatient facilities.
Inpatient facilities cater to individuals who have a hard time avoiding their psychological urges. They give up their freedom of movement to focus on their recovery plans. Outpatient facilities are more flexible, allowing recovering persons to attend scheduled meetings to update their therapists on their progress.
This methodology gives the recovering person more responsibility and agency in their lives. It ensures that they can deal with recovery without having to give up their professional or social lives.
Typically, inpatient facilities cost more than outpatient facilities, but they may offer payment plans for individuals who cannot cover the cost through insurance.
Choosing a Heroin Rehab Treatment Center
There are many options for heroin treatment in California. The region has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, but rehab facilities have given many residents hope. The Discovery House is one of those facilities that has dedicated itself to helping others overcome their addiction.
Our trained staff is skilled in handling the needs of patients. We’ve been doing this for years, so we know what to expect and how to plan for it. That’s why our personalized treatment plans address your dependency specifically.
If you want to experience professional treatment and a staff that’s dedicated to you achieving your goals, contact us today. We’ll be glad to guide you out of addiction and back into society.