Heroin Street Names, Nicknames, and Slang

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Heroin is an illegal, addictive substance made from morphine and extracted from certain poppy plants.

The high from heroin starts as a surge of euphoria or “rush” followed by drowsiness, brain fog, and slowed breathing and heart rate. The latter two side effects can be life-threatening and lead to coma or permanent brain damage. Other effects include skin flushing, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, and severe itching.

Despite these negative symptoms, heroin is one of the most highly addictive and widely-abused drugs in the world. Recovery from heroin requires comprehensive treatment like that offered at Guardian Recovery.

Due to its illegal nature, a wide range of heroin nicknames and heroin slang have evolved.

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Why Are There Street Names for Heroin?

The main reason for heroin street names is to reduce the chances of being caught by law enforcement while buying or selling the drug. People use these code words to discuss deals without anyone else understanding what they are talking about.

The culture around heroin, its manufacture, and distribution constantly morphs spontaneously and due to necessity. New terms are coined in heroin slang to avoid detection by police officers.

Common Street Names For Heroin

Heroin street names vary by country, but this article will focus on heroin nicknames commonly used in the U.S.

Common Street Names For Heroin:

  • Smack
  • H
  • Junk
  • Brown Sugar
  • Skag (or Skagg)
  • Dope
  • Horse
  • Hell Dust
  • Thunder
  • Big H

Other Slang & Nicknames

Other heroin slang and nicknames depend on the appearance of the drug, as it can take the form of a white or brown powder or black tar heroin.

White powder heroin is the purest form of the substance and is usually snorted or injected. Manufacturers use sugar, starch, baking soda, powdered milk, quinine, or even rat poison to cut the substance. Some of these cutting agents can make heroin event more dangerous to users. Quinine, for instance, can cause blindness.

White heroin is also being cut with other drugs, such as prescription opioids, acetamenophen and over-the-counted antihistamines that contain diphenhydramine.

Names for white powder include:

  • China White
  • Snow
  • Snowball
  • Sugar
  • White
  • White Boy
  • White Girl
  • White Horse
  • White Stuff

Brown heroin is not as refined as white heroin, making it less pure and potent. It has a lower burning temperature than white heroin, and doesn’t dissolve well in water. It is usually smoked, instead of snorted or injected because of these characteristics.

Brown powder heroin street names include:

  • Brown
  • Brown Crystal
  • Brown Tape
  • Brown Rhine
  • Brown Sugar
  • Coffee
  • Dirt

Black tar heroin is the least refined of the three types of heroin, making it less expensive. It is a black, gooey, tar-like substance that can be found in different ranges of color from dark orange to dark brown or black. This type of heroin can be smoked or melted for intravenous use.

Slang names include:

  • Black
  • Black Bitch
  • Black Pearl
  • Black Eagle
  • Black Stuff
  • Cement
  • Diesel
  • Dark

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Common Slang Terms for Heroin Drug Combinations

Often, people will mix heroin with other over-the-counter and illicit drugs in an attempt to produce a more powerful or unique high. These toxic combinations also have street names.

  • Speedball: cocaine and heroin.
  • Boy Scout Cookies: heroin, methamphetamine, and ketamine.
  • Alligatoring: Heroin mixed with crushed antihistamines.
  • Dynamite: Heroin cut with caffeine and codeine tablets.
  • Cheese: Heroin and over-the-counter cold medicines such as Tylenol PM or Benadryl.
  • Bars: Heroin combined with Xanax
  • Chocolate Rock, Dragon Rock, Eightball, or Moonrock: heroin and crack cocaine
  • Crank or Screwball: heroin and methamphetamine (meth)

Knowing these street names and slang terms is important for anyone involved in the prevention, treatment, or education around drug use to better understand the language used on the streets. It’s also crucial for anyone who suspects someone of taking heroin to know these terms to see if their loved one is using the drug and intervene in time.

Signs & Symptoms of Heroin Use

Heroin is a highly addictive substance and users often develop a tolerance, meaning they need more and more of it to get the feeling they are looking for. It’s easy to develop a substance use disorder (SUD) when using heroin, which can cause health problems and prevent users from fullilling their responsibilities at work, home, and school. SUDs can also have severe financial implications.

When you stop using heroin, sometimes even for a few hours, you can experience severe withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Restlesness.
  • Severe muscle and bone pain.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Chills and goosebumps.
  • Uncontrollable leg movements.
  • Severe cravings for the substance.
  • Flu-like symptoms.
  • Severe abdominal cramping.

These side effects make quitting heroin on your own very difficult. One of the safest ways to rid the body of heroin is through medically assisted heroin detoxification, where withdrawal symptoms can be monitored and treated immediately. Guardian Recovery understands how difficult withdrawing from heroin can be and provides 24-hour medical supervision during the detoxification process to keep you safe and comfortable during this all-important phase of your recovery journey.

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People use many street names and slang terms when dealing with heroin and its combinations because it keeps them safe from law enforcement while they buy or sell the substance. Knowing these words is essential to understanding how the drug works and intervening in situations where addiction might be present. If you suspect someone of using heroin, Guardian Recovery can help. We provide comprehensive treatment, including medically-assisted detoxtherapyspecialty programs, and reintegration support. Our caring and experienced administrative, medical, and clinical teams will guide you through every step of your recovery process from the first time you call. We provide a complimentary assessment and a free insurance benefits check and help coordinate local travel to our facility. All you or your loved one has to do is ask for help; we will take care of the rest. Contact us today.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

  1. https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/opioids
  2. https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/heroin
  3. https://www.asahq.org/madeforthismoment/pain-management/opioid-treatment/what-are-opioids/
  4. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-immediate-short-term-effects-heroin-use
  5. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2018-07/DIR-022-18.pdf
  6. https://teens.drugabuse.gov/what-are-common-street-names-heroin

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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