Teen Drug Abuse
In addition to asking my teen patients if they are using drugs, I often ask if their friends or other kids they know at school are using and abusing drugs.
Surprising to many parents, most teens are very forthright with their answers, either admitting to their own underage drinking or drug use, or at the very least, discussing what is readily available at their school and in the community.
That makes it important to understand the latest drug lingo. For example, when a teen recently told me that kids at school were doing 'lines,' I was surprised to think that they were snorting cocaine. Instead, not that it was much better, but he was referring to crushing and snorting prescription painkillers, like vicodin, oxycontin, and percocet, etc. He also said that kids might do lines of crushed Xanax and whatever else they could get.
From OTC and prescription medications to street drugs, some common drug slang being used today includes:
- Blunt - marijuana rolled in cigar paper
- Bowl - part of a bong and can also refer to a bowlful of marijuana, as in 'smoking a bowl'
- Cheese - heroin mixed with OTC cold medicine
- Coke - cocaine, also called crack, snow, or blow
- Crank - methamphetamine, also called meth or ice
- E - ecstacy
- Georgia Home Boy - ketamine
- kibbles n' bits - mix of Ritalin (prescription drug used to treat ADHD) and Talwin, a prescription pain medication
- Mary Jane - marijuana, also weed, pot, and grass, etc.
- Molly - a purer, powder or crystal form of MDMA (ecstasy)
- OCs - oxycontin, a prescription pain medicine
- Percs - percocet, a prescription pain medicine
- Roids - anabolic steroids, also called juice
- Smack - heroin, also called junk or horse
- Special K - GHB (Gamma hydroxybutyrate)
- Spice - a brand name of synthetic marijuana, another is K2
- Syrup - also called Drank, Sizzurp, Lean, which is promethazine with codeine (prescription cough syrup) mixed with soda.
- Trail Mix - a mixture of various prescription medications drugs
- Triple C - Coricidin HBP Cough and Cold, which contains dextromethorphan (cough medicine)
- Vikes - vicodin, a prescription pain medicine
- Vitamin R - also called Rittys and Rits - slang for prescription Ritalin
Why know these terms?
You don't necessarily need to know drug slang to talk to your kids about drugs, but it might help to recognize your own teen's drug abuse if you hear him using these terms or see him texting them.
According to the The Partnership at Drugfree.org, you should know the lingo of teen culture because "your first step in helping protect your teens is to speak the same language. Knowing the vocabulary surrounding prescription drug abuse can help you take a proactive approach in communicating with your teen and safeguarding their health and safety."
Slang for Using Drugs
In addition to learning the slang terms for the drugs listed above, become familiar with some of the slang that is used when kids are taking drugs, including:
- 420 - smoking marijuana
- baked - high on marijuana, also stoned
- blaze - smoke marijuana
- buzzed - drinking alcohol to the point of being almost drunk
- candy flipping - mixing LSD or acid with ecstacy
- crunking - drinking and doing drugs and the same time
- dexing - abusing cough syrup, also called robotripping
- hippy flipping - mixing psychedelic mushrooms with ecstacy
- huffing - abusing spray paint, glue, bath salts, canned air, or other things around the house to get high, also may be referred to as bagging, dusting, or sniffing
- pharming - raiding or getting prescription drugs from someone's medicine cabinet and taking them to get high
- pre-game - to drink before going to a party
- juicing - taking anabolic steroids to get big muscles
- speeding - using stimulants, like amphetamines
- tweaking - using meth or methamphetamines
It is also important to keep in mind that like other slang, the lingo surrounding drug slang changes every day. If you hear a word that you don't know or your kids are using a word that seems out of context, ask them about it.
Teen Drug Abuse Trends
Unfortunately, teen drug use continues to rise.
Marijuana use has especially been going up in the past five years, with reports that up to 6.5 percent of kids in 8th grade, 17.0 percent of kids in 10th grade, and 22.9 percent of senior high school students stating that they have used marijuana in the past month.
Although huffing, tweaking, and the use of cocaine are down, almost 4 percent of seniors reported taking ecstacy, about 3 percent used cocaine, and 28 percent got drunk in the past month.
Talk to your kids regularly about drugs and alcohol, including the dangers of drinking and taking drugs and how to avoid drugs.
Watching for the above slang terms might help as you talk to your kids and also learn to recognize if your child or his friends are taking drugs. It is also important to be aware of the latest drugs that kids could possibly be abusing.
Have you heard of krokodil? Described as the 'flesh-eating drug,' there are anecdotal reports that it has come to the United States, after growing in popularity in other countries, especially Russia. The drug, a homemade version of desomorphine, is made from codeine using hydrochloric acid, iodine and red phosphorous as reactants and either gasoline or paint thinner as a solvent. The final, rather impure drug, is then injected into the users veins. Not surprisingly, its use can cause green, scaly sores on the users skin, leading to deep abscesses and gangrene.
Hopefully the average teen will never try krokodil, but if you aren't aware of all of these drugs, from synthetic marijuana and bath salts to the abuse of canned air, you likely won't be aware that you kids could be using them.
Hamilton, Matt. Krokodil, more perilous than heroin, possibly surfaces in Arizona . Los Angelas Times. September 28, 2013.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. DrugFacts. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/term/160/DrugFacts Accessed September 2013.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Monitoring the Future. Data Tables and Figures. December 2012. Accessed September 2013.