A parents' guide to drug slang


Teen doing a skating trick in a garage

​Have you heard your kids talk about nangs, caps, bath salts or blue nitro? Or does it sound like they’re talking in code? Between having FOMO (fear of missing out) and living like YOLO (you only live once), sometimes it can feel like you need a translator to talk to your kids, especially teens.

In spite of your feelings of being out of the loop, it’s important to work on maintaining open lines of communication with your kids. Being able to talk openly about alcohol and other drugs will help you maintain a good quality relationship and allow them to feel safe and make informed choices about their health.

“Although it may not feel like it, parents can have the biggest influence on their teenager, by being a positive role model and providing lots of love, boundaries and clear expectations.”

Dr Bronwyn Milne, specialist in Adolescent Medicine at The Children’s Hospital Westmead provides the following advice: “The teenage years can be really challenging not only for young people but also their parents. Although it may not feel like it, parents can have the biggest influence on their teenager, by being a positive role model and  providing lots of love, boundaries and clear expectations. When it comes to drugs and alcohol, a good relationship and open communication, can help young people make positive choices and reduce their risk of harm”. 

If you think your child is using drugs, it's important not to panic.  Try to approach the issue with a calm, non-judgemental attitude and at a time that is good for both of you to talk. It may help to think about why your child may want to use drugs and work on solutions together.

Deciphering the code

Depending on where you live and the time at which you’re reading this, a lot can change in the drug slang / street name landscape. Some names may change to refer to two types of drugs or names may also refer to non-drugs, therefore it’s important not to jump to assumptions.

The method of intake may be part of the conversation which can apply to multiple substances, for example ‘lines’ can refer to cocaine, speed or any powdered drug that is snorted. ‘Shots’ may refer to any drug that is injected into the bloodstream, but also refers to a 30ml alcohol shot or ‘shooter’. ‘Caps’ can relate to drugs that are sold as a pill or capsule such as MDMA/ecstasy or magic mushrooms. ‘Tabs’ may refer to small squares of paper that contain a dose of LSD or acid (varying in strength), they might also be called ‘blotters’. If you don’t know what your child is talking about, simply and calmly ask them to explain it to you.

You don’t have to learn all of the street names and become a drug expert to help your child.

The following isn’t necessarily an exhaustive list but is a start to understanding and approaching an open conversation.

The A-Z of drug slang or street names

  • Alcohol – booze, drink, goon, juice, liquor, piss, sauce, grog, plonk
  • Amyl Nitrite / alkyl nitrites – amyl, climax, heart-on, jungle juice, aroma, nitrate, nitro, poppers, quicksilver, rush, thrust, DVD cleaner, leather cleaner
  • Anabolic Steroids – andro, arnies, a's, balls, bulls, caseys, gear, gym candy, hgh, juice, performance & image enhancing drugs, pumpers, roids, stackers, steroids, vets' drugs, weight trainers
  • Benzodiazepines – benzos, downers, moggies, normies, roofies, rowies, seros, sleepers, temazzies, tranks, tranquillisers, v, vals, Xanax, zanies
  • Cannabis – bhang, bud, choof, dope, ganja, grass, hash, hashish, hemp, home grown, hydro, kif, marijuana, many jane, mull, oobie, pot, resin, skunk, wack weed, yarndi, zero, cones
  • Cocaine – blow, charlie, coke, cola, crack, dust, freebase, llello, nose candy, snow, toot, white
  • Ecstasy / MDMA – adam, ck, disco biscuit, e, caps, eccy or ecky, pills, scooby snacks, x, xtc, pingers, sweets, lollies
  • Fentanyl – china girl, china white, dance fever, goodfella, murder 8, TNT, Tango and cash
  • Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) – blue nitro, fantasy, g, gamma hydroxybutyrate, gbh, ghb, gina, grievous bodily harm, liquid e, liquid x, liquid soap, GBL, gamma butyrolactone, bute, 1, 4-BD, 4-butanediol, georgia home boy, soap-e
  • Hallucinogens / LSD – L, acid, blotter, cid, microdot, tabs, doses, trips, zen, lucy, lucy in the sky with diamonds, california sunshine, window pane, battery acid, dots, looney toons, superman
  • Hallucinogenic mushrooms or psilocybin - liberty caps, liberties, magic mushrooms, mushrooms, sacred mushrooms, shrooms, gold tops, boomers, mushies, blue meanies, cubes, buttons
  • Heroin – china girl, china white, dragon, gear, h, hammer, harry, horse, junk, opioids, opium, skag, smack
  • Inhalants – bagging, chroming, gas, glue, huffing, inhaling, poppers, rush, snappers, sniffing
  • Ketamine – cat tranquilizer, ket, ketaset, ketalar, kitkat, lady k, special k, super k, vitamin k, K
  • Methadone – physeptone, biodone, done
  • Methamphetamine / Stimulants – amphetamine, methamphetamine, base, crank, crystal, crystal meth, eye openers, glass, go-ee, ice, meth, oxblood, paste, rev, Ritalin, shabu, speed, tweak, uppers, wax, whiz, zest, gas, tina, T
  • Nitrous Oxide – laughing gas, nitro, N2O, NOS, Nangs, whippet, whipits, hippy crack, buzz bomb, balloons
  • Other synthetic drugs – bath salts, spice, spice gold, zombie, flakka, n-bomb, K2, fake weed, bliss, black mamba, smiles, scooby snacks (can also refer to diazepam and a type of mushroom), gypsy herbs, herbal ecstasy

Getting advice or help

If after talking you're still worried or you think drugs are impacting their learning, friendships or physical safety, please seek professional support. The following organisations offer free and confidential advice:

  • Alcohol Drug Information Service (ADIS) NSW. Our help line is open 24 hours a day to provide support to people who are having issues with alcohol or other drugs, are concerned about someone else's alcohol or other drug use. Call 1800 250 015.
  • Family Drug Support (FDS) is a caring, non-religious and non-judgemental organisation that provides support and assistance to families throughout Australia who are dealing with a family member who is using drugs. Call 1300 368 186.
  • ReachOut Parents is a service that provides parents with one-on-one support, self-help resources and an online discussion forum.
  • Parent Line is a telephone and online counselling service for parents and carers. Call 1300 130 052 or start a private online chat at facebook.com/parentlinenewsouthwales.

For free and confidential advice 24/7 call Family Drug Support on 1300 368 186 or Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 250 015. Counsellors are available to provide information, referrals, crisis counselling and support. Or start a Web Chat with an ADIS counsellor online Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 5pm. ADIS can also provide up-to-date information about service availability in your area during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Your Room > What's New > A parents' guide to drug slang