Heroin Street Names: Slang for Heroin Use

Heroin is an illicit and highly addictive opioid drug made from morphine, which comes from the opium poppy plant. Heroin use has been steadily rising in the U.S. since 2007.1 It’s important to be aware of all of the different heroin street names so that you can detect if someone you know, like your teen, sibling, spouse, or friend is using heroin.

In this article:

Street Names for Heroin

Heroin is an illegal, Schedule I drug which means it has a high risk of dependence and misuse and no acceptable medical use. This means the slang for heroin is constantly changing as sellers and buyers of the drug try to evade getting in trouble with law enforcement. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration has a comprehensive list of street names for heroin that they regularly update as they become aware of new terms.

Some of the more common heroin street names that have been used include:2

  • Dope
  • Smack
  • Big H
  • Junk
  • Skag
  • Snow
  • Horse
  • China white
  • Brown
  • Beast
  • Hero
  • Black Tar
  • Chiva
  • Hell dust
  • Negra
  • Thunder

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Heroin Street Names for Use

Not only are there slang terms for the drug itself, but street names also exist for the act of using heroin. Some of the common terms used to describe heroin use are:

  • Chasing the dragon
  • Dip and dab
  • Give wings
  • Channel swimmer
  • Jolly pop
  • Daytime (being high) and evening (coming down from the high)
  • Paperboy

Street Names for Mixing Heroin with Other Drugs

Many people who use heroin also use other substances, such as cocaine, fentanyl, or methamphetamine. It is common to mix heroin with other drugs in attempts to intensify the effects or offset some of the negative effects of one substance.

When you mix heroin with other drugs, a whole new list of street names emerges. Some of the common mixtures include:2

  • Dynamite, Speedball, and Bombita are street names for mixing heroin and cocaine.
  • Primo and dragon rock are street names for mixing heroin and crack.
  • Screwball and Goofball are street names for mixing heroin and meth.
  • H-bomb refers to mixing heroin and ecstasy.
  • Neon nod is a name for mixing heroin and LSD (or acid).
  • Chocolate bars are a mixture of heroin and Xanax.
  • Atom bomb or A-bomb is the name for heroin and marijuana.
  • El diablo is a street name for a mixture of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana.
  • LBJ refers to heroin, LSD, and PCP mixed.
  • Chiva Loca is a name for mixing heroin and fentanyl.

What Does Heroin Look, Taste, and Smell Like?

The most common version of heroin is in powder form, which can be white or brown. The term “black tar heroin” refers to another form that looks like a black, sticky substance.

Heroin often has a vinegar-like odor to it because of the chemicals used to process the drug, although sometimes it can be odorless. It also has a bitter taste.

Since heroin is an unregulated street drug, it is almost always cut with several additives, such as sugar, starch, or powdered milk.3 These additives can clog blood vessels leading to the kidneys, liver, lungs, and brain, leading to permanent organ damage.5 Dealers may also cut heroin with other drugs, such as fentanyl, an extremely potent and deadly opioid that is responsible for countless overdose deaths in the U.S.

How Do People Use Heroin?

Heroin can be injected, smoked, or snorted. Usually, “pure” heroin is snorted or smoked (although it is hardly ever uncut with other substances). Heroin cut with other substances is often dissolved in a liquid and injected into veins, muscles, or under the skin.

These methods of use allow the drug to enter an individual’s brain very quickly and affect the receptors that deal lead to pain relief and euphoria. This is what provides the “rush” or the “high” you feel when using heroin.

Signs That Someone Is Using Heroin

If you are wondering if someone you love might be using heroin, knowing the street names and slang terms can help decode some of their language. There are other signs you can look for, although signs and symptoms will vary depending on many factors like your genetics, how much heroin you use, and how often. Some typical signs of heroin use include:3,5

  • Vomiting
  • Going on the nod, a state of alternating consciousness and semiconsciousness
  • Excessive itching
  • Poor mental functioning
  • Drowsiness
  • Constricted pupils
  • Extreme euphoria followed by sleep
  • Behavioral changes, like avoiding loved ones or lying
  • Scabs, bruises, injection marks, or track lines on their extremities
  • Nosebleeds from snorting heroin

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Signs of Heroin Overdose

Unfortunately, overdose is a real possibility for your loved ones when they use heroin. The CDC found in their recent survey that over 14,000 people in the United States died of a drug overdose involving heroin in 2019.4 Signs of heroin overdose may include:4,5

  • Shallow or slow breathing
  • Small pupils
  • Weak pulse
  • Bluish tint to the nails and lips
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Coma

If you notice signs of overdose in your loved one, call 911 or seek emergency medical care immediately. Administer naloxone if you have it on hand. If you suspect your child or family member is using heroin, it’s best to keep naloxone in the household or on you at all times. It is a life-saving medication that rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Depending on what state you live in, you can likely buy it over the counter at pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS. Many harm reduction organizations also provide it for free.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

If your loved one has been using heroin and suddenly tries to stop or cannot get access to the drug anymore, they will experience heroin withdrawal symptoms, which are unpleasant and painful. Heroin withdrawal symptoms may include:5

  • Restlessness and sleep problems
  • Complaining about muscle or bone pain
  • Stomach cramping, diarrhea, and/or vomiting
  • Experiencing cold sweats with goosebumps
  • Uncontrollable motor movements in legs or arms

How to Help a Loved One

If you think someone you love may be using heroin, there are treatment options available to help. Whether your loved one gets the treatment they need is ultimately up to them, but if you are looking for ways to help, there are a few options, such as:

  • Educate yourself about heroin and heroin use.
  • Plan a drug intervention meeting for your loved one, preferably using a professional interventionist.
  • Encourage and support your loved one from a place of compassion and empathy.
  • Identify inpatient heroin treatment options near you.
  • Help your loved one find a program that suits their needs.
  • Join them in therapy sessions if needed.

If you or someone you love is using heroin, please call 844-431-5818(Who Answers?) for 24/7 help toward sobriety.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Research Report Series: Heroin. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health.
  2. United States Drug Enforcement Administration. (2018). Slang Terms and Code Words: A Reference for Law Enforcement Personnel. United States Department of Justice.
  3. United States Drug Enforcement Administration. (2020). Drug Fact Sheet: Heroin. United States Department of Justice.
  4. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Heroin Overdose Data. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Heroin DrugFacts. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health.

the Take-Away

Street names for heroin can vary depending on a person’s location and language, but there are some names that are used very widely.