As a parent of teens, I often found myself listening to their conversations and wondering what in the world they were talking about. Every generation of teenagers develops their own unique language. If you did something embarrassing in the presence of your teen back in the 1980s, they would have responded, “Can you believe they did that? Gag me with a spoon.” In today’s world behaving embarrassingly might cause your teen to respond, “Can you believe they did that? How cringey!”
Drug slang initially involved giving drugs unique names to make communicating about them without the true nature of the conversation being revealed easier. Drug slang has evolved over the years. In the 1980s, “dope” referred to marijuana. However, as cannabis became legal in many states, the term “dope” is now mostly used in reference to heroin or crystal meth.
Today’s teens have also added a new twist to how they communicate in general and specifically how they communicate about drugs. Twenty-first century teens communicate using the language they are fluent in—emojis. Emojis can seem deceptively innocent to parents who tend to take them at face value. The problem with the colorful, cartoonish faces, hand gestures, animals, fruits, and other emoji symbols is that they often mean more than their face value meaning. It’s not uncommon for teens to have entire conversations via emojis making it easy to dupe parents and keep the true meaning of their conversation hidden.
Whether your teen is using words or emojis, here are some of the current ways common drugs are referred to.
Snow, Dust, Nose Candy, Coco, Blow, Pearl, Powder, White, Devil’s Dandruff, Ice, Charlie, Bump, Yale
Hash, Dojo, 420, Mary Jane, Herb, Pot, Reefer
Crank, Chalk, Glass, Shards, Gak, Fire, Speed, Ice, Crystal, Tweak, Tina, Walter White
Smack, H, Black Tar, Junk, Black, Dragon, White Horse, Skag, Dope, Black, Tootsie Roll, Brown Sugar, Anti-freeze
Ecstasy, X, Superman, XTC, Adam, Beans, Love Drug, Happy Pill, Scooby Snacks, Smarties, Skittles, Vitamin E or X, Molly, E-Bomb, Disco Biscuits, Dancing Shoes, Thizz
Shrooms, Liberty, Caps, Alice, Boomers, Simple Simon
Additional Drug Slang
In addition to the code names for different drugs, the following emojis also have meanings connected to drugs:
Drug dealer or supplier (someone who can hook you up)
Getting drunk (this can also mean a high-grade marijuana)
So what’s a parent to do?
Decode their messages.
If you see or hear something you don’t understand or a text containing the symbols listed above, seek out assistance in deciphering what your teen is saying. The app ‘Speak Emoji’ can be used to help translate what your teen and their friends are saying.
Set limits around your teen’s utilization of technology.
One in four teenagers have seen drugs advertised on social media, and 78 percent of tweens and 91.1 percent of teens engaged in conversations surrounding drugs or alcohol using social media platforms. As a parent, it is OK to set limits around…
- Which platforms your teen can use
- How much time they can spend on these platforms
- How much access you have to their communications
Talk to them.
If you suspect your teen may be having conversations about drugs, talk with them. It is important not to accuse them or lecture them. You can start the conversation with a statement like, “I’ve been concerned about you.” Let them know you care and that you want to help.
Seek help early.
It is easy to explain away unusual behavior or to excuse drops in grades, changes in friends, or other behaviors which might indicate your child is becoming involved in unhealthy activities.
If you are worried about your teen and they are unwilling to talk with you, schedule an appointment with a therapist. If your teen objects, let them know you understand you may be wrong, but you would take them to the doctor if you suspected they were having issues with their heart and would let the doctor decide if there was a problem. Be clear that this a consultation appointment and doesn’t mean they have a problem. The appointment is because you need help figuring out if something is wrong.
It is normal for teens to engage in their own private conversations using language designed to keep parents out of their world. Wise parents walk the line of allowing this while also staying tuned in and keeping a pulse on what is going on in these conversations.