Important Opioid Use Terms

More people are becoming aware of the power and danger of Opioids. Here is a list of key terms about Opioid use. This terminology can provide a basic understanding of the concepts and challenges of the current Opioid crisis.


Opioids (or Opiates) are a category of drugs which interact with Opioid receptors in the brain. They are central nervous system depressants which originate in the Opium poppy plant. Since Opioids block sensations of pain, they are the main ingredients in many prescribed medications. Opioids also cause powerful sensations of euphoria. Drug traffickers manufacture and sell Opioids illegally as recreational drugs and as counterfeit painkillers, and they are addictive and can cause fatal overdoses.

Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction is a disease which is characterized by Opioid cravings, compulsive Opioid abuse, and Opioid withdrawal. A person could become addicted to Opioids after using them only once. Treatment for Opioid addiction involves detox, medication, and therapy.

Opioid Analgesics

An analgesic is another word for a painkiller. Opioid analgesics are Opioid-based medications that doctors prescribe to treat chronic pain.  Patients can misuse them by taking too many or by failing to abide by the timetable of their prescriptions. Opioid painkillers can be addictive.

Opioid Epidemic

The Opioid Epidemic, also known as the Opioid Crisis, is a nationwide health crisis that has claimed the lives of about 400,000 Americans since 1999. The Opioid Epidemic is the result of doctors overprescribing addictive Opioid-based painkillers, often at the behest of the pharmaceutical companies which manufacture them. Since the Opioid Epidemic began, there has been a surge of Opioid overdoses and cases of addiction throughout the United States.

Opioid Withdrawal

Opioid withdrawal refers to the physical and psychological symptoms that a person who has an Opioid addiction experiences when they stop using, or reduce their dosage of, Opioids. The sudden absence of Opioids from that person’s body can shock their nervous system. The symptoms of Opioid withdrawal include insomnia, vomiting, tremors, muscle aches, and sweating.


An overdose is a medical emergency that occurs when a person uses more Opioids than their nervous system can process or uses an Opioid which is exceedingly powerful. During an overdose, a person may stop breathing and die. Naloxone and other medications can reverse the effects of an Opioid overdose.

Synthetic Opioids

Synthetic Opioids are drugs which chemists synthesize in laboratories to imitate the effects of natural Opioids. They are used in medicine as well as in drug trafficking. Fentanyl and other Synthetic Opioids have contributed greatly to the recent increase in fatal Opioid overdoses throughout the county.

Brand Names for Common Prescription Opioids

Doctors and nurses use a variety of Opioids to treat severe, chronic pain in patients who are fighting serious diseases or undergoing surgery. Opioid-based medications can take the form of pills, tablets, or sublingual sprays and films. All Opioids are controlled substances, so patients must have a prescription to legally use them.

  • Buprenorphine – Suboxone®, Subutex®, Buprenex®, Zubsolv®, Sublocade®, Temgesic®
  • Fentanyl – Actiq®, Fentora®, Duragesic®, Abstral®, Onsolis®
  • Hydrocodone – Vicodin®, Lortab®, Lorcet®, Norco®, Zydone®, Hysingla®
  • HydromorphoneExalgo®, Dilaudid®
  • Meperidine – Demerol®
  • Methadone – Methadose®, Dolophine®
  • Morphine – Kadian®, Roxanol®, Raxanol-T®, MS Contin®, AVINza®, MSIR®, Morphabond®, Oramorph®, RMS®
  • OxycodoneOxyContin®, Percocet®, Roxicodone®, Oxaydo®, Xtampza ER®
  • Oxymorphone – Opana®, Opana ER®
  • Propoxyphene – Darvocet®, Darvon®, Balacet®, Propacet®, Wygesic®
  • Sufentanil – Dsuvia®, Sufenta®
  • Tramadol – Ultram®, ConZip®, Rybix®, Ryzolt®, FusePaq Synapryn®, Ultracet®

Street Names for Opioids as Illegal Drugs

Drug traffickers exploit people who have addictions to Opioids by selling them contraband Opioid-based medications, such as diverted OxyContin®, or Opioid-based recreational drugs, such as Heroin.

  • Buprenorphine – Subs, Strips, Oranges, Sobos, Stops
  • Codeine – Cody, Captain Cody, Little C, Schoolboy
    • Lean – Sizzurp, Purple Drank, “Syrup”
  • Fentanyl (or Heroin laced with Fentanyl) – Apache, Murder 8, Shine, Friend, Goodfella, Jackpot, TNT, Percopop, China girl
  • Heroin – Smack, Hell Dust, Big H, Junk, Dope, China White, “Brown Sugar,” Skag, Skunk, Thunder
  • Hydrocodone – Vikes, Vicos, Vics, Hydros, Norcos, Tabs, Stratch, Lorris, 357s
  • Hydromorphone – Smack, Juice, Dillies
  • Meperidine  – Dust, D
  • Methadone – Amidone, Fizzies, “Chocolate Chip Cookies”
  • Morphine – Morpho, Dreamer, “God’s drug,” MS, Mister Blue, Unkie
  • Oxycodone – Oxys, Percs, Oxycotton, Oxytocin, Blue, Hillbilly Heroin, Kickers, 512s
  • Oxymorphone – Blue Heaven, Biscuits, Octagons, Stop Signs, O bomb, Mrs. O
  • Propoxyphene – Pinks, “Pink Footballs,” “Yellow Footballs”, 65s
  • Tramadol – Ultras, Trammies, Chill Pills

A Slang Dictionary for Heroin Use

Heroin is one the most popular Opioids. It is highly dangerous and addictive. Unlike most of the other Opioids in this article, it has no medical usefulness, and it’s completely illegal. In 2017, more than 15,000 Americans suffered a fatal overdose on Heroin. Since Heroin is a prevalent illegal Opioid and a major contributor to the Opioid Epidemic, anyone who wants to understand Opioids should be familiar with the language of this dangerous substance.

Expressions for Using Heroin

  • “Shooting” or “shooting up” – injecting Heroin
  • “Chasing the dragon” – smoking Heroin
  • “Cooking” – preparing Heroin for injection by dissolving it in water
  • “Channel swimmer” – a regular Heroin user
  • “Nodding off” or “Nodding out” – the sleep-like behavior that a person exhibits when they use Heroin
  • “Give wings” – showing someone how to use Heroin

Terms for Heroin Combined with Other Drugs

  • Atom bomb- a mixture of Heroin and Marijuana
  • Chocolate bars – a mixture of Heroin and Xanax
  • H-bomb – a mixture of Heroin and Ecstasy
  • Neon nod- a mixture of Heroin and LSD
  • Screwball – a mixture of Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Dynamite – a mixture of Heroin with Cocaine
  • Speedballing – the act of mixing Heroin and Crack Cocaine
  • Dragon Rock – a mixture of Heroin and Crack Cocaine
  • El Diablo – a mixture of Heroin, Marijuana, and Cocaine