The Dope Show: Heroin in Pop Culture

misusing opioids

A large number of people in the United States have admitted to misusing opioids, such as heroin at least once. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2016, about 948,000 Americans reported using heroin in the past year, a number that has been on the rise since 2007. This trend appears to be driven largely by young adults aged 18–25 among whom there have been the greatest increases. That is a terrifying number, especially if you are a parent. You may be wondering how you missed the warning signs or how you didn’t pick up on what your child was doing. The truth is that they may have been talking about it right in front of you and you didn’t even know it.

The Many Names For Heroin

You may rarely hear heroin called by its actual name among those who use it. They may not talk about drugs in the open or not easily open up if they have an addiction. To disguise the purchase or use of heroin, a lingo has been developed to make it not as noticeable. Below is a list of nicknames and common street names for heroin:

● Smack
● H
● Tar
● Junk
● Brown Sugar
● Skag
● Mud
● Dragon
● Dope
● China White
● White Horse
● Black Tar
● Black Pearl
● Black Eagle
● Brown Crystal
● Brown Tape
● Brown Rhine
● Snow
● Skunk

What’s incredibly interesting is that so many of the names used above are prevalent in our popular culture. Songwriters, singers, rappers and musicians have been known to work verses about this popular drug into their songs. During the 1960’s and 1970’s The Rolling Stones, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and The Ramones have all either written songs in which heroin use was featured prominently or they have sung about it. Many times the word heroin was disguised by using one of the slang terms used above. Popular artists from John Lennon to Joni Mitchell to U2 have also recorded songs that seemingly reference heroin by a common slang term.

misusing opioidsIn the mid 1990’s the term “heroin chic” became a pop culture reference and was characterized by pale skin, dark circles underneath the eyes, and a very skinny body. It reached a very high cultural awareness level when “heroin chic” was referenced in a Seinfeld episode in which Jerry asks Elaine about her poofed hair-do and Elaine replied, “It’s the new look. You know, Heroin Chic?” From the late 90’s to present day, pop culture icons such as Marilyn Manson, Chris Brown, and Migos have included phrases about heroin in their songs as well.

Heroin Is Harmful, Not Glamorous

Despite the Hollywood glamorization of heroin, an actual addiction to heroin is not glamorous nor is it pretty. It is very harmful and can be devastating to the user, their friends and their families. It is extremely important to be aware of the slang terms for heroin and other drugs. The more you understand slang terms associated with drug abuse, the more you will be able to monitor unusual behavior.

If you are hearing your loved one use heroin slang combined with noticeably unusual behavior, this could be a strong warning sign that they need help. Providing yourself with knowledge is one of the most important things you can do to keep your loved one safe and get them the help that they need.

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