Street Names for Heroin and Other Heroin Slang Terms

Common street names for heroin include china white and smack, and often black tar heroin is also mentioned. Learn the slang for heroin.

As is the case for all illegal drugs, there are many other names for heroin. Slang for heroin and other drugs was partly developed to hide heroin use discussions from others, and partly developed organically in reference to the drug culture itself.

Street names for heroin and slang for heroin tend to be regional, but some of the street names for heroin include:

  • Gear
  • Number 8 (for the eighth letter of the alphabet, 'h')
  • Chiva
  • Brownstone
  • Murder 1
  • Smack
  • China white - a very pure form of heroin
  • Dr. Feelgood (also refers to a doctor who is willing to overprescribe drugs)
  • Dope (although can also refer to other drugs like cannabis)
  • Junk (common to all "hard" drugs)
  • Caballo (Spanish slang)

Slang for Heroin - Chasing the Dragon

The phrase "chasing the dragon" is actually a slang phrase of Cantonese origin. "Chasing the dragon" refers to inhaling the vapor (the dragon) from heated heroin, morphine or opium. Specifically, the term "chasing the dragon" refers to the way in which a heroin user keeps the heated, liquid drug moving so it does not form into a single mass.1

"Chasing the dragon" is also commonly used metaphorically. When a heroin addict seeks to re-experience the same high as the first time they used heroin, they are said to be "chasing the dragon" - a high they will never again experience.

"Chasing the dragon" should not be confused with "chasing the white dragon" as the latter refers to smoking methamphetamine.

Slang for Heroin - Black Tar Heroin

Black tar heroin is actually not heroin, as such. Black tar heroin is synthesized from morphine, like heroin, but black tar heroin is created in a simpler way resulting in an unrefined and crude opium product. Black tar heroin puts users at greater risk for life-threatening infections and vein collapse than heroin.2 Black tar heroin mostly comes from Mexico. (See How is Heroin Made)

Black tar heroin is also known as:

  • Black
  • Brown
  • The letter "b" or "h"
  • Tar
  • Goma
  • Mexican mud

Slang for Heroin - Associated Names for Heroin

Just as there are slang names for heroin, there are slang names for heroin paraphernalia and assorted practices. Some slang for heroin-associated items includes:3

  • A-bomb, atom bomb - marijuana and heroin smoked in a cigarette
  • Pineapple - heroin combined with an amphetamine
  • Rig - syringe used to inject heroin
  • Speedball, Belushi - a heroin-cocaine mixture
  • Channel swimmer - the one who injects heroin
  • Paperboy - heroin dealer
  • "Z" - one ounce of heroin

article references

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2021, December 15). Street Names for Heroin and Other Heroin Slang Terms, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: December 30, 2021

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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