Common Slang Terms For Heroin Addicts

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on December 29, 2021

Many people use several different names for heroin addicts, such as ‘junkie’, ‘jolly popper’, or ‘schmecker’.

Heroin Addict Slang Terms

There are many different words that people use to describe heroin addicts*. Though these terms can be stigmatic, it’s important to be aware of the terminology.

*Important note: We try to avoid stigmatic language such as ‘addict’, ‘heroin user’, or other slang terms as much as possible. However, we will use this language in this article to inform and equip those struggling with drug use and their loved ones.

Find out more about recognizing a heroin addict

Why It’s Important To Know The Slang For Heroin Addicts

Many heroin addicts use slang terms as a way to hide their drug abuse around people they don’t want to know about their heroin use.

If you suspect that a loved one is abusing heroin, it may be helpful to learn the language of heroin users to be more informed on heroin addiction.

By learning the terms used to describe heroin addicts, you may be able to spot an addiction to heroin sooner.

Slang For Heroin Addicts: Definitions

There are several names to describe heroin addicts.

Some of these refer to occasional users, the method of use, the age of the user, and other descriptors.

  • channel swimmer: someone who injects heroin
  • chipper: an occasional heroin user
  • cotton shooter: someone who injects the residue from cotton that was used to filter heroin in order to get every last bit of heroin
  • dinosaurs: heroin users who are in their 40s or 50s
  • hype: someone who injects heroin with a hypodermic needle
  • jolly popper: an occasional heroin user
  • junker: a person whose life revolves around using heroin. It’s usually used to describe intravenous heroin use
  • junkie: similar to ‘junker’, a person who’s addicted to heroin
  • paperboy: someone who sells heroin
  • poison people: someone who abuses heroin
  • schmecker: comes from the slang term “schmeck,” a slang term for heroin

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Slang Terms For Heroin

Heroin is known by different names depending on the type of heroin being used.

A few of the slang terms for heroin include:

  • blow
  • china white
  • dope
  • dragon
  • gravy
  • snow
  • tar

Learn more about the street names for heroin.

Find Treatment For Heroin Addiction

Heroin use can quickly turn from recreational to addiction. Learning about heroin addiction and the street names used to describe heroin addicts is the first step to helping your loved one.

If you’d like to learn about treatment options for your loved one, reach out to our helpline today. Explore options in inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, medical detox, and other methods.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on December 29, 2021


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Plymouth, Massachusetts

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