Drug Slang is Dumb: A Public Service Announcement (and tribute to George Carlin)

I volunteer for an online harm reduction community, based primarily on IRC. Just about every day, for a few years now, I’ve spoken to a handful of new drug users, from an incredible range of cultures, from every continent on the planet – and, in the case of continents our network is especially popular in, like the US, from every obscure subculture therein. Once or twice I thought I’d heard it all, but I’ve given up that notion.

Yesterday someone happily announced they were “on Miley.” I thought, as I invariably do, “Oh, for fucks sake.” I asked, somewhat more levelly, “…Miley?” It was cocaine. Everybody on Long Island calls it that, apparently. Somehow, I think there’s at least a handful of people on Long Island who call cocaine “cocaine,” or at least “coke,” but setting that aside, it is a peculiar brand of stupidity which proclaims on an international forum that they’re “on Miley” and expects anyone (much less everyone) to know what the hell that means. Even if everyone on Long Island calls it that, do they seriously expect everyone, the world over, to be acquainted with their redundant provincial slang? Just call it coke. I’ve also heard it called Charlie, C, Nose Dust, Blanca, Peruvian Flake (or Marching Powder), and probably a dozen more I’ve forgotten. I’ve just learned that in the wider New York area, both Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera have become slang for cocaine, as well.

LSD, acid, L, Lucy.

MDMA, ecstasy, Molly, Mandy, ‘MD’ (MDA? MDPV? Finish the acronym!)

Heroin, horse, gear, smack, skunk.

It really does bother me.

But this is just my intuitive reaction. I’m not being fair to the people who use slang, and I’m in serious danger of being another pig-headed ‘intellectual’ who just doesn’t get it. Slang is really just a way to assert differentness, and as a corollary to establish of culture (or counter-culture) – it is a fundamental aspect in the formation of identity. Identity is important. Particularly for oppressed groups, and in many western countries there are few more oppressed groups than drug users.

So sure, slang is important – but there’s a reason slang for drugs bothers me. It might work fine if you live in the seventies, but youths today are sampling a range of chemicals of increasingly galactic proportion. Some of them are quite dangerous – it is important, when taking drugs, to be very clear what you’re talking about.

So fine, call LSD “acid,” but maybe users should start thinking in terms of micrograms rather than ‘tabs’. Call MDMA “ecstasy,” if you must (though ‘empathy’ might be more apt [and don’t call it “MD”, that’s really stupid]), but maybe users should start thinking in terms of milligrams instead of ‘pills’. Oh – don’t call MDMA “pills”, please, that’s ridiculous.

Just be sure, whenever you use a drug, that you know the exact chemical name and safety profile of the chemical you are ingesting, whatever you decide to call it once you have this information. If you sell or give it to somebody else, be sure that they do, as well. Don’t assume that everyone knows what the miscellaneous powder, pill, or blotter you’ve named after a female pop singer actually is. This is dumb and reckless, and you could (depending on what form Miley Cyrus chooses to take in your region) get somebody killed.

Besides, there’s plenty of room to work in the field of describing various kinds of insobriety, as well as the various characters and scenes that emerge from different kinds of drug use. Get zonked, plastered, wrecked, knackered, munted; charged, buzzed, amped, spun; stoned, baked, blazed, blitzed; cooked, gacked.

Tweak out, freak out, wake and bake.  

Bite your lips, candyflip, blow your mind, bogart that joint (that doob, dooby, dubois, that spliff, that scoob).

Do up and party down.

Go and see the bag man. Go and see the hook up, the hustler. Talk to Sampson. Go to the crack gallery, the bodega, the headshop. I don’t really care.

By all means, hang out with hop heads, geeks, acid freaks, tweakers, ravers or space cadets.

Just be safe!*

*I am not endorsing any of the acts which these vague and obscure slang refer to, I’m just demonstrating how you can use slang and establish identity without obscuring basic safety information about the drugs you’re ingesting.


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