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What Your Choice of Drug Slang Says About You

From "hippy crack" to "high grade", the terms you use to describe drugs give away a lot.

by Angus Harrison
25 July 2016, 2:05pm

By this stage you should have learnt that the only words you actually need to talk about drugs are basically: "weed", "coke", "pills" and "ket". Maybe you'll need to use "hash" at some point, if you're getting specific, or possibly "2CB" if you're a real wreckhead. But realistically you could talk about drugs using a maximum of eight words.

Yet drugs are constantly gaining new street synonyms. People remain permanently unhappy to call them by their dictionary name.

There are so many street names for drugs that the ones people use can tell you a shit ton about them: how relaxed they are around them, how much they enjoyed it last time, who they take them with, where they grew up, and of course, how fucking cool they are.

So here's a pretty comprehensive, in no way biased or speculative, 100% accurate guide to what your drug vocabulary says about you.

You are my mother. You are specifically referring to the only drugs story you have in your canon which goes "there was a bit of pot about, I tried it, didn't like it, passed it on." This rule applies to every mention of "pot" that has ever been made by any parent. There is always "a bit of it" and it is always "about". You never talk about "buying loads of pot" or getting "some quality pot". No, it has only ever been 1978 and there has only ever been "a bit of pot about".

You're a journalist at the Sun and you're probably writing about Raheem Sterling.

You are a robust Northern Bloke. The sort of robust Northern Bloke who manages to make taking drugs seem quite wholesome, a bit like you're tucking into a Sunday roast. You can spend entire evenings cutting up forearm-thick lines of beak and somehow maintain complete composure while the party around you crumbles into a cacophony of steaming chatter. You make checked shirts appear on trend. You wear Clark's desert boots. You've got lovely greying stubble and a nice watch. I think I like you, in that way.

You talk a lot about high grade, don't you? The chronic. You leave comments under YouTube videos of songs from before you were born saying "better than the shit that gets made now". You firmly believe there is a media conspiracy against Jeremy Corbyn and you regularly share Canary articles corroborating this standpoint. You think Kanye West is a dickhead. When you smoke high grade, your evening inevitably starts with a lot of Massive Attack, which then leads to watching the same Adam Curtis documentary you've seen approximately 25 times. You have strong opinions on almost everything, particularly neoliberalism and your mum's new boyfriend Ray.

The last time you took drugs regularly was when you were 25; about eight years ago. Since then you haven't had the chance to get out as much, now you've got a mortgage and an Abel and Cole membership, and without realising, you've become exactly the sort of clean shirt you'd spent the last decade taking the piss out of.

Drugs though, they used to be fun, like, really fun. The world used to be a non-stop stream of glitter, big bottles of cider, radio-friendly indie remixes and boutique festivals. Sometimes, in bed, you stare up at the ceiling of your duck-egg blue bedroom and remember parties. You remember how tightly your skin used to cling to your face, how everything seemed more colourful, like thick paint, and the memory makes you so happy it turns into mourning.

These days your partying has been stripped back to a biannual trip to Latitude or Secret Garden Party, long weekends you'll spend applying and removing body glitter, eating gourmet scotch eggs and trying to charge your phone. Still you go, you get tickets, pack the car, buy a bit of "mandy" off your mate's ex boyfriend who still sells, and hope the weekend will be as fun as you are trying to make it sound. You become unreasonably unsettled on your way into the festival, at the thought of security finding the gram you've hidden in your Cath Kidston thermos – the prospect of explaining to everyone in the office that you were arrested on the weekend is nearly enough to make you turn around – but they don't stop you, they don't search you, and you get in without a problem. You and your partner who you definitely should be engaged to by now really c'mon mate, talk about crushing the gram but you're tired after the drive and decide to call it a night after a Jon Hopkins set. The next night in rains. On the third night you decide it's too late now to take it because you've all got to drive home tomorrow, but you head out with it in your pocket anyway. "I'm going to sell it," you tell everyone. "May as well get my £40 back!"

Later than night, while watching Madness, you slip the gram into a green wheelie bin. You sigh. It's over.

You are Ronnie Corbett doing cocaine at the Baftas in that episode of Extras.

The year 1989 gives you a hard on. You played some minor supporting role in the acid house revolution in Manchester, and it's a tenuous claim to fame you've managed to turn into two books and semi-regular talking head appearances during documentaries about the 1990s. You spend a lot of time talking about how mobile phones have ruined nightclubs, and how music now is piss poor because there's no quality control. You don't take drugs anymore, God forbid, no, but you talk about garys, a lot, and how strong they were. How you'd barely have pushed one passed your lips before you'd be rushing off your tits back then. You've got loads of vinyl, you drink a lot of thick ales, you claim you're mates with Guy Garvey even though you're not, and you probably spend so much time telling young people they are "getting youth culture wrong" in order to wallpaper over the damp drabness that has moved into your life since the long nights of '89 ended.

Your relationship with cocaine is comfortable. Very comfortable. To the point where you now refer to it with the same lackadaisical flippancy you would buying a grab-bag of Doritos. The class As come in without fail after every pub session and in a certain light, it could be said you have a debilitating drug addiction, but that's all a bit doom and gloom, so you call it packet and suddenly it sounds like a bar snack and everything is a little less scary.

You are a 14-year-old American or you are French Montana.

For some reason you think ketamine in large social situations is really fun. You love getting a little bit ketty, don't you? And by "a little bit ketty" you mean slathering drool down your T-shirt, slumped on a sofa trying to get Pokémon Go to work on your lighter. You've been a bit naughty, gotten a little bit ketty, and now the spaces between spaces are closing in. Just a little bump of special K, touch of donkey dust, and you've got all the composure of a scarecrow with a bowling ball for a head. You love Gentleman's Dub Club. You own a lava lamp. You go to Shambala every year.

You are the sort of person ironically alludes to "bunnin' a zoot" despite the fact the last time you smoked weed was four years previously—an incident which ended in a full-scale whitey in a portaloo. Since that incident weed scares you. In fact, all drugs scare you. You'd much rather spend your time watching old episodes of Torchwood before maybe heading to a Yo Sushi branch inside a shopping mall. If the weather's good you might head into for some "pubbage". Your words not mine. After a few hours and four pints of cider with your mates somebody suggests going to a house party. You're reluctant—a familiar acidic doom swills around in your belly. You try and generate some excuses to slip out but your boyfriend/girlfriend is keen. He/She hasn't been to a party in a while and the thought has them visibly excited. You surrender and agree to go. An hour later and you're in a new build semi-detached house somewhere on the outskirts of a satellite town. It's the sort of "house party" where the host has put a big bowl of Wotsits out. There are about 14 people there in total. It isn't totally shit, you have a good conversation with somebody called Paul about who you think is the funniest panelist on Would I Lie To You, and somebody compliments you on your Converses, so that's cool. However, your worst fears are confirmed when a bloke with a polyester shirt on removes what looks like a sonic screwdriver from his pocket and tells the group it's a portable vaporiser. It's passed around the circle. Everyone pressing it to their lips and sucking in. Your girlfriend/boyfriend even has a go. They cough and everybody has a well-meaning laugh. It's closing in on you. You're running out of time. Two people away. One person away. Then, "ah, bunnin' a zoot, nah it's cool I'm chill nice one."

You found the Bob Marley Snapchat filter funny, incidentally.

Yer in Glesga, and oot yer nut on a coupla wee swedgers and yer a diamond honestly yer ma best friend. Ur yoo normally headin tae Subby later the nite. Aye, th waither micht be shite up 'ere bit thir's something that runs deeper. A spirit atween us that connects us, something ye cannae find anywhere else in th world. Thare is nowhere in th universe you'd ower be than ere and nobody you'd ower be wi. After that ye come home fae the club to ur gaff. Yer pure nutted, the tunes are on noo. This is it. Th' weekend is ne'er aff tae end as lang as ye'v git th session, a bottle o bucky, a wee swedger or twa 'n' yer best mates in a' o' Scootlund, nae, th world.

You're a Tory. That much is true. But you do that slightly confusing thing posh young people do where they go all "self-aware posh". You wear little boat shoes and blue Oxford shirts and say stuff like "rather" and "totes" and it's impossible to tell if you are taking the piss or if you actually talk like that. It's probably because you've watched too much Made In Chelsea and it's left you in an existential flux, both laughing at but knowing yourself to be the object of fun. You say "banter", completely at a loss as to whether it's you the posh Tory or the figurative posh Tory character that lives inside you like a parasite. In all honesty your actual personality is long lost by this point. You are now just an amalgamation of privileged cliches, Eton Messy nights and instagrams of Prosecco on balconies. It's for this reason that after a few cocktails, and a ten deck of Marlboro lights, you think it is acceptable to suggest getting in some "charlie".

You like your pills industrial strength. Your idea of a big night out is a never-ending session in the belly of a warehouse somewhere in the Eastern bloc. The pills you buy, normally somewhere on the dark-web, are thick and dark in colour. You're the type to recommend magnesium tablets to everyone throughout the night. "Stop you biting yer tongue," you'll tell them. You cut a friendly but lonely presence on the dancefloor. You measure how good a night is based on how much body weight you lose in sweat and how much you look like Steve Buscemi by the end of the night.

You write for VICE.

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