If the media’s representation of university is anything to go by, drugs are a prevalent part of the student lifestyle. An episode of Channel 4’s Fresh Meat rarely airs without some reference to substance abuse. While in the case of most students this is a severely skewed view, even if the character of Vod was directly based on you, it is unlikely you would be aware of all the slang related to the most commonly used drugs. Indeed, while DrugScope named cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and amyl nitrates as the four most commonly tried illegal highs, there are literally dozens of nicknames associated with each of these drugs. Although some street names have made their way in to popular culture, would you know what someone meant if they offered you some rugby balls? How about some ram? Or perhaps a little blue cheese?
While it is still the most widely-used illegal drug in Britain today, social anthropologists have found evidence to suggest that smoke from charring cannabis seeds was ritually inhaled as early as the third millennium BC. As a drug with such a long-standing history, it makes sense that this Class B substance has so many nicknames; while it is well-known as weed, pot, grass and ganja, it is also less-familiarly referred to as bud, draw and bhang.
Cocaine has a long history of being the crutch of the extravagantly rich, an idea that Leonardo DiCaprio’s depiction of Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street does nothing to negate. A highly addictive Class A substance that leads to feelings of confidence, exhilaration and alertness, cocaine is also widely known for its long ‘come-down’; while its immediate effects usually wear off within an hour, the subsequent crash period can last for days. There are multiple forms of this substance, and even more associated slang. Known commonly as crack, coke and charlie, fewer people are aware it is also referred to as toot or chang.
Ecstasy, chemically known as MDMA, was a popular drug amongst clubbers in the 80s and 90s, though it is still one of the most commonly tried illegal substances in Britain today. The original ‘designer drug’, ecstasy is taken for the associated feelings of love and alertness, but many of its more unusual nicknames relate to the intensity of colours and music experienced by the user; slang related to this drug includes names such as pink superman, mitsubishis, dolphins and brownies.
Commonly known as poppers, amyl nitrates were originally prescribed for patients with cardiac conditions, such as angina, as they expand blood vessels, allowing increased blood flow to the heart. However, once it was discovered that side-effects included a short-lived head rush and increased sexual pleasure, they began to be used recreationally. Indeed, many have reported that after inhaling amyl nitrates, not only is the state of orgasm extended, but the state of arousal is also heightened. The street names of amyl nitrates certainly suggest these kinds of benefits- known not only as ram and rush, amyls are also more crudely branded as thrust and rock hard!