By Addiction Experts at Ark Behavioral Health
Many teenagers buy and sell illegal drugs through social media apps. During these drug deals, they often use emojis to represent drug names and other details. Here’s what parents, caregivers, and educators should know about this emoji drug code.
What Is The Emoji Drug Code?
As part of its #OnePillCanKill initiative, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently released an emoji drug code reference guide.
This guide is a representative sample of the most common emojis used in drug deals on social media and e-commerce platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.
How Teens Use Emoji Drug Codes
Some of the emojis used in code represent drug names. Others indicate the quality and quantity of the drugs being sold.
For example, teens often use the Maple Leaf emoji as the universal symbol for drugs. They also use other emojis to reference specific substances, including:
According to law enforcement officials, the most popular emojis for illegal drugs include:
- Marijuana (Wind, Fire, Palm Tree, Evergreen Tree, Shocked Face, Four Leaf Clover)
- Cocaine (Snowflake, Snowman, Cloud with Snow, Diamond, Eightball, Key, Blowfish, Face with Tongue Out)
- Heroin (Brown Heart, Dragon)
- Methamphetamine (Crystal Ball, Blue Heart, Diamond, Test Tube)
- MDMA (Red Heart, Lightning, Cross Mark, Pill, Candy)
- Magic Mushrooms (Mushroom)
Many of these emojis relate to the drugs’ street names.
For example, cocaine is often called “snow,” which explains the Snowflake, Snowman, and Cloud with Snow emojis. Similarly, methamphetamine is often called “crystal,” which explains the Crystal Ball emoji.
Also, the Dragon emoji comes from the phrase “chasing the dragon,” which means “smoking heroin.”
Other emojis hint at the drugs’ effects. For instance, MDMA can cause emotional warmth and increased empathy, which is why it’s represented with a Red Heart. Also, cocaine can make you feel excited, energetic, and reckless. These effects are represented by the Face with Tongue Out emoji.
Fake Prescription Drugs
Fake prescription drugs are pills that resemble popular medications such as oxycodone and Xanax. They’re often laced with much stronger drugs, including methamphetamine and fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic (human-made) opioid that’s up to 50 times more powerful than heroin.
Each day, over 150 people die from drug overdoses involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
The most popular emojis for fake prescription pills include:
- Adderall (Pill, A-Train)
- Oxycodone Or Percocet (Pill, Blue Circle, Banana, P Button)
- Xanax (Pill, Chocolate Bar, Bus)
As with illegal drugs, emojis for fake prescription drugs often come from their street names. For example, Xanax pills are typically called “bars” or “school buses,” and oxycodone pills are often called “blues.”
Many teens reference cough syrup using the Grapes, Purple Heart, and Baby Bottle emojis.