Drug use among teenagers has been a primary concern of parents for several decades now. In the last fifteen years or so however, this concern has grown tenfold due to the ease with which drugs can be advertised and procured via social media platforms and messaging apps. Alongside this easier access, online subcultures have developed around drug use — as has a whole new language of drug slang emojis.
In this secretive language, seemingly innocent emoji symbols can have not so innocent meanings, whether that’s a type of drug or an indicator of potency. Given that parents, at the best of times, struggle when it comes to communication with their teenage children, these new and ever-evolving codes are alarming parents, educators, and law enforcement.
Decoding Drug Slang Emojis
Efforts are being made to provide information to parents on these developments — as well as to decipher the emoji codes. In February 2021, an American therapist, Dr. Laura Berman, lost her 16-year-old son to a drug overdose after he purchased fentanyl-laced Percocet from a drug dealer on Snapchat. Since then, Berman has been working hard to decode and publicize these drug slang emojis on platforms like Instagram.
The DEA also started “One Pill Can Kill”, an information campaign on drug use. They warn that counterfeit pills can look just like prescription pills (particularly in the case of Adderall and Percocet). In 2021 alone, the DEA seized over 20 million fake pills, of which almost half were laced with a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl — a synthetic opioid up to 100 times more potent than morphine.
The DEA has also been working hard to help parents and educators understand this new emoji language, as seen in the infographic below.
A Helping Hand from Trend Micro
Here at Trend Micro, we understand (as parents ourselves) how alarming these challenges can be for parents — and we’re doing our best to help too. We’ve been very excited about Trend Micro Family, our free digital wellness solution that has linked apps for both parents and kids.
With this all-in-one parenting tool, you’ll be able to find out what interests or worries your children, with updates from Trend Micro on what they’re searching for & browsing, what they’re viewing, and even locations they have visited. By learning more about your child’s online habits, parents will have further avenues for communication in respect to online rights and wrongs — and what it means to be a good digital citizen.
Studies have found that between 34% and 43% of children are engaged in online conservations with strangers. Trend Micro Family’s Social Media Checker will also add another layer of protection by preventing strangers from getting in contact with your child. Currently supporting Instagram and Snapchat, Facebook is also in the works.
We would also encourage parents to check out our Internet Safety for Kids and Families program, which was founded in 2008 and has now reached over 3 million students, parents, and teachers in 20 countries. Its Cyber Academy is a fun interactive series for children and their parents to learn lessons on internet safety and digital wellness.
Drug Slang Emoji Glossary
For more drug slang emojis not covered in the above infographic, feel free to save the below list as well.
🌿 / 🍁 / 🍃 / 🥦 — Marijuana
💉 / 🐉 / 🐎 / 🎯 — Heroin
⛷️ / 🥥 / 🤧 — Cocaine
🤤 / 🤯 — MDMA
💨 / 🚬 — Smoking a joint
⚗️ — Used to indicate a bong
🥧 — A large amount of drugs
🔮 — Cough syrup
🏔 — Crystal meth
💊 — Prescription pills, heroin, or drugs generally
⛽ — “Gassed”, intoxicated
🔥 — To have fun, meaning intoxicated, to “blaze up” or “be lit”
Be safe out there, folks! We hope this article has been a good read — you can also have a look at our previous articles about online teen slang and gaming slang. As always, if it’s been of use and/or interest to you, please do SHARE it with family and friends to help keep the online community secure and protected.