"Chasing the dragon" (a
slang phrase of Cantonese origin from Hong Kong) refers to inhaling the smoke from heated morphine, heroin or opium that has been placed on a piece of foil.
The 'chasing' occurs as the user gingerly keeps the liquid moving
in order to keep it from coalescing into a single, unmanageable
In American drug use slang, "chasing the dragon" refers to the
elusive pursuit of the ultimate high in the usage of some
particular drug. The term alludes to the feeling that the next
ingested dosage of the drug will result in a nirvana that seems and
feels imminent and conclusive, yet upon consumption never quite
yields the promised experience—leading to the desire for the next
dose that still promises the same—thus chasing the dragon but never
catching it (like "chasing after the
wind [a wild wind] "
a biblical term). Most common recreational drugs germane to the
term include inhaled cocaine, heroin, nitrous oxide, inhaled
amphetamines, and sometimes shorter-acting psychedelic compounds
such as, DMT, MDMA, and even marijuana when used in ritual form.
"Chasing the dragon" can also refer to the practice of prostitution
by some female heroin addicts to
fuel their drug habits.
"Chasing the dragon" as an ingestion method has been accomplished
with various vaporizing apparatus, including traditional opium pipes
. A makeshift method involves putting
the substance in an empty teapot, heating it over a stove, and
inhaling through the nozzle via the nose or mouth. Heating on a
small piece of aluminum foil
inhaling through a tube (usually a cut-up pen or section of
aluminum foil rolled into a tube) is another common method.
Such ingestion may pose less immediate danger to the user than
injecting heroin, due to eliminating the risk of transmission of
other diseases through needle
, as well as the stress that injection puts on veins.
The technique also avoids the delivery of heroin into the
bloodstream instantaneously, as is the case with injection, a fact
which may reduce one's chances of accidentally overdosing
. A small puff can be inhaled as a method
of gauging the strength of the heroin. Also, the lungs can act to
filter out additional pollutants that otherwise would pass directly
into the bloodstream, however, in any case, it is never harmless to
expose the lungs to any kind of smoke and inhaling heroin itself
may lead to toxic
In popular culture
- "Chasing the Dragon" is a Cantonese song of Wan Kwong.
- I Love to Chase the Dragon is a Coalition of Blood
song in which the original recording was when guitarist Jack
McNease was in use of heroin.
- Chasing the Dragon is a Led Zeppelin bootleg recording of a concert at Memorial
Texas on March 4, 1975, released by Empress Valley
- "Chasing the Dragon" is the title of various songs by rapper Ill Bill, American
glam metal band L.A. Guns, Dutch symphonic metal band Epica, Australian rock supergroup Beasts of Bourbon, Wan Kwong, Dream Evil,
Machine Gun Fellatio and 90's
Christian band Code of
- The title of Urge Overkill's album
Exit The Dragon references the act of exhaling heroin smoke (as well as the Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon). The front cover is
a picture of (presumably) exhaled smoke. The song "The Mistake", a
warning to "beware the overdose", contains the lyrics, "Never gonna
make it today/Until you finally exit the dragon". Ex-drummer
Blackie Onassis is a known heroin
addict and was fired from the band for his addiction.
- The song "Chasing Dragons" from Norwegian metal band 1349's album Beyond the Apocalypse, is about
the experience of this type of drug use.
- French singer Serge Gainsbourg
says « Je dirai en substance ceci : « touchez pas au dragon
chasing, chasse au dragon qui se prend en shoot ou en shit » in the
song Aux enfants de la
- Progressive rock bassist John
Wetton's 1994 live album is named Chasing the
- "Me and the dragon can chase all the pain away" is the line
from Placebo's song "My Sweet
- Progressive metal band Queensrÿche's song "Operation Mindcrime",
from their album Operation
Mindcrime features a reference with these lyrics: "Had a
habit doing mainline/Watch the dragon burn".
- "Chasing the Dragon" is a song from the Ill
Bill album What's Wrong With Bill? featuring
- The band August Burns Red has a
song called "Chasing the Dragon" off their B-side compilation
Messengers: The Outtakes.
- "Let's chase the dragon" is a lyric in Suede's 1993 song "So
- A Perfect Circle's song
Weak and Powerless contains the
lyric "Jam another dragon down the hole".
- The chorus of the Steely Dan song
"Time Out of Mind" contains the lyric "Tonight when I chase the
- American metal band Bloodsimple's
song "Out To Get You", from the album Red Harvest is based on drug use, and
contains the lyrics "She's been chasing dragons for endless
- The song "Beetlebum" by Blur references the related phrase "Chasing the
beetle" which refers to smoking heroin.
- Maryland Doom Metal band Internal
Void's 1991 Voyage demo opens with a song entitled "Chasin the
Dragon", featuring the lyrics "I'm wasted everyday, and I'm burning
my good mind away"
- Chase the Dragon a song written by Keith Hancock appears on the
1986 album by Clive Gregson & Christine Collister titled "Home
- In Dirt Nasty's Song "Wanna Get High (ft. Andre Legacy)," Andre
raps the line "I woke up chasin' the dragon."
- A hardcore metal band in Chicago,Illinois is named Chasin' The
- There's a line in Ozzy Osbourne's
song Junkie, that says: "You're chasing
the dragon, You're chasing the high"
In film and television
- In the "Guitar Queer-o" episode
of South Park, Stan plays a video game called "Heroin Hero,"
which the player literally chases a dragon that can never be
caught. Another game, "Rehab Hero," is also mentioned, where the
dragon chases you.
- Title of multiple films - from different genres, but usually
involving drug addiction.
- A 1996 Lifetime Network Television movie was called Chasing
the Dragon; it starred Markie Post
as a middle-class mom who becomes addicted to heroin.
- In the season 4 episode of Gilmore
Girls, "A Family Matter", Paris tells Jamie that Lane is
"Chasing the dragon", a lie so that she won't have to see him that
- In the film "From Hell" (2001) Sir William Gull (Ian Holm)
confronts Inspector Abberline (Johnny Depp) concerning his use of
opiates with the question "How long have you been chasing the
- The autobiography "Chasing the
Dragon" by missionary Jackie
Pullinger recalls how she went to Hong Kong to help drug
addicts quit "chasing the dragon" through Christian teaching and
- Frank Dikotter, Lars Laamann & Zhou Xun, Narcotic
Culture: A History of Drugs in China (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 2004), 162.
- "Chasing the Dragon" Radiology Findings: