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What is Speedballing?

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A speedball is a drug mixture. When a person blends heroin and cocaine, usually into a syringe to be injected, they are doing a ‘speedball.’ The term has traditionally referred to shooting cocaine and heroin but now can refer to snorting them together as well. Both heroin and cocaine are becoming more potent as the addition of Fentanyl laced cocaine and heroin is a reality. With that, people are less anxious to inject drugs right away. Still, the infamous speedball combination is cocaine and heroin. However, a speedball can also reference any type of upper and downer drugs, which cocaine and heroin are, respectively. For example, combining Oxycontin and methamphetamine would be considered a speedball.

In 2019, the number of drug overdose deaths in the United States that involved cocaine and an opioid [heroin] was over 10,000. (NIDA)

What is Speed Balling?

Why Are People Speedballing?

Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system, whereas heroin depresses it. Mixing cocaine with heroin provides users with a rush of intense energy from the cocaine, followed by the sedating effects of heroin. Both drugs are strong, and some addicts don’t want to be too excited about cocaine, so they use the heroin in combination to essentially keep them more level-and vice versa. When a speedball is used, the person does not feel as high either way and many like the middle effects of being on both drugs together. Unfortunately, the reality is that a speedball is more deadly than doing the drugs separately.

Why Is A Speedball Dangerous?

People who do speedballs tend to inject it and use more of each drug. The result is a tendency for accidental overdose. Additionally, the effect of cocaine wears off much faster than heroin, and the person may not realize that they have just used enough heroin to overdose on because they are wired from the cocaine. Therefore, most overdose deaths from speedball are heroin killing the person, not cocaine. However, doing these drugs together totally confuses the brain because one is a stimulant, and the other is a depressant. The brain signals in both directions cause the following symptoms that can lead to death, coma, or another tragedy:

  • Confusion and Hallucinations
  • Loss of Muscular Control
  • Fainting
  • Profuse Sweating
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Heart Attack
  • Aneurysm
  • Respiratory Failure

Speedballing: Research and Treatment

Addiction to speedballs can be challenging to treat. The effect of heroin on the brain is different from the effect of cocaine, and there is much-needed research to confirm exactly how the two affect the brain, heart, and lungs. In treating opioid addiction, medication-assisted treatments, such as buprenorphine and methadone, are moderately effective in reducing speedball addiction. Additionally, cocaine is often treated with the medication disulfiram. Speedball is most commonly used by long-term heroin and cocaine users, a group that also has a propensity to overdose because of daily use.

Information on Speedballs From The National Institute On Drug Abuse

NIDA funded research many years ago that found that the combination of indatraline and buprenorphine reduced the self-administration of speedball in monkeys. They presume then that combining medications that target the effects of heroin or cocaine could reduce speedball abuse in humans.

Speedball abuse presents special challenges for drug abuse treatment. Cocaine and heroin exert different effects on the brain, and little is known scientifically about how the two drugs interact. Current medications for heroin abuse, such as methadone, are only moderately effective in reducing speedball abuse. At present, there are no effective medications for cocaine abuse. Combinations of medications that target the effects of either cocaine or heroin have shown promise in reducing speedball self-administration in preclinical studies. (NIDA)

Treatment For Speedball Addiction is Here

Evoke Wellness at Miramar urges anyone who is doing speedballs or is addicted to them to seek treatment as soon as possible. If you or someone you love is addicted to cocaine, heroin, or other combinations known as speedball, your loved one is at risk from the effects of uppers and downers on the brain and body. We can help them overcome the addiction and cravings for speedballs today. We offer speedball-specific drug treatment and counseling. As a result, one can achieve a drug-free lifestyle – and a healthy future! To get more information about our drug treatment programs, start by calling us and chatting or emailing us for more help.