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What is Speedballing? The Dangers of Mixing Drugs

by | Last updated Jun 11, 2021 at 8:52AM | Published on Aug 18, 2020 | Drug Addiction, Stimulants Addiction

What is Speedballing

It’s very common for people struggling with substance abuse disorder to play with speedballing. The practice of mixing drugs is an extremely dangerous one. People experience an intense high, followed by stronger cravings. Most addicts who engage in speedballing seek an intense experience that lasts longers and satisfies their addiction.

What is Speedball?

Speedballing is the abuse of heroin and cocaine together. While the term traditionally refers to injecting both drugs at once, it can now refer to snorting them together. This is due to the rising purity levels of both heroin and cocaine. Various other drug combinations can be referred to as a speedball, though the classic combo is still cocaine and heroin.

Side Effects of Speedballing?

Cocaine is a stimulant, while heroin is a depressant. By mixing the two, users experience the intense rush of cocaine, followed by the relaxing effects of heroin.

Essentially, heroin slows down the central nervous system. While cocaine speeds it up, users don’t feel as “high” as they would otherwise when the two substances fight each other.

Even worse, because cocaine wears off much faster than heroin, people who speedball tend to inject more often than those who use either heroin or cocaine separately. This increases the risk of overdose.

Given its excessive usage across socio-economic groups, many will ask is cocaine dangerous. While all drug use is risky, those looking to inject cocaine are putting themselves in even greater danger. Because of cocaine’s short-lived high, adding heroin helps with the inevitable crash. Because of the sedating qualities of heroin, adding cocaine gives the user more energy and allows them to enjoy the high without nodding off.

Common side effects of speedballing include:

  • Slowed breathing rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Confusion or incoherence
  • Increased heart rate
  • Blurred vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Paranoia
  • Mental impairment due to lack of sleep
  • Uncontrollable movements
  • Incoherence
  • Stupor

To put it another way, the effects of speedballing consist of an overwhelming and pleasurable high. This also leads to the dangers of speedballing: Users will typically inject this combination of heroin and cocaine several times in one night.

What are the Dangers of Speed Balling?

Mixing heroin and cocaine is often associated with overdose, and speed’s long-term effects are not any better. There are a few reasons for the dangers of speedballing, which those wondering what a speedball is may want to read up on before going any further.

First, because of the mix of two drugs, the user doesn’t feel the extreme effects of either. This is one of the most prevalent dangers of speedballing and means users won’t be able to tell if they’re approaching lethal levels of either heroin or cocaine.

Second, heroin and cocaine have opposite effects on the body. When combined with those who inject cocaine, the rapid change between energetic and sedated is rough on organs.

Finally, mixing these drugs is more dangerous than using them separately because it puts users at an increased risk of contracting HIV.

Even worse, speedballing creates a high risk of death. Potentially fatal side effects of speedballing include:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Aneurysm
  • Respiratory failure
  • Cocaine overdose
  • Heroin overdose

Factors like the purity of the drugs, the setting, and the person taking the drug influence how speedballing affects someone. The same individual can use the same amount of the same drugs on different occasions and experience different effects each time.

Speedball Statistics You Should Know

While speedballing isn’t tracked as other drug addictions or practices, some numbers show the severity of the practice among drug addicts. These speedballing statistics are shocking, impressive, and proof of the dangers of mixing drugs.

  • In 2015, 63% of cocaine-related overdose deaths involved an opioid, especially heroin.
  • In 2014, cocaine was involved in the second-most number of overdose deaths, and use has increased each year.
  • The combination of cocaine and fentanyl was present in 1,542 deaths in 2015.
  • By the first half of 2015, fentanyl-related deaths in Florida that involved cocaine increased to 42% (up from 17%).

The Dangers of Mixing Drugs

Those who engage in speedballing are more likely to suffer respiratory failure. The euphoric effects of cocaine wear off faster than heroin, producing a push-pull reaction. Because of this, the full respiratory-impairing effects of heroin affect the body. Not to mention, the combination of cocaine and heroin strengthens each other, most often leading to an overdose.

It’s common for people with heroin addiction to combine drugs and alcohol to boost their experience. However, the negative side effects can oftentimes be fatal. Usually, people who mix substances also struggle with mental health disorders that require specialized treatment programs like dual diagnosis treatment.

Most commonly mixed drugs and their effects:

Getting Help

Speedballing can be a dangerous practice, and it’s a significant sign that someone’s substance abuse problems are increasingly worst. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our addiction treatment plans offer a comprehensive approach that incorporates evidence-based treatments, therapies, support groups, and more. Contact us to learn more about how you can get help for you or someone you love today.

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Digital Marketing Manager. She has a Bachelor’s in Journalism and experience in the digital media industry. Geraldine’s writing allows her to share valuable information about mental health, wellness, and drug addiction facts, hoping to shed light on the importance of therapy and ending the stigma.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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