What Is a Speedball?

What Is a Speedball?

A speedball is a drug combination made up of both cocaine and heroin that users inject straight into their blood stream for what is deemed a unique high. In some cases people will use cocaine and morphine instead of heroin, which has an almost identical effect. People using a speedball will either mix both substances into one syringe or use one syringe on each arm to inject simultaneously. Speedballs can also be consumed by inhaling the drugs through the nose but the effect is typically not as intense. A speedball is desirable to abusers for a few reasons and they include the following:

  • The heroin produces intense euphoria while the cocaine produces a significant increase in energy
  • Cocaine by itself often has side effects of anxiety and paranoia but the heroin in the speedball typically cancels out those adverse effects
  • Heroin by itself often causes users to be sedated or drowsy but the cocaine in the speedball negates those unwanted effects
  • The abuser initially experiences the best of both drugs without the common negative side effects of either

While these reasons can seem initially appealing to drug abusers searching for a unique high, the negative short and long-term effects of a speedball outweigh the positives. The cocaine from a speedball wears off long before the heroin, and as a result, the user can feel a rush of heightened heroin effects. When the cocaine was still active in the user’s system it was balancing out or reducing the full effects of the heroin, an effect that can lead people to inject more heroin than their systems can actually handle. Once the cocaine wears off, the unusually high amount of heroin comes into full effect, potentiating a fatal outcome for the user. A speedball user’s heart rate is fast while the cocaine is active and when it wears off the heroin can drop it down to a potentially fatal rate. Along with the increased risk of a fatal overdose, using a speedball puts people at an increased risk of the following:

  • Addiction to both substances
  • Psychotic episode and long-term general psychosis
  • Long-term major depressive disorder
  • Permanent anxiety disorder
  • Physical dependence
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Dangerous respiratory depression

Professional treatment at a licensed rehab facility is essential to avoiding the dangerous and potentially fatal effects of speedball abuse. Certain treatment facilities can provide a safe and medically supervised detox followed by an inpatient rehab program that allows the abuser to experience recovery in a safe environment.

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