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What is a Speedball? Risks and Dangers

Addiction is a complex and chronic disease that millions of Americans struggle with. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 48.7 million people suffered from a substance use disorder in 2022.

When you abuse drugs, you are bound to experiment with different combinations at some point. Mixing different drugs can be incredibly dangerous. One of the most common drug mixtures is referred to as a “speedball”.

Speedballing includes mixing a stimulant and a depressant drug. Most commonly, this involves a combination of cocaine and heroin. Combining these substances increases the risk of overdosing substantially.

Speedballing is highly addictive and may lead to adverse effects like increased heart rate, heart attack, or respiratory failure. If you or a loved one engages in this frequently, you should consider professional addiction treatment.

Understanding the Term “Speedball”

A speedball is a mixture of a stimulant and a depressant drug. Stimulants increase activity in the central nervous system while depressants lower it.

Most people choose to combine heroin and cocaine. However, a variety of drug combinations count as speedballing.

The stimulants often used to create a speedball include:

  • Cocaine
  • Meth
  • Prescription stimulant drugs

The depressants used to create a speedball include:

  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl
  • Prescription opioids like morphine

Some people might combine more than two drugs. Any type of polysubstance misuse is incredibly dangerous. Mixing a stimulant and a depressant is uniquely risky because of the opposing effects they cause.

People mix these drugs to experience a more potent high. However, as potency increases so does your risk of experiencing a speedball overdose. Combining these substances causes a push-and-pull effect that can be life-threatening.

Side Effects of Speedballing

When you speedball, you will experience the effects of both a stimulant and a depressant. This can create negative side effects like slowed breathing and respiratory depression.

The effects will depend on exactly which drugs you combine. For example, cocaine and prescription stimulants may cause varied effects. However, most stimulant and depressant drugs share similar side effects.

The side effects of combining stimulants and depressants include:

  • Slowed breathing rate
  • A rush of euphoria
  • Confusion and mental impairment
  • Paranoia or anxiety
  • Shaking and tremors
  • Fatigue or increased energy
  • High blood pressure and increased heart rate
  • Blurry vision
  • Dizziness or drowsiness

Because people often mix opioids with stimulants, this increases the risk of experiencing an opioid overdose. You can also experience a stimulant overdose during a speedball.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), stimulants accounted for 32,537 overdose deaths in 2021. On the other hand, opioids were involved in 80,411.

Are Speedballs Addictive?

Mixing stimulants and depressants can lead to addiction. For example, one of the main effects of heroin and other drugs is physical dependency. The more you engage in speedballing, the more likely you are to develop a substance use disorder.

The signs of addiction include:

  • Consuming larger amounts of a drug than you intended
  • Combining different drugs to experience a more potent high
  • Wanting to quit but being unsuccessful
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining or using drugs
  • Experiencing strong urges or cravings to use substances
  • Being unable to complete responsibilities at home, school, or work
  • Losing interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Continuing to use drugs despite facing social consequences
  • Using drugs even though they are causing physical or mental health effects
  • Needing to increase the dose of a drug to experience the desired effect
  • Dealing with withdrawal symptoms when you are not abusing a drug

If you regularly speedball and experience the above-mentioned symptoms, it’s time to seek support from a drug rehab center.

Dangers of Mixing Stimulant and Depressant Drugs

Mixing stimulant and depressant drugs can lead to many long-term health effects. For example, stimulants often cause complications like heart attacks or stroke. On the other hand, depressants are known to cause slowed breathing, overdoses, and more.

The risks of speedballing include:

  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss and malnutrition
  • Psychosis
  • Heart attacks and stroke
  • Slowed breathing and respiratory depression
  • Life-threatening overdoses
  • Coma

While the risks of speedballing are great, addiction treatment can help you recover both physically and mentally.

Signs of an Overdose

When you regularly speedball, you are putting yourself at risk of overdosing.

The symptoms of an opioid overdose include:

  • Paleness or clamminess
  • Blue tint to fingernails and lips
  • Gurgling or choking noises
  • Vomiting
  • Losing consciousness
  • Slowed breathing and heart rate

Speedballing can also lead to a stimulant overdose, which includes symptoms like:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors and shaking
  • Confusion and irritability
  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain and heart attack
  • Hallucinations and psychosis

If you or a loved one experiences any of the symptoms of overdose, contact 911 immediately.

Get Connected to a Professional Addiction Treatment Center

Addiction can be incredibly difficult to overcome, but drug rehab centers can support you. At Mandala Healing Center, we are experienced in treating speedball addiction. We can offer the tools you need to achieve long-term recovery.

Contact us today to learn more about our drug rehab program.