What Is a Speedball?

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What is a speedball? A speedball usually involves combining an opioid depressant like heroin with a CNS stimulant like cocaine. This mixture significantly raises the chances of a deadly overdose. Read on to learn more about the dangers of speedball drugs

Understanding The Speedball Drug

A speedball combines heroin, an illegal opioid derived from morphine that slows down breathing, with cocaine, a stimulant that increases heart rate and energy. This combination is usually injected directly into the bloodstream, though sometimes it’s also snorted, delivering a more intense and enduring high than using either drug separately.

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While heroin can trigger respiratory failure ­– especially when mixed with other depressants like alcohol – cocaine produces almost opposite effects, such as rapid breathing. There’s a widespread but incorrect belief that mixing heroin with cocaine can neutralize or mitigate the adverse effects of each. The practice of speedballing is actually more dangerous than using either drug on its own, as it can intensify the negative impacts of both substances.

What Drugs Are in a Speedball?

Today, the term speedball has evolved to include a variety of stimulant and opioid combinations.

Stimulants often mixed with an opioid to create a speedball include:

  • Cocaine
  • Meth
  • Prescription stimulant medications for ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) like Ritalin, Adderall, Dexedrine, and Concerta

Common opioids used in speedball combinations are:

  • Heroin
  • Prescription opioids like hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, morphine, codeine, and fentanyl

Combinations of opioids used for speedballing include:

  • Heroin and meth: These drugs are often misused together, posing significant risks. Both are highly addictive and dangerous on their own, with combined use greatly increasing the danger.
  • Fentanyl and cocaine: Sometimes, fentanyl is intentionally mixed with cocaine to create a more potent speedball. Other people are unaware that they’re consuming fentanyl instead of heroin, further increasing the risk of adverse reactions.

These combinations highlight the significant risks and complexities of polysubstance use, especially involving potent substances like fentanyl, which can dramatically increase the danger of overdose and adverse reactions.

A woman does research on the effects of a speedball

Speedball Effects

Cocaine typically causes side effects like anxiety, increased sensitivity, elevated blood pressure, and an irregular or fast heartbeat. On the other hand, opioids like heroin are known to induce drowsiness and slow down breathing. When these substances are mixed in a speedball, the combined side effects can severely affect the brain.

Mixing cocaine and heroin creates a highly toxic blend that can lead to a range of unpredictable and adverse side effects. The common immediate effects of a speedball include:

  • Confusion or lack of clarity
  • Blurred vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Paranoia
  • Cognitive difficulties due to sleep deprivation
  • Uncontrolled movements
  • Stupor

Speedballing can also have serious long-term side effects on vital organs like the lungs, heart, and liver. Some people may suffer from manic episodes, intense paranoia, or depression as a result of speedballing.

Beyond this, speedballing poses a significant risk of fatal outcomes, with potentially life-threatening side effects including:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Aneurysm
  • Respiratory failure

Are Speedballs Dangerous?

Injecting a speedball can lead to a range of adverse effects from both drugs, such as:

  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Hypertension
  • Confusion
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Trouble thinking or speaking clearly
  • Stupor

The mix can prove to be deadly. Fatalities among speedball users have occurred due to:

  • Fatal respiratory depression
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Aneurysm

The significant danger with speedballs lies in the disparity of the drugs’ durations – cocaine’s effects dissipate quicker than those of heroin. Consequently, if a person consumes a larger quantity of heroin than their body can manage, they might face a speedball overdose and respiratory failure once the stimulant effects of cocaine diminish.

For those habitually injecting speedballs, the ongoing risk of overdose is a primary concern. Other long-term effects from the continued use of heroin and cocaine through injection encompass:

  • Vascular inflammation and blood vessel blockages from injected substances
  • Contracting HIV or other bloodborne illnesses through shared needles
  • Abscesses, cellulitis, and tissue necrosis at injection sites
  • Malnourishment and anorexia
  • Ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke
  • Damage to organs due to ischemia
  • GI tract ulcerations
  • Damage to the kidneys and liver
  • Inflammation of the heart muscle
  • Aortic ruptures
  • Seizures
  • Persistent cognitive damage
  • An elevated risk of Parkinson’s disease 
  • Impulsivity issues
  • Addiction
  • Heart attack
luxury bedroom at california detox representing speedball overdose treatment

Get Treatment for Heroin and Cocaine Addiction at California Detox

The abuse of speedball drugs is especially dangerous, and both heroin and cocaine can be powerfully addictive. If you have been experimenting with speedballs and need help recalibrating your life, reach out to California Detox today.

Get your recovery started properly by choosing our medical detox program. Medications and continuous clinical care will streamline the withdrawal process and prepare you for ongoing inpatient treatment at our rehab center on Laguna Beach, California.

All treatment programs at California Detox deliver personalized therapies that may include:

  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Talk therapies
  • Motivational therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Holistic treatments
  • Aftercare and support

Call 949.694.8305 for effective cocaine and heroin addiction treatment in California.



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