What Is a Speedball?

What Is a Speedball?

A speedball is a mixture of cocaine and heroin

The term “speedball” refers to an injection of cocaine and heroin combined. Early speedballs involved morphine rather than heroin, and, while speedballs may now have any combination of a powerful stimulant and depressant, such as benzodiazepines and amphetamines, this drug term still commonly refers to cocaine and heroin. Any drug combinations are dangerous, and mixing drugs with opposing effects can be fatal. According to the National Institutes of Health, speedball use “may increase the adverse consequences of drug abuse, such as greater severity of psychiatric disorders, higher incidence of failure in drug abuse treatment, and increased risk of contracting HIV infection” (“Combining Medications May Be Effective Treatment for ‘Speedball’ Abuse,” October 2002). Users are certainly at greater risk for infection at injection sites, and if addiction is not already present, then it will develop.

Speedballs risk users’ health in many ways. Any intravenous (IV) drug use increases the risk of contracting HIV. IV drug use also destroys veins. Addiction shares that IV speedball use is associated with “shifts towards groin injection…and not merely as a last resort in the face of increased vein deterioration associated with speedball. Accounts of vein damage linked to speedball emphasize ‘missed hits’” (“Crack-Heroin Speedball Injection and Its Implications for Vein Care,” November 2007). In other words, the femoral artery, which located in the groin, is vital, so injecting drugs into it can create serious consequences. However, speedball users prioritize getting high over getting clean or even safeguarding their bodies, so some of them may inject so much that they destroy all other veins for injection. Eventually, they may see no other choice than to inject drugs into important veins, like the femoral artery.

Using multiple drugs complicates addiction recovery. Cocaine largely impacts neurotransmitters like dopamine. It affects transportation and recognition sites, which means that dopamine accumulates in the brain. All the extra dopamine overstimulates receptors, which creates the high. Heroin works by mimicking endorphins and stimulating receptor sites meant to accept the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.

Treating addiction to these two substances requires multiple treatment approaches. Detox needs to be medically supervised, as withdrawal symptoms will be more severe when dependence involves two drugs. Treatment must occur with professionals that understand the physical and mental health complications associated with polydrug use.

Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to help you find effective resources for polydrug addiction recovery. They are caring, understanding and helpful professionals that will match your unique needs with the right recovery options. All calls and phone services are confidential, so do not hesitate to call them right now.