what is a speedball revida-recovery

what is a speedball revida-recovery

Your son has been acting differently, to the point he’s skipping classes and thinking of dropping out of college. You can’t help but wonder – what is going on? A quick search of his phone, when he’s not looking, reveals texts about taking speedballs. What is a speedball? Searching for answers, you see it is some kind of drug. Where can you turn to get help with this?

Substance use disorders are nothing new, and many loved ones don’t know how to help. In 2021, almost 1,000 Tennessee residents reported having a substance use disorder. However, almost 75% were not currently receiving treatment. At ReVIDA® Recovery, we understand the need for treatment as it can be life-saving, which is why we have locations across Tennessee and Virginia to make sure help is always available.

Our blog serves as a free resource, providing education to families and loved ones of those using substances. So, let’s talk about speedballs, what they are made of, and how they can affect the ones you love.

Speedballs – What Are They Made Of?

Speedballs get their name from the result of mixing heroin and cocaine at the same time. Commonly, you will hear people say they are “speedballing.” Dealers don’t sell a physical speedball product; instead, they typically sell both substances separately for the person to mix themselves. Both cocaine and heroin have been around for years, and taking both at the same time is not a new concept. The goal of speedballing is to maximize the effects of each substance.

A study conducted by the National Institute of Justice and the Office of National Drug Control Policy interviewed just over 2,000 arrestees about the use of crack, cocaine, and heroin use and purchase patterns. Across 6 major cities, 242 participants reported using heroin and cocaine together while 172 reported using heroin and crack together. What does this mean? It means 20% of participants were engaging in speedballing at the time of arrest. This shows the prevalence of speedballing and why we need to educate about the subject.

What Effects Do Speedballs Cause?

Both cocaine and heroin have their own side effects, and mixing them together can result in even more. This is because cocaine is a stimulant while heroin is a depressant. Cocaine speeds up the central nervous system while heroin slows it down. Side effects of each substance include:

Cocaine Side Effects Heroin Side Effects
Increased body temperature Drowsiness
Heightened senses of touch and seeing light Dizziness
Anxiety and agitation Slow or shallow breathing
Paranoia Brain fog
Increased body temperature Slowed heart rate
Changes in heart rhythm Nodding in and out of consciousness

Because the side effects of cocaine and heroin are opposites, it’s easy to think they will cancel each other out and not cause any problems. However, taking both together actually increases the effects, putting strain on vital body systems.

speedballs what are they made of

Factors That Influence How Speedballing Impacts the User

While most who are speedballing will feel similar effects, there are factors that can influence the side effects you will experience and for how long. Those who had previously been taking heroin by itself will feel the effects of the cocaine more. This is because the body is already used to having heroin in the system, and if speedballing only occurs a few times, the body will react to the cocaine more strongly. The same would be true if the person was only using cocaine, and then speedballing occasionally. In that case, the effects of heroin would be more prominent.

Other factors include your metabolism and if you use other substances. Your metabolism will determine how long the substances will stay in your system. Most substances have a half-life, meaning the time it takes for half the substance to leave your system. Cocaine has an average half-life of one hour while heroin has an average half-life of 20 minutes. Your metabolism plays a role in this, and you may have a shorter or longer half-life of each substance based on how quickly your body processes them. Adding in other substances such as alcohol can also extend the half-life as your metabolism works to break down another substance.

Dangers & Risks of Using Speedballs

There are many different dangers and risks to speedballing, as both heroin and cocaine can cause long-term damage to the body. There is also the risk of overdose. Let’s look into this further.

Long-Term Effects of Speedball Use

The long-term effects of speedball use can cause many problems. In particular, the method of use can result in long-term damage. Cocaine can be snorted, injected, or swallowed while heroin can be injected, snorted, smoked, or ingested. Snorting either substance can result in damage to the nasal cavity and eventually lead to nasal collapse. This would require medical help and possibly surgery to fix. While cocaine can’t be smoked as a powder, its counterpart crack can be used in speedballing as well. Smoking crack or heroin will lead to long-term lung problems including infections, pneumonia, and COPD.

Injecting any substance comes with risks, and speedballing is no different. If the needle or syringe is not sterile, it can cause infections and transfer bloodborne illnesses such as HIV. Scarring and vein collapse are common with long-term intravenous substance use. While one study found it uncommon, there is always the possibility that a needle can break underneath the skin, leading to a foreign-body embolization. The same study found that this occurred in a 49-year-old man who had been speedballing. The needle fragment lodged in his heart, which would have been the cause of death had he not first experienced an overdose.

Lastly, cocaine and heroin affect many organ systems. Cocaine essentially speeds up the body, causing the heart to beat erratically and leading to damage. Heroin slows the body down, which can also put a strain on the heart to pump blood where it needs to go. These effects can amplify one another, increasing overall damage. The brain can experience cell death from speedballing, leading to memory problems and movement disorders.

Speedball-Related Overdoses

Heroin and cocaine alone can each cause overdoses, but speedballing increases the risk tenfold. This is because the effects of each substance are being counteracted by the other, letting you take far more together than you normally would. You might feel fine and continue your speedball use when in reality your body is approaching the point of overdose. 

Cocaine is not a way to stop a heroin overdose and vice versa, and medical attention will be needed immediately. Medications like Narcan® (naloxone) can help reverse a heroin overdose, but there are no medications to reverse a cocaine overdose. Medical professionals will know what to do in the situation, but be sure to be honest about all substances taken. This will help them treat you correctly and effectively.

Signs of a speedball overdose include:

  • Losing consciousness
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Blue tint to the skin
  • Fast heart rate
  • Body temperature increase or decrease

factors that influence how speedballing impacts the user

Getting Help for Opioid Addiction in Tennessee

Using more than one substance at a time can be dangerous, and even potentially fatal. Your loved one doesn’t have to stay in the cycle of substance use – there is help available today. Cocaine and heroin addiction treatment will allow your loved one to understand why their addiction began and how to work on rebuilding their life. They are more than just someone who takes speedballs – they are a person with ideas and desires for the future. Getting them the help they need will lead them to a fulfilled life in recovery – achieving their dreams.

If you or someone you love is looking for opioid use disorder treatment, look no further than ReVIDA® Recovery. Our program not only offers medication-assisted treatment, but also outpatient therapy to understand the reasons behind where substance use began and how to thrive in recovery. Same-day appointments are available, so there is no need to wait to come in. Call us today at 423-631-0432 to learn more about our program offerings.

Reclaim your life.

FAQs About Speedballs

What are the most common drugs used in speedballs?

The most common drugs used in speedballs are cocaine and heroin. Essentially, mixing any stimulant with a depressant could be called a speedball, but most often it will be cocaine and heroin.