Speedball: The Deadly Drug Cocktail That’s Claimed Too Many Lives
Published in Jul 2021 / Updated in Sep 2021
Speedballs have killed many, including celebrities. Unfortunately, the problems they pose are not likely to end any time soon. Many drug users are still crazy about trying this dangerous drug cocktail, although it has made many suffer from horrifying side effects such as brain damage and heart attacks.
A speedball is a combination of heroin and cocaine, and it also goes by the name “Powerball.” Stars like Kurt Cobain, his wife Courtney Love, Jack Bruce, Layne Staley, and others were quite famous for their use of this drug cocktail, which should be a no-go zone even for the most hardened drug users.
As if that is not bad enough, people have recently invented a fentanyl speedball, which, as the name suggests, is a drug cocktail containing fentanyl and cocaine. Fentanyl is regularly being used as a substitute for heroin as it is much cheaper and more potent. The compound is also easier to transport and smuggle.
The problem is that many speedball users might not know what substituting fentanyl for heroin does to the cocktail’s dosage. Therefore, they might use the same quantity of speedball, not knowing that they are using a significantly more potent drug combination.
The same quantity of Fentanyl is more potent than a similar quantity of heroin, which means speedball risks like respiratory failure, liver damage, and other health issues are magnified when using this speedball.
Originally, speedballs had cocaine hydrochloride and morphine sulfate instead of heroin. These days, in addition to fentanyl, speedballs can also have barbiturates, methamphetamines, and pharmaceutical opioids.
Speedballing is an example of polydrug use, whereby someone uses more than one drug simultaneously. This practice is dangerous as it intensifies the effects of individual drugs.
That is why combining heroin with something as benign as alcohol can result in a health emergency or even death. So, it’s not surprising that about half of all alcohol-related visits to the emergency room involve using an additional drug.
Regular use of speedballs strips the mind of its feel-good hormones, which means these folks have to rely on these drugs to avoid depression and anxiety.
Speedballs Are Nothing New
Although speedballs might seem like a recent trend, they have been in existence for over a century, having first appeared on the scene in 1900. However, they grew in popularity in the early 80s after Hollywood celebrities started using the drug cocktail.
Many speedball users are recreational drug users who love the thrill of using such a drug combination, not knowing the incredible risks they are taking.
Others have to use speedballs because they feel that the effects of a single drug no longer give them the high they need. In other words, the speedball enhances the “rush” these people feel, even if that comes with the risk of experiencing issues like bleeding stomachs and comas.
This potent blend of drugs is either injected into the body or snorted.
Some people love the idea of taking a drug cocktail as it offers a different experience, which makes it more exciting. The problem is that this experience also includes a serious health gamble.
The idea is to have a more powerful and longer-lasting high that neither of these drugs can offer on their own. While the effects of this drug combination are instantaneous, they can last for up to 90 minutes and result in permanent damage to physical and psychological health.
Basically, speedballs offer an immediate high due to the stimulant, followed by a prolonged period of euphoria and relaxation from the sedative part of the cocktail.
Dangers Of Speedballing
Even on their own, heroin and cocaine are quite dangerous. While heroin is a depressant, which slows down breathing, cocaine is a stimulant that causes rapid breathing.
Shockingly, teens are more likely to combine drugs, and that increases their risk of addiction substantially. Millions of Americans mix and abuse drugs.
People mistakenly assume that a speedball eliminates the downsides of each of the drugs used. The reality, unfortunately, is that the combination is more dangerous than the drugs are on their own.
Some of their fatal side effects are magnified, which is why the risks of permanent damage and overdosing substantially increase when taking a speedball. Some risks of putting the body under this strain include sudden death and intracranial hemorrhage.
The stimulant and depressant result in a “push-pull” reaction that can strain the heart, lungs, and brain. The body is forced to deal with two opposing situations at once. That is why those who take this risky combination of drugs often experience confusion.
Combining heroin and cocaine can have side effects like blurred vision, paranoia, incoherence, drowsiness, confusion, and mental impairment due to lack of sleep. Users also face life-threatening risks such as stroke, respiratory failure, heart attacks, and aneurysms.
Overdosing is also a huge risk since speedballs don’t have defined quantities of either substance. Celebrities such as John Belushi, Chris Kelly, Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, and Philip Seymour lost their lives after overdosing on speedballs.
Signs that someone has overdosed from speedballs include bluish skin, severe stomach pain, seizures, coma, and respiratory depression.
Many people die from using speedballs after the effects of cocaine wear off. That’s when heroin’s effects manifest themselves without interference from cocaine’s stimulating effects, causing respiratory failure.
The Scary Truth About Speedballs
Although a speedball is described as capable of bringing about pleasure effects, the negative side effects quickly cancel out these benefits. Addiction is also a substantial risk, which increases the risk of overdosing dramatically.
Many cocaine-related overdose deaths involve an opioid like heroin. Sadly, the number of people dying as a result of using these drugs is increasing. For instance, between the years 2010 and 2017, the number of overdoses involving cocaine doubled.
Basically, taking speedballs is like playing Russian roulette with your life. It’s almost like attempting suicide because the risk of death or brain damage is staggering when speedballs are involved.
However, for most people, taking speedballs is usually a desperate final step after heroin or cocaine fails to work as expected.
For instance, Slash, the famous Gun ‘N Roses guitarist, once suffered an eight-minute cardiac arrest for doing a speedball. Although he was revived, the experience traumatized him.
In other words, anyone struggling with speedball addiction would be better off letting go of the habit before it is too late. Otherwise, those addicted to this drug cocktail can get plenty of help from various special treatment programs.