What is the Speedball Drug?

Speedball Drug

People who battle with speedball drug addiction often spend a copious amount of time chasing the next high, in the hope that it will be better than the one before. Sometimes, in order to get it, they combine multiple drugs together.

While abusing a drug creates a myriad of physical and psychological risks to begin with, mixing different drugs together can result in dangerous situations, such as overdose, or other extreme symptoms or effects that can risk the individual’s health, safety, and life.

Speedballs are one such combination – a powerful mixture that can result in serious consequences, including death, even for those who try it just once.

Elements of a Speedball Drug

A speedball is a slang or street name for a combination of two different drugs: one is a depressant and the other a stimulant. Most frequently, the combination involves heroin and cocaine, both powerful illegal drugs that are risky when taken alone, but far more unpredictable and dangerous when taken together.

Other combinations, which may sometimes be referred to as speedballs can include:

  • Methamphetamine or amphetamine as the stimulant
  • Other opioid or opiate drugs instead of heroin
  • Benzodiazepines (i.e. Xanas) instead of heroin

When a speedball is administered, the heroin and cocaine are mixed together and injected in a single shot, so their effects are felt rapidly and intensely.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), at first glance, the combination appears to be a way of avoiding some of the worst side effects of both drugs, while at the same time experiencing a unique euphoric, relaxing, and energizing response that comes from combining the drugs. The going theory is that the energizing effects of the stimulant can counteract the adverse aspects of the depressant while heroin can mitigate some of the unwanted physical symptoms of the stimulant. The reality, however, isn’t quite that simple.

Effects of the Speedball Drug Combo

The full potential effects of heroin and cocaine on each another are not known. However, one thing we do know is that this combination is not just the equivalent of joining the effects of two individual drugs together.

Moreover, the speedball combination has a significant effect on the dopamine system, which is part of what reinforces the desire to keep using this drug combination. This is probably due to the fact that both cocaine and heroin heavily impact the dopamine system, resulting in an aggregate effect rather than a reaction affected by one drug or the other.

This powerful action on dopamine offers reinforcement for the continued use of speedballs, which can be very risky due to the combination of the two drugs, how they act on the body, and the potential physical and emotional consequences of using the drugs in conjunction.

Risks of Speedball Drug Use

Using speedballs can also increase a person’s risk for mental health conditions, such as:

  • Depression
  • Severe anxiety
  • Suicidal thinking
  • Psychosis
  • Addiction

One of the greatest risks of using speedballs, according to NIDA, is due to the fact that the effects of cocaine subside much faster than heroin. Because the primary reason for using the two drugs together is to minimize the negative effects of each, people who use speedballs mistakenly believe they can use more of each drug than would normally be possible with just one drug.

As a result, if the individual uses much more heroin than their system can handle, the body can invoke an overdose response when the cocaine effects abate, leading to severe physical and mental consequences. The person’s breathing can slow, become labored, or stop to a degree that can put the person’s life at imminent risk.

Long-Term Effects

The greatest potential long-term effect of speedball use is the increased risk of overdose or other complications from the combination of drugs involved. These effects can create a number of dangers for the person’s health. As a result of long-term use, the person can experience:

  • Overdose, resulting in a fatality
  • Damage to veins and circulation
  • Limb damage or loss due to poor circulation
  • High fever
  • Infection
  • Back pain or other pain
  • Coma or death

These and other symptoms can lead to life-changing circumstances in addition to brain damage and anhedonia, a condition in which the person is unable to experience pleasure due to severe damage to the dopamine system.

Treatment for Addiction

According to an article from NIDA, one challenge when approaching speedball abuse is that treatments used heroin addiction are only somewhat effective in helping those who use speedballs. There is no medication for the treatment of cocaine addiction, and the drugs indicated for heroin addiction can be difficult to discontinue and not particularly helpful in achieving recovery from speedball abuse.

However, there are some psychotherapies and other treatments that do not involve medication that can help people learn to handle their addictions. These therapies have been shown to be effective, especially when employed in long-term addiction treatment programs, including inpatient, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient formats.

Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers these treatment modalities and more in partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. We employ highly-trained, caring staff to facilitate services to the patient with compassion and expertise. We aim to provide our patients with all the tools they need to achieve a full recovery and go on to sustain long-lasting sobriety, happiness, and wellness.

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Signs of Heroin Addiction

Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Use

Symptoms of Heroin Use

Heroin is a semi-synthetic opiate known for it’s intense euphoric and relaxing/sedating effects. For this reason, it has an extremely high potential for abuse and addiction. Heroin is usually found as a whitish powder or dark sticky substance (black tar heroin) and can be taken orally as a pill, smoked, snorted or injected.

Heroin use is associated with the development of tolerance and dependence. The former is characterized by the brain’s propensity to reduce response to a substance after repeated exposure, which results in the user needing increasing amounts of the drug to achieve the same effect. The latter occurs when the brain adapts to heroin’s presence and can no longer function normally without it.

Withdrawal symptoms that manifest upon cessation of heroin are a hallmark of physical dependence.

Moreover, when a person discontinues heroin use or significantly cuts back, he or she will usually experience uncomfortable symptoms as a result. Thus, these effects are often among the main catalysts for relapse.

Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Use

The physical, psychological, and behavioral signs and symptoms of heroin use are similar to its side effects. There are a variety of different side effects related to heroin use, including common side effects, and withdrawal and overdose symptoms.

Side Effects

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the following are some of the common side effects that can occur following heroin use:

  • An initial rush of euphoria
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Severe itching
  • Slowed heart rate after initial rush
  • Drowsiness for hours
  • Heaviness of limbs
  • Clouded thinking

Behavioral Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Use

When heroin use evolves into a priority, a person’s entire life shifts and this drug becomes the focus. For this reason, there are likely to be noticeable changes in the person’s outward appearance and behavior. Oftentimes, despite the myriad of problems heroin use can cause, a person who is in the throes of addiction will continue to prioritize the drug over personal responsibilities and relationships.

The following are some typical behavioral signs and symptoms related to heroin use that can warn concerned loved ones that there is a need for treatment:

  • Presence of drug paraphernalia (needles, burnt spoons, etc.)
  • Negative changes in behavior
  • Changes in social group
  • Use of street slang related to heroin (“H”, Horse, Smack, Dope, etc.)
  • Friends/family missing valuables or money
  • Neglect of important obligations such as work, school, and family
  • “Track marks” on the body – injection wounds, abscesses
  • Wearing pants/long sleeves even in warm weather to cover injection sites
  • Disheveled appearance, poor hygiene
  • Legal and financial problems
  • Deception and secretiveness
  • Adamant denial of a problem despite clear evidence to the contrary
  • Chipping (intermittent heroin use)

Overdose Symptoms

A severe reaction to heroin abuse (overdose) requires immediate medical attention. Toxicity levels of heroin may be associated with the purity of the heroin or the presence of more potent additives such as fentanyl.

The following are common signs of a heroin overdose:

  • Bluish lips and/or nails (cyanosis)
  • Disorientation
  • Shallow, difficult, or stopped breathing
  • Delirium
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Drowsiness
  • Weak pulse
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Coma

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms can manifest as a sign of physical/chemical dependence in regular heroin users or after a binge or a period of heavy drug use. Heroin withdrawal symptoms typically begin 6-12 hours after the last use, peak within 1-2 days, and subside over the course of 5-7 days.

In some cases, loved ones of those using heroin may not realize that it has been occurring or the extent of use. However, if they gain knowledge that withdrawal symptoms are present, they may quickly become aware of the extent of the heroin use problem.

The following are common withdrawal symptoms related to heroin:

  • Dysphoria (bad mood, irritability)
  • Insomnia
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Drug cravings
  • Body aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Runny nose
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea and vomiting

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Our center offers comprehensive addiction treatment programs in partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and outpatient formats. These programs are designed to meet every person’s individual needs, and various mental, emotional, and medical care options are available.

As you begin to experience the freedom of a life that no longer revolves around drugs or alcohol abuse, our programs can help you sustain sobriety by offering continued support through all phases of your recovery.

If you are ready to end the cycle of addiction, call us today and let us help you find the best treatment option you need to start your journey to recovery and long-lasting wellness!

Pain Medication List

Pain Medication List from Strongest to Weakest | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Pain Medication List from Strongest to Weakest – As the opioid epidemic in the United States continues to increase in severity, with over 2 million people suffering from opioid addiction and 90 Americans dying each day from an opioid overdose, being able to identify and understand these drugs has become more important than ever.

Opioids are potent drugs that relieve pain and produce feelings of euphoria, and should only be taken for short periods of time for acute pain, such as following injury or surgery. Regardless of strength, all opioids are potentially addictive and can result in an overdose if misused. However, different opioids can induce different effects and risks depending on their frequency of use and method of administration.

The following pain medication list includes commonly misused and abused opioids and opiates from strongest to weakest in potency. Opioids and opiates are controlled substances with a high potential for abuse, dependence, and tolerance.

List of Pain Medications

1. Carfentanil

Carfentanil is a synthetic drug 10,000 more powerful than morphine, and 100 times more potent than medical-grade fentanyl itself. It is primarily used by veterinarians to sedate large animals such as elephants. It is not indicated for human use, but occasionally it is found on the black market.

Even minuscule doses, however, can be fatal, and many deaths have occurred due to carfentanil being laced into heroin or other drugs unknown to the user.

2. Fentanyl

Fentanyl is also a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl is a prescription drug sometimes prescribed for patients to manage severe pain after surgery, but due to fentanyl’s potency and potential for abuse, it is most often administered very slowly into the system via transdermal patch or lozenge.

Fentanyl on the black market, however, is not usually a product of prescription drug diversion. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, most fentanyl on the street arrives from China or Mexico where it was manufactured in illicit labs and sold to cartels and dealers or to individuals through the Internet.

Like carfentanil, a very small dose (even incidental skin exposure) of Fentanyl can kill a person, about .25 of a milligram. Fentanyl overdose deaths are on the rise, as most of the 5,500 opioid-related fatalities in 2014 involved Fentanyl.

3. Heroin

Heroin, the is the third strongest narcotic and is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from morphine, a natural compound that comes from the opium poppy. Heroin is the only completely illegal, schedule I drug included in this list, as most opioids can be obtained through a prescription, whereas heroin is not considered to have an accepted medical use.

Heroin has a very strong potential for abuse, especially when injected. It can also be consumed, however, by snorting or smoking, and is often found as a whitish powder, or a black sticky substance (black tar heroin). When injected, heroin enters the bloodstream and the brain much faster than other opioids, creating immediate intense feelings of euphoria.

4. Hydromorphone

Hydromorphone is another powerful opioid that is up to 8 times more potent than morphine. Prescribed as a severe painkiller as the brand name Dilaudid, hydromorphone also induces feelings of sedation and relaxation.

Hydromorphone is a schedule II drug with high potential for abuse, one which can easily lead to physical and psychological dependence. It is commonly misused as a substitute for heroin because it can be dissolved in water and injected into the bloodstream to experience rapid and intense effects similar to its illicit cousin.

5. Oxymorphone

At number 5, oxymorphone is still a very strong opioid. Oxymorphone was available only in generic form, at the time of this writing, and may still be prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. It most often comes in tablet form but is sometimes prescribed as an injectable. It can be misused orally or by snorting or injecting.

6. Methadone

While methadone is intended to be used under strict medical supervision to treat symptoms of opioid withdrawal, nonmedical use is illegal. Methadone is not chemically similar to heroin or morphine, but still produces comparable effects of euphoria and relaxation/sedation.

When abused, methadone consumption can result in chemical and psychological dependence. Whether taken orally as a tablet or injected as a liquid, methadone abuse can result in adverse health effects if not administered under qualified medical supervision.

7. Oxycodone

While Oxycodone isn’t as powerful as the aforementioned opioids, it is still a schedule II drug with high potential for abuse and dependence. Found in brand-name drugs such as Oxycontin and Percocet, oxycodone is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. Oxycodone is routinely prescribed in the U.S. and has been misused since the 1960s for its sedating and calming effects. It wasn’t until Purdue Pharma began mass-marketing OxyContin in the mid-1990s, however, that oxycodone became a household name and common drug of abuse.

8. Morphine

Morphine is a naturally occurring opiate, as it is derived directly from the opium poppy. It is similar in potency to oxycodone and is sometimes prescribed to treat pain when other opioids are ineffective. Morphine is was traditionally used and misused as an injectable liquid, but can now be administered as an oral solution or ingestible tablet.

9. Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone is almost as potent as morphine and is prescribed to treat moderate pain. Brand names for hydrocodone include Vicodin, Lortab, and Norco. More potent than codeine, hydrocodone is currently the most commonly prescribed opioid in the U.S.

Hydrocodone is commonly abused with alcohol, and a survey from 2013 found that over 24 million people over the age of 12 had taken hydrocodone for no legitimate medical reason. Hydrocodone is a perfect example of how a relatively weak opioid can be misused and cause serious health risks – in 2011, over 82,000 emergency departments visits were associated with hydrocodone abuse.

10. Codeine

Codeine is an opiate that is weaker in potency and is generally prescribed to treat mild to moderate pain. It is often used with other medications such as acetaminophen and to reduce coughing, such as in the brand name formulas Tylenol 3 and Tylenol 4. Codeine is much less often abused than other opioids, but it’s certainly not impossible.

11. Meperidine

Meperidine, also known by brand name Demerol, was the first synthetic opioid ever developed. Meperidine is less potent than many other opioids, but like all painkillers, still has the potential for abuse – in fact, chemical dependence and tolerance are likely to develop faster than other opioids, making misuse such as risky and dangerous.

12. Tramadol

Tramadol is the least potent drug on the pain medication list, and has a similar potency to Meperidine but is considered to have less potential for chemical dependence, tolerance, and abuse. However, Tramadol, also known by the brand name Ultram, can still be misused by those suffering from addiction or chronic pain conditions.

In 2012, more than 3 million people reported having used Tramadol for recreational or nonmedical purposes. Although Tramadol is the least potent opioid on the list, it is still often misused and can lead to addiction.

Treatment for Addiction

If you are suffering from an addiction to any of the drugs on the above pain medication list, then treatment is needed. Treatment may begin with medical detox to help relieve withdrawal symptoms.

Furthermore, Medication-assisted Treatment (MAT) makes use of carefully administered drugs like Naltrexone, Buprenorphine, and Suboxone to reduce opioid addiction and related deaths, and increase the likelihood that an individual will remain in treatment long-term.

MAT is most effective when combined with behavioral therapies, counseling, and group support. These approaches are used in combination with MAT to ensure that clients have the best chance for a successful recovery and maintaining abstinence after treatment.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, contact us today and find out how we help people free themselves from the chains of addiction!