What Happens When Someone Mixes Heroin and Cocaine?
Millions of adults in the U.S. are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Many drug users will abuse two different drugs at the same time, and become addicted to more than one substance in the process. One of the most dangerous drug mixes is heroin and cocaine, known as either a “speedball” or “dynamite.”
This mixture is incredibly dangerous because the effects of heroin and cocaine are antagonistic, and the complete opposite of each other. While heroin depresses the central nervous system, cocaine speeds it up. These effects can have disastrous, deadly consequences.
What are heroin and cocaine?
Heroin is an illegal street drug that derives from the opium poppy. It was invented in the late 1800s as an alternative to laudanum and morphine but was soon made illegal because of its highly addictive effects. Heroin will bind to the body’s naturally-occurring opioid receptors, and increase a person’s feelings of ease and well-being when they take the drug. It can be snorted, smoked, or injected. Each way a person takes heroin can have its own unique set of consequences. The high a person gets when they take heroin is incredibly intense, and the drug will severely depress a person’s breathing and heart rate. Digestion is also severely slowed when addicted to heroin, leading to constipation and other digestive issues.
Cocaine is a white powder substance, and it is made from the coca plant. Coca is one of the world’s oldest known stimulants, and it is also the most potent, natural stimulant in the world. A person can snort, smoke, or inject cocaine. The drug increases respiratory rate, blood pressure, and heart rate, and will give users a feeling of intense focus, concentration, energy, and euphoria.
What happens when someone mixes heroin and cocaine?
It is a myth that taking both heroin and cocaine at the same time will cancel out the effects of the other. Instead, the adverse effects of both drugs are amplified. Taking a speedball is incredibly dangerous because it forces the person’s body to process more toxic substances at once that are complete opposites of each other. A speedball creates a “push-pull” effect on the body and puts a strain on an overactive respiratory and circulatory system. The body becomes confused and disoriented. Mixing heroin and cocaine can severely limit the body’s ability to get enough oxygen to balance out the effects of cocaine.
Another significant problem with speedballs is that a cocaine high will last about twenty minutes, while the effects of heroin can last for much longer. People who mix these two drugs will often inject more of either substance to prolong the effects of a speedball.
When someone wants to get both the effects of heroin and cocaine at the same time, they will usually dissolve the powder forms of the drugs into a liquid and then inject the mixture. This will give the user an extremely quick, intense high.
What are the side effects of a speedball?
A person who mixes heroin and cocaine in a speedball will experience a host of adverse side effects from the push-pull effects of these two drugs. Side effects can also be incredibly unpredictable, which heightens the danger:
- Hypersensitivity to light, sound, and touch
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heart rate
- Blurred vision
- Incoherent speech
- Uncontrollable movements
When someone frequently abuses these two drugs, they can develop severe, long-term physical and mental health consequences. The effects of mixing heroin and cocaine include damage to the lungs, heart, and liver. People in recovery for speedball addiction can trigger mental health symptoms, such as depression, mania, or paranoia. There are several potentially deadly side effects of speedballs, which can lead to permanent disability if someone manages to survive an overdose.
- Heart attacks and strokes
- Respiratory failure
More than half of all cocaine overdose deaths involved heroin. 42% of fatalities involving fentanyl overdoses involved heroin. Fentanyl is a prescription drug that is 100 times stronger than morphine and is an opioid derivative like heroin. People will sometimes combine cocaine and fentanyl to get a massive high.
Several factors will influence precisely how heroin and cocaine affect an individual user. The same person can take a speedball at different times, and experience different effects and intensities. As is the case with illegal street drugs, it is impossible to know exactly how much of what substance is in each batch. Some illegal manufacturers of drugs will sometimes add random chemicals to a batch to increase the volume and potency of the drugs.
The exact chemical makeup of a batch, the amount a user takes, and their physical health and state can all influence the intensity of a speedball. Most people who overdose on a speedball do so after the effects of cocaine wear off, and the person’s breathing is slowed to a dangerous level when the heroin takes full effect. Heroin and opioid derivative drugs are the leading causes of overdose deaths in the U.S.
How can someone be treated for speedball addiction?
It is imperative that a person who is addicted to speedballs gets immediate help. The push-pull effects of heroin and cocaine, and the side effects and consequences of taking these drugs are amplified when they are combined. Getting help for an addiction quickly can help the person’s body heal from these disastrous effects and keep them safe from a deadly overdose. A medical detox and rehab facility can assist patients with withdrawal symptoms by administering medications that will limit the duration and severity of withdrawals. Furthermore, going to rehab gives patients access to medical doctors and mental health professionals who can address the physical and emotional consequences and roots of a person’s drug addiction.
If you or a loved one are struggling with drug addiction and abuse, there is hope. Please contact the dedicated and experienced counselors and doctors at Windward Way today to explore your options for substance abuse treatment. Representatives are standing by to answer your questions.
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