Addiction A-Z

Speedballs

Known on the street as “speedballs” or “powerballing,” this drug is a potent combination of heroin and cocaine, which users take simultaneously. Although combining drugs is extremely hazardous, those who have previously used cocaine or heroin separately are very attracted to this combination because of the unique stimulating effect it creates for the user. The ‘rationale’ is that by mixing a stimulant (cocaine) with a depressant (heroin), speedballs will cause that intense rush addicts seek while potentially reducing the not-so-fun side effects, such as sedation or anxiety, users typically experience when taking either drug on its own.

Cocaine, derived from cocoa leaves, and heroin, processed from morphine concocted via poppy plant seedpods, are quite similar in their appearance and how they are introduced to the body, which is why they can be easily combined. Cocaine and heroin are both distributed in a white crystallized powder form, which can be snorted up the nose, burned to then be smoked or, for maximum rush, melted to inject directly into the veins. The effects of both substances diminish over time for the user, meaning he or she has to continuously up the dosage to get the same effect.

The most dangerous element of powerballing is that “switch up” moment when the cocaine increasing the heart rate wears off and the heroin takes hold, which slows the heart rate down considerably. This rapid change in heart rate is a common cause of fatality in speedball users.

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