What is Speedballing?Frank Montalvo
I never thought I’d be in a position to try cocaine. I was always the straight edge kid, straight A student, church goer, and someone who had even preached against drinking from time to time. That wasn’t enough to put me in the wrong place at the wrong time. My strong family and support system wasn’t enough either to prevent me from trying speedballing for the first time.
My support system wasn’t strong enough to prevent me from trying it a second, or a third time. Pretty soon I had gone from straight A student to a full-time addict.
Speedballing is the process of mixing a stimulant and an opioid. Speedballing was what landed me into the recovery program at Icarus Behavioral Health. I’m not sure where I’d be today if I hadn’t found this program, or if I hadn’t entered into recovery.
For me, speedballing became my number one rush, the best way to get high. I tricked myself into believing it wasn’t that bad, that it helped me to mitigate side effects (for cocaine I often experienced anxiety) without compromising my high. I didn’t learn until I entered Icarus just how much I was gambling with my life.
Why do People Speedball
I could ask why people do drugs in general, I certainly never thought I would. I never thought I’d meet the people who would introduce me to a concept like speedballing. I think there is a lot of truth to gateway drugs. I started drinking but then it quickly escalated into other forms of drugs., much quicker than I had anticipated, really because one of my friends was into all of that.
Drugs are easy to do as well when they are accessible and you know the right people, that’s why it’s so dangerous to try drugs, because then you know the people that do them, and it becomes a slippery slope from there.
If you’re looking for more of a technical answer as to why people would speedball, it’s because you’re mixing two things that generally give you different highs to find that ultimate high. As I mentioned earlier, for me that ultimate high was cocaine but I didn’t always like the anxiety that came along with it.
My friend pointed out to me that I could have a euphoric feeling without the anxiety. It would help me chill out but keep me going. That is why I tried speedballing and why I fell in love with it. I didn’t know a lot of people that did this, but it was something I enjoyed doing thoroughly and I overdosed twice because of it. It was pure luck I survived and I’m lucky to be alive.
What Kinds of Speedballs Are There
The most common kind of speedball is with heroin and cocaine. But it can be any type of opioid with any stimulant. For example, it could be meth and heroin or meth and fentanyl. While in recovery I started to understand how dangerous these were and that more and more people are starting to use them.
How Common is Speedball Use
I noticed a trend in my own addiction while in recovery at Icarus Behavioral Health. It seemed more and more people were using speedballs or at least aware of what it was. Unfortunately, this may be due to the recent increase in fentanyl in drugs everywhere. Because of the illicit manufacturing of fentanyl, there has been a huge increase in its use in the past few years.
People who struggle getting heroin often will get fentanyl instead, in some cases I’ve met people who don’t know the difference. Drugs like fentanyl can be used to speedball.
Unfortunately, this can be a recipe for disaster because according to the CDC fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. If that’s hard to wrap your brain around you aren’t alone because both morphine and heroin are strong drugs in their own right, especially when used with a stimulant.
Who is at Risk for Speedball Use
There is no easy answer to this question, but anybody could be at risk. I never thought I would do drugs, I certainly never thought I would mix drugs, but life led me down a road to where things that I once thought would never be possible were possible.
I think you are especially at risk if you already use either an opioid or stimulant. A person who uses fentanyl may also be at risk for speedballing. The reason being is that it is so strong so some people mix it with stimulants so they can stay up and conscious.
The Dangers of Speedball Chasing
A typical chase that a person might think of would be a drink of juice or something similar after taking a shot of alcohol. A speedball chase might be snorting a line of cocaine and then snorting a line of heroin. It can be done intravenously as well. It’s as dangerous as it sounds no matter which way you do it. I’m lucky to be alive.
Can you Overdose from Speedballing?
Not only can you overdose from speedballing, but there’s also a high probability depending on what you’re taking that you will overdose. According to the CDC, 150 people die per day from using fentanyl and that’s just one of the drugs required to speedball.
If you add in another substance, then your odds of an overdose go up. The combination of both drugs can disguise the symptoms of one substance over another. That can lead to respiratory failure or a stroke.
Reduce the Danger of a Speedball Overdose
The best way to reduce the danger is to not do it at all. It’s less dangerous to snort than it is to speedball intravenously. I can say from experience that if I could go back and do it all over, I wouldn’t try speedballing. It was bad enough to be addicted to one substance, but speedballing led me to be addicted to two.
That meant having to find the two drugs, and find a way to finance them, and my tolerance built up so much that I had to buy more and more to get high. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, the best advice I can give is to try and support them to get into a great recovery program like the one I attended at Icarus Behavioral Health.
Seeking Treatment for Polysubstance Abuse
My road to recovery was rough. I was addicted to and using two different substances, typically known as polysubstance abuse. I was in rough shape when I entered recovery. But thankfully all of the resources at Icarus Behavioral Health helped me through what was a rough withdrawal and transition into sobriety. There were options for medically assisted treatment and a ton of other resources available to help me through the darkest days of my recovery.
Finding the right support for you is essential to getting the most effective treatment so if there is a treatment center that focuses on polysubstance abuse I recommend taking that into account when you or your loved ones are looking for help.
Recovery From the Most Severe Addictions is Possible
If you or a loved one is speedballing, or suffering from addiction, I think it’s important to understand that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You can get help, it just takes patience and openness. I didn’t think I’d be alive to write this, yet here I am.
The staff at Icarus Behavioral Health gave me hope back. They also reminded me what it was like to live with sobriety. I can happily say my new drugs are exercise and sleep. I also believe in writing. It doesn’t mean there aren’t hard days when I think of using again, it just means that I have the support in place to deal with those hard days one day at a time.