Josh Chandler | June 29, 2022

The Dangers of Mixing Heroin and Cocaine

Speedballing: Mixing Heroin and Cocaine

Speedballing refers to the mixture of heroin and cocaine being used simultaneously to receive an elevated high or level of intoxication. Individuals engaging in speedballing will typically use drugs intravenously by injecting the mixture of heroin and cocaine into their bloodstream. Some will engage in speedballing through the use of snorting a combination of illicit drugs as well. However, injecting the substances is typically the most popular way of drug abuse for speedballing. While it is common knowledge that heroin and cocaine are highly addictive substances that can produce significant side effects. The use of both heroin and cocaine together will allure drug abusers because it provides users with a more intense high that is significantly longer-lasting compared to using cocaine or heroin alone. 

Heroin abuse is known to impact an individual’s breathing capacities causing it to slow down and eventually leading to respiratory failure as it is a central nervous system depressant. The effects can be worsened by mixing heroin with other depressants such as alcohol. Whereas cocaine is a stimulant that produces feelings of increased energy, elevates your heart rate, and increases your rate of breathing. Combining these two opposite substances can become more dangerous and potentially life-threatening than if you were to use only heroin or cocaine on its own due to the conflicting effects it produces. A depressant and stimulant together will create a push-pull reaction which can be highly dangerous. Both substances will cause different reactions within bodily functioning, such as cocaine will cause the body to require more oxygen compared to heroin abuse, which will cause the respiratory system to slow down. These conflicting bodily responses will strain your lungs, causing them to become overactive, impacting heart and brain functioning, which can cause confusion and physical turmoil. One of the most dangerous effects of speedballing is that cocaine is a shorter-lasting high, which often leads drug abusers to use speedballs at a higher frequency which can put your body into potentially life-threatening conditions. 

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Why Do People Mix Heroin and Cocaine?

When an individual is engaging in substance abuse, the ability to feel the same desired effects from heroin addiction or the effects of cocaine abuse becomes strained as your body begins to build a tolerance to your substance abuse patterns. As your body builds a tolerance to substance abuse, individuals will start to search for alternative ways to feel the same effects as attempting to mask and manage the underlying causes of your cocaine or heroin addiction. This search leads to individuals turning to other substances to increase the highs experienced. Often, individuals living with substance use disorders will be continually searching for the feeling they experienced when they first started using drugs or alcohol but cannot reach the same state they are searching for. In an attempt to find that similar feeling, many will mix substances to recreate the emotions they were experiencing. 

Side Effects of Heroin

Individuals living with heroin addiction will experience various side effects depending on the severity of their heroin addiction and body composition. The amount of heroin used by the person and how long they have been engaged in heroin addiction will also impact the severity of your drug withdrawal symptoms. The longer someone engages in substance abuse in larger quantities, the more severe the withdrawal symptoms will be. Common side effects of heroin addiction are: 

  • Pulmonary infections 
  • Chronic constipation 
  • Liver disease 
  • Collapsed veins for intravenous drug users 
  • Severe depression 
  • Skin infections 
  • Hepatitis 
  • Heart disease or heart infections 
  • Deterioration of white matter in the brain 
  • Inability to manage stress control skills 
  • Diminished sex drive 
  • Women engaging in heroin addiction can have infertility 
  • Miscarriage 
  • Clouded mental functioning 
  • Increase the risk of contracting blood-borne pathogens 
  • Chronic pneumonia 
  • Abscesses around injection sites 
  • Respiratory depression or respiratory failure 
  • Seizures 
  • Death 

One primary concern for many individuals living with heroin addiction is the growing number of individuals experiencing the devastating effects of a heroin overdose. The ever-increasing opioid crisis within the United States has caused concerns for those living with opioid addiction. The need for addiction treatment and medical support that will help reverse heroin addiction is essential to support others living with substance use disorders to keep them safe. 

Side Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine is an illicit stimulant drug that can be snorted, smoked, or injected. Individuals engaging in cocaine abuse will experience a short-lived high, typically lasting for 20 to 30 minutes. Cocaine affects the central nervous system by increasing dopamine levels responsible for providing an individual with “feel good” emotions. It gives users a feeling of euphoria and increased energy and can initially create an intensity in emotions, starting with a happy mood and progressing to a depressive state or angry outbursts. Cocaine abuse can have significant impacts on a person’s overall physical health and mental health functioning, including:

  • High blood pressure 
  • Increase in mood disorders symptoms 
  • Cardiovascular disease 
  • Respiratory illness or respiratory depression 
  • Impaired memory 
  • Gastrointestinal disease 
  • Engaging in polydrug abuse 
  • Hepatitis C infection 
  • Hepatitis B infection 
  • Sleep patterns become altered or inconsistent 
  • Decreased reaction time 
  • Short attention span 
  • Significant weight loss 
  • Stroke 
  • HIV infection 
  • Chronic nose bleeds
  • Collapsed nose structure 
  • Overdose

Side Effects of Taking Heroin and Cocaine Together

Mixing cocaine and heroin and using it within a speedball can cause severe or life-threatening adverse reactions due to the push-pull effect of compounding drug use. The side effects that individuals experience will often become blindsided by the adverse effects of substance abuse with heroin and cocaine. 

Common side effects of heroin and cocaine abuse are: 

  • Elevated blood pressure 
  • Irregular, rapid heart rate 
  • Confusion 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Hypersensitivity to light, sound, and touch 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Insomnia or difficulty having regular sleep patterns 
  • Paranoia or paranoid delusions 
  • Incoherent speech 
  • Uncontrollable movements and muscle spasms 
  • Stupor 

If you engage in heroin and cocaine abuse for an extended period, there is the potential for severe, life-threatening symptoms, including:

  • Respiratory failure and depression 
  • Aneurysm 
  • Heart attack 
  • Vascular inflammation 
  • Clogging of the blood vessels from injecting speedballs 
  • Anorexia and malnourishment 
  • Ulcers in the GI tract 
  • Abscesses or tissue necrosis around the injection site 
  • Contacting blood-borne diseases or HIV from intravenous use of drugs 
  • Hemorrhagic stroke 
  • Heart muscle inflammation
  • Kidney and liver damage 
  • Long-term cognitive impairment 
  • Aortic ruptures
  • Seizures 
  • Increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease 
  • Stroke 
  • Overdose deaths 

Side effects can occur during drug taking, including meth:

Signs and Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction to Meth

Drug Rehab for Heroin and Cocaine Addiction

At Muse Addiction Treatment Center, we believe that each patient deserves to have individualized treatment centered around their individual needs for levels of care. Your cocaine and heroin addiction did not develop overnight; it progressed over time due to your own history of emotional pain or trauma. To promote positive personal growth and healing, your addiction treatment program must be centered around your specific emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that have influenced your addictive behavior. Through various evidence-based therapy methods, patients can safely examine what is at the core of their addictive behaviors and the ability to safely and constructively address their underlying causes of drug addiction with the support of an addiction counselor. Part of the healing process of addiction treatment is to develop the tools for living in addiction recovery that will maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle. 

Different addiction therapy methods of behavioral therapy, holistic treatments, medication-assisted treatment, and dual diagnosis treatment will provide patients with a whole-person integrated approach to healing. Patients will learn ways of emotional regulation, life skills development, and tools for relapse prevention that will support patients in developing the skills to maintain long-term success in sober living. 

Our patients can attend our addiction recovery center for inpatient or outpatient rehab programs depending on their level of need. Patients needing intensive, structured days centered around healing and therapeutic processes will often choose an inpatient rehab program that will allow them to remove themselves from their home environment and any potential triggers. Individuals are looking for a flexible option for addiction treatment that will enable them to maintain their prior commitments of work, school, or family responsibilities while attending the treatment center for addiction treatment sessions of individual or group therapy sessions. Contact Muse Treatment at (800) 426-1818 today to hear more about the addiction treatment methods available to you to support you in overcoming your drug addiction and put you on the road to recovery to have long-lasting success and happiness in a life of sober living. 

Cocaine Addiction,Heroin Addiction,
Josh Chandler
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