Speedballing is the practice of combining two powerful substances – heroin and cocaine – and taking both at once. Cocaine is classified as a stimulant, which increases activity in your nervous system. Heroin, on the other hand, is a depressant, which has the opposite effect. Taken together, these drugs can wreak havoc on your body.
Speedball users believe they can avoid the negative effects of both drugs when taking them together. They think the push-pull effects of the drugs will balance each other out.
But this is not what really happens. In fact, the negative effects are compounded.
In particular, the combination of heroin and cocaine can have the potentially fatal side effect of oxygen deprivation. As cocaine stimulates your nervous system, you will become more physically active. In turn, your body will need more oxygen. But the depressant effect of heroin causes your lungs to slow down, so you cannot breathe fast enough to get the extra oxygen. If your oxygen level drops too much, it becomes a life-threatening condition.
If you have a speedball addiction, it is best to enroll in a detox program. Read on to find out what you can expect out of it.
What happens during speedball detox?
Detox is a procedure with the goal of eliminating all traces of speedball from your body. This procedure is administered by medical professionals. They will assist you through the entire process, keeping you safe and comfortable all the way.
Drug detoxes are often the first stages of addiction treatment programs. The aim here is to make your body accustomed to taking no speedball. Since this is a case of polydrug use, detoxing from speedball may take longer than detoxing from addictions to just one drug.
Even if detox is controlled and medically-assisted, it is still possible for you to experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal happens normally whenever you start to quit any substance you have an addiction to.
In the case of speedball, its withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Decreased alertness and activity level
- Muscle spasms
- Drug cravings
- Vivid, unpleasant dreams
- General discomfort
- Increased appetite
These symptoms are quite similar to those of cocaine and heroin. You can develop any combination of these symptoms, and they get more severe if you have:
- Been taking speedball for a long time already
- Been taking speedball frequently
- Been taking large doses of speedball
“Cold turkey” method
Withdrawal symptoms are made worse when you quit speedball “cold turkey.” This is when you suddenly stop taking the drugs, and your body is “shocked” by the sudden disappearance of speedball. Withdrawal symptoms become worse because your body has no time to adjust.
For this reason, medical professionals never recommend quitting drugs cold turkey. In some cases, withdrawal can even turn fatal.
Tapering off involves slowly reducing your dose of speedball until it reaches zero. This is the method that medical professionals perform because it’s a lot safer and makes your detox process more tolerable.
When you limit your intake of speedball gradually, your body will have time to adjust to the progressively decreasing amount of the drugs. Withdrawal will still occur, but the symptoms will be milder and easier to manage.
The tapering method is how detox is made less painful. If your body responds well, the entire process may even be painless and comfortable.
Despite the precautions taken during speedball detox, it’s still possible for you to feel some discomfort. To help you ease the pain, doctors may give you a few medications. That way, your detox becomes more comfortable.
The medications used in speedball detox may be similar to those used in cocaine or heroin detox. Here are a few examples:
These medications counteract the psychoactive effects of heroin and cocaine, the two components of speedball. You most likely won’t need all of these medications, but your doctors may prescribe more than one. If needed, you will take multiple medications to address multiple withdrawal symptoms at once.
How long does speedball detox last?
Typical drug detoxes last about one week. However, speedball addiction is a case of polydrug use, so detox will likely take longer. It is harder to quit using two drugs simultaneously than just one.
Medical personnel will monitor you 24/7 during the entire procedure. So if you feel any sort of pain, discomfort, or encounter life-threatening emergencies, they can give you immediate care.
Is it possible to detox without medical supervision?
Detoxing from speedball is extremely difficult without medical assistance. The withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings may prove too much for you to handle on your own. Also, you will not get immediate medical attention if ever you develop any potentially fatal conditions.
Additionally, polydrug use cases require more care and attention than addictions to only one drug. Thus, you will have the best results from detox if it’s done with medical supervision.
Will I be fully sober after detox?
Detox only removes the addictive substances from your body. Speedball will still have a number of lingering effects on your mind and emotions, especially since it’s a combination of two drugs.
To address the psychological damage done by speedball, you will need to go through a series of behavioral therapies. Each of these is designed to equip you with the right skills, attitudes, and strategies to keep your mind off any thoughts of drugs.
One popular and highly effective technique is called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT aims to equip you with a set of skills you can use to combat drug use. Your therapist will help you get to the root cause of your addiction as well. CBT is especially useful in correcting false beliefs you hold about your addiction. When these beliefs are replaced with more realistic ones, you will be able to recover more effectively.
Other helpful evidence-based therapies include:
- Motivational enhancement therapy
- Contingency management
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Psychotherapy (talk therapy)
- Recreational therapy
Once you have completed your rounds of behavioral therapies, you can once again live a drug-free lifestyle.