What is a Speedball? Symptoms and Dangers

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Addiction is a serious condition that affects millions of Americans each year. Unfortunately, substance abuse puts you at a high risk of experiencing a life-threatening overdose. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 106,000 people died from a drug overdose in 2021.

If you struggle with substance abuse, you know how common it is to experiment with drug combinations. You might mix opioids with alcohol or drink while you are taking a benzo like Xanax. Additionally, it is common to mix stimulants with depressant drugs.

No matter what drug combination you are using, mixing substances increases the risk of overdose. Mixing stimulants and depressants is so common that it has its own term: “speedballing.”

Speedballing is the act of taking a depressant and stimulant drug at the same time. Understanding the side effects and dangers of speedballing can prevent you from developing negative side effects and fatal overdoses.

What is a Speedball?

A speedball combines a stimulant and depressant drug to experience a different type of high. Stimulants cause increased energy, fast heart rate, and high blood pressure. On the other hand, depressant drugs slow down activity in your brain and body.

While speedballing is traditionally a combination of heroin and cocaine, any stimulant or depressant drugs can be mixed to create this type of high.

Stimulants that might be used in combination with depressants include:

  • Cocaine
  • Crack
  • Meth
  • Prescription stimulants like Adderall or Vyvanse

Depressants used to speedball might include:

  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl
  • Prescription opioids like morphine or oxycodone

Combining cocaine with heroin or other depressants can be incredibly dangerous. While you might experience a mixture of pleasurable feelings, you could also develop adverse effects. For example, speedballing can lead to health issues like increased heart rate, heart attack, respiratory failure, and overdose.

Side Effects of Mixing Stimulants and Depressants

The exact effects you experience depend on which drugs you are combining. Mixing meth and heroin might cause a different effect than combining cocaine and oxycodone. That being said, most stimulant and depressant drugs share similar side effects, making it easy to anticipate what effects you will experience.

Stimulants cause increased energy, a fast heart rate, and a lessened need for sleep and food. Depressants cause drowsiness, dizziness, slowed breathing, and feelings of euphoria. When combined, a dangerous push-and-pull effect is created.

The side effects of speedballing include:

  • Mental confusion
  • Vision problems like blurriness
  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Unsteadiness or coordination issues
  • Feelings of anxiety or paranoia
  • Slowed breathing rate
  • Increased heart rate and high blood pressure
  • Feelings of euphoria and pleasure

Because speedballs can cause euphoria, they are highly addictive. You could develop a cocaine or heroin addiction after mixing heroin or cocaine. Thankfully, addiction treatment centers can help you achieve sobriety and regain control over your life.

Can You Get Addicted to Speedballs?

Abusing any type of mind-altering substance can lead to addiction. Combining two addictive drugs makes you more likely to experience a substance use disorder. Knowing the signs of addiction can help you determine whether it’s time to attend a drug rehab program.

The signs of speedball addiction include:

  • Using more of a stimulant or depressant drug than you are prescribed
  • Combining drugs like heroin and meth
  • Losing interest in previously enjoyed activities to speedball more often
  • Experiencing abrupt changes in mood
  • Failing to meet responsibilities at home, school, or work
  • Being unable to control the dose or frequency of speedballs
  • Desiring to stop speedballing but being unsuccessful
  • Experiencing cravings to misuse stimulants and depressants
  • Dealing with withdrawal symptoms when you are not using depressant and stimulant drugs

Long-term abuse of stimulants and depressants will lead to addiction. Even further, combining these drugs puts you at risk of both physical and mental health effects. If you or a loved one suffers from speedball addiction, it’s time to seek professional help.

Dangers of Combining Depressants and Stimulants

Mixing stimulants and depressant drugs will confuse your brain and body. You are taking a drug that causes increased heart rate and blood pressure with a substance that depresses the central nervous system. Because of the confusion your system is experiencing, you could experience a wide range of health emergencies.

The physical dangers of speedballing include:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory depression
  • Coma
  • Fatal overdoses

Speedballing can also cause dangerous psychological effects. The mental health risks of this type of drug combination include:

  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Substance-induced psychosis
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Insomnia

Due to these risks, you should avoid combining stimulant and depressant drugs. If you are addicted to speedballing, consider attending an addiction treatment center. These programs will offer you medical detox, evidence-based therapies, and important relapse prevention skills.

Find Help for Drug Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one frequently speedballs or abuses other types of drugs, it’s time to seek help. Drug rehab centers can help you tackle the underlying causes of your addiction, removing your desire to abuse drugs in the first place.

Contact New Jersey Interventions today to get connected with a top-rated drug and alcohol treatment center.

Medically Reviewed: April 23, 2024

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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