Meth and heroin used together might seem no more harmful than using the two separately. It might even sound like a good idea. Heroin is a depressant and meth a stimulant. Using them together should balance out the harmful effects of each and leave nothing but the good.
Unfortunately, this assumption is dead wrong. Called “speedballs”, this deadly combination of meth and opiates amplifies the risk of each drug. They work together to create health risks that are more dangerous than those of the individual drugs. People combine these drugs for various reasons, but in the face of the enormous threat to your health and your life, they’re best avoided. If you or someone you know has a problem with mingling meth and heroin, it’s vital to reach out for help. We can guide you to the best recovery services as well as providing all the information you need to make an informed decision. Reach out to our experts today at 706-480-8733.
Meth and heroin may sound like a tempting combination, but they are a deadly mix. Continue reading to learn why speedballs are not something you want to play with.
How Does Addiction Start?
Hormones released by your brain regulate your emotions. When you’re happy, your mind is swimming in chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals flow naturally as a response to outside stimuli. For example, you get a serotonin boost when you feel appreciated. The pleasure you feel when you accomplish your goals is from dopamine.
There is a slew of natural ways to increase your neurochemicals. Things like exercise, meditation, and even chocolate can help your brain produce these chemicals. Substances like alcohol and drugs use this system too, but they tend to overload it in a way that is highly pleasurable at first but can do a lot of damage over time.
Drugs outperform safer ways of getting your brain to release these chemicals. When you have a pleasant experience with a drug, you’ll probably be inclined to try it again.
Addiction occurs when someone pursues their substance of choice regardless of the consequences. However, because of the nature of drug use, the road to addiction starts the first time you take the substance. With the first occurrence of drug use, you’re likely to feel great. It might take away physical pain you’ve been managing or breakthrough feelings of deep depression. So, you retake it, only it doesn’t quite feel the same as the first. What happened?
Your brain will immediately start to build a resistance to any substance you put in it. The first experience you get when taking a drug for the first time will never be reached again, but you’ll still feel compelled to chase it. The more you take, the less it works. Eventually, you will overtax your brain’s reward system to the point where your drug of choice is the only thing that can trigger it.
What Does Meth Do To You?
Methamphetamine, or meth, is a powerful, highly addictive drug. Historically, meth was used to boost wakefulness and cause weight loss. Today, the only medical use recognized by the US government is as a treatment for obesity and ADHD. These are by prescription only and usually used as a last resort.
Most meth users smoke the substance out of a pipe, but others snort, swallow, or inject it. The latter three ways often occur with advanced users as they try to recreate the highs they felt in the beginning. Users report a feeling of euphoria when they use meth. It floods the brain with extraordinary amounts of dopamine. Not only does it make you feel happy, it also makes you confident and energetic.
Once addicted to meth, people will strive to recreate the feelings of euphoria while gaining a tolerance for it. This leads to higher and riskier doses. Eventually, the only pleasurable feeling they have will come from the drug. Meth abuse comes with a host of nasty side effects, some of which can last for years after addiction recovery. Physical damage to the body is typical with most substance abuse, but meth causes additional problems to the mind. Prolonged use can cause confusion, paranoia, anxiety, insomnia, and violent outbursts. Addiction can also lead to meth psychosis, which includes hallucinations and delusions. Even after getting clean, psychotic episodes can persist for years afterward, usually triggered by stress.
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What About Heroin?
Heroin is considered an opioid, along with less potent drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone. Opioids are used medically to treat severe pain – think, surgeries, cancers, and other long-term illnesses. Heroin derives from the poppy plant, but it’s processed to the point it’s considered a synthetic drug. This is a highly addictive, dangerous drug that claimed the lives of over 15,000 people in 2018. America is currently in an epidemic of opioid use, including prescription pills, fentanyl, and heroin. It’s reached crisis proportions, and anyone struggling with an addiction is strongly encouraged to reach out for help.
While some people snort or smoke heroin, most people inject it. Aside from the drug’s harmful side effects, injecting heroin comes with the additional risk of using a dirty needle. STIs and other dangerous infections are often waiting at the tip of a used needle. Heroin releases a flood of different neurotransmitters, like dopamine, into your body. While addiction usually takes hold over time, heroin is a rare substance that can get you hooked the first time you use it. You won’t necessarily be addicted, but the high is so intense that you might as well be. Users report euphoric feelings followed by a calm, soothing dream-like state that lasts for hours. Because heroin is an opioid, it also blocks your brain from feeling pain.
While using heroin, the immediate danger is that it slows your heartbeat and breathing, leading to death. Mixing heroin and other substances like alcohol compounds. Your long-term health will suffer as well: collapsed veins from injecting, heart damage, and liver or kidney disease are all common health issues. Heroin also deteriorates the white matter in your brain, affecting your ability to control your emotions, decision-making skills, and how you handle stress.
Why Combine Drugs?
The simplest way to explain why people combine drugs is it creates bigger highs. Often, combining two or more illicit substances will create a new, more intense experience than one drug alone can produce. However, combining drugs also increases the risk of taking them. For example, people often take opioid pain killers in conjunction with alcohol. This creates a feeling of deep happiness and relaxation, but it also drastically ups the chance that the user will stop breathing.
Known as polydrug use, people often use multiple drugs to combat side effects they find undesirable. This usually comes in the form of mixing a depressant with a stimulant. Stimulants are drugs that amp you up, things like cocaine and ecstasy. Depressants slow you down, like heroin and alcohol. People try to combine them to get the strong feel-good effects from the depressant while skipping the drowsiness that comes with it.
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What Is A Speedball?
Heroin is a depressant, so it is often used together with stimulant drugs. This combination is known as a speedball. Traditionally, speedballs were created by using heroin and cocaine. Recently, meth has been replacing cocaine in this deadly mix.
Meth and opiates can create a powerful high when used together. Heroin produces the euphoria and relieves pain, while meth allows users to function in their day to day lives. This is an alluring combination, especially for people who use heroin to manage chronic pain.
Using meth and heroin together intensifies the dangers of each drug. Because they are opposites, they can hide the warning signs of an impending overdose. Meth, as an “upper”, makes it hard to notice the effect heroin can have on your breathing. One danger specific to this combination is that the effects of meth last longer than heroin. As the heroin wears off, the meth can cause your adrenaline to spike. This can be disastrous for your heart and put you at acute risk of stroke and heart attack.
Speedball Overdose Symptoms
Many of the usual signs of an overdose are present when the emergency stems from a speedball. These include the symptoms from stimulants (high blood pressure or a strong, racing heartbeat) and depressants (drowsiness or labored breathing).
Additionally, speedball overdose symptoms include:
- Confusion or incoherence
- Blurred vision
- Mental impairment
- Erratic or uncoordinated motor skills
- Withdrawal symptoms
Because heroin and meth are so addictive, withdrawal symptoms can set in quickly. Quitting by yourself can be almost impossible because of the health risks involved with a withdrawal state. These symptoms include fatigue, anxiety, depression, meth psychosis, nausea or diarrhea, cramping, and sweating. Of course, being in withdrawal also includes intense cravings for the drug.
Using meth and heroin together can be a fatal decision, and you might not see the danger coming because the two mask each other’s negative effects so well. Using speedballs also increases your chance of fatal complications like heart attacks, respiratory failure, aneurysm, and stroke.
If you are battling addiction alone, then please reach out to us. We will be able to help you get the help you deserve and get you on a path to healthiness and happiness.
How Do I Get Clean?
Using meth and heroin in conjunction leads to a powerful addiction, one that, because of withdrawal symptoms, can be as dangerous to try to fight as it is to give in to. If you’re struggling with addiction to meth and heroin, the best thing you can do is seek professional help.
There is an assumption, familiar to many people who have never faced addiction, that quitting is a willpower matter. Spontaneous recovery works for some, but that number is statistically low. The more severe the habit, the smaller those numbers become. Remember that addiction doesn’t make you weak or a wrong person. However, you came into your addiction. These are potent drugs that rewire your brain to need more of them. Professional help can assist you in managing your addiction safely.
One treatment option that has proven successful for many people is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. CBT is more than just a detox program. This therapy focuses on the why of your addiction. It helps you learn your patterns of destructive thoughts and behaviors and develop ways to overcome them. It also strives to teach you methods to avoid relapse and coping skills to manage temptations, also known as triggers. CBT and other recovery programs can show you strategies to deal with the things in your life that lead you to drugs.
Many people that use heroin end up there because they were using opioids to manage pain. Either their tolerance increases to the point where pills aren’t enough, or a doctor will no longer renew it. People that use opioid pain killers are 40 times more likely to get addicted to heroin than non-users. When struggling with pain management, another service therapy offers medical guidance on new, healthier ways to treat your pain.
Avoid The Dangers Of Speedballs
Heroin and meth used together may sound appealing, but the dangers are astronomical. Individually, these drugs tear apart the body and the mind and ruin lives. The adverse side effects of both are only amplified when used together. If you are using, your best option to move forward with your life is to get treatment. Even if you think you aren’t addicted, abusing these drugs can have devastating health consequences. Professionals can help guide you away from dangerous behavior whose consequences could affect you for the rest of your life.
If someone you love, or you, are struggling with meth and heroin addiction, reach out today by calling the number below. We have the resources you need to secure a healthier, happier future.
By Malory McDermott