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Speedballing: My Ride on the Roller Coaster

I was introduced to speedballing by a heavy cocaine addict. I was pacing the house a half-hour after snorting a few lines, fidgeting, trying to relieve some of the anxiety I was feeling. My friend was packing a bowl of spice because we both knew the anxiety would go away when I hit it.

What Is Speedballing?

Essentially, that is what speedballing is: using an upper (coke) and a downer (spice) to confuse the brain and to ward off the negative effects of both drugs. Coke’s negatives being anxiety and restlessness, and spice’s negatives being sleepiness and lethargic behavior. Mixing substances (using more than one drug at the same time) is also known as polysubstance use.

Effects of Speedballing

I didn’t realize how dangerous the side effects of speedballing would be until I had my first cocaine overdose. Along with confusing the brain with the mix of uppers and downers, it makes it seem like your tolerance is lower, so I did more coke than I could handle.

Normally, I know when I’ve taken too much but this time I didn’t realize it until I was retching all over the bathroom and passing out on the tile floor. I survived that experience because I wasn’t alone. I never would have gotten off that bathroom floor by myself and I’m sure I would have died.

What Does Speedballing Feel Like?

A typical ride on the speedballing roller coaster starts out with the upper. You ride that high for an hour or so until you feel it dropping a bit, then you have the choice to continue going up or take a dip down. By down, I don’t mean back towards sobriety. It’s the down feeling of a different high. Typically when people discuss speedballing, they’re referring to heroin and cocaine. But it just comes down to mixing chemical signals to overload the mind and body with adrenaline and serotonin.

The question to ask is: why are people doing this to themselves? The answer is simple enough, for the intense high. You go up and then drop down a little to rocket back up and back down and finally you take a large amount of downers and drift off to sleep, avoiding the negatives of coming down off the uppers. Normally my friend and I would make a night of it, once on the weekend. Eventually it became the only thing I looked forward to, but it wasn’t something I could do every day. It’s an expensive habit.

I’ve never tried heroin, but I’ve watched some people speedball with heroin and cocaine. Some would snort both, others would mix the two substances in the same syringe and inject it. Heroin and cocaine is the most lethal combination for speedballing, but you can mix any upper and downer to achieve a similar effect.

Speedballing is not for the faint of heart, and it’s not a common trend with casual users. When you participate in speedballing of any kind, you are asking for death. I know I had a death wish; I just wanted to ride that ride to get there because there’s nothing else like it in the world. I wanted to die, but I wanted to go out in the blaze of glory that speedballing makes you feel. Vomit-covered, heart racing, spasming–a wreck of a human thinking she found heaven in a drug only to wake up to a messy reality.

Treatment Options for Speedballing

It is extremely dangerous to mix substances. If you are struggling with polysubstance use or speedballing, there are many treatment options to control cocaine and heroin misuse.

Treatment centers provide an initial evaluation to determine which course of treatment would most benefit the individual.

Detox services may be needed depending on the substances being mixed, and inpatient and outpatient care are also available. Most treatment programs also incorporate various forms of behavioral therapy.

Find Rehabs for Polysubstance Misuse

If you or a loved one are struggling with polysubstance misuse, help is available. Rehab programs are available across the United States. The treatment directory tool on can help you find polysubstance rehabs that fit your needs.

The search for a treatment program can be done online, but helpful admissions navigators are also available by phone to assist you at any time. Call .

To find out if your addiction treatment will be covered under your health insurance plan, complete the form below or click here. Start on your path to recovery today.

Amy Williams is a pseudonym for a 22-year-old female student in Indiana

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