Tag Archives: mixing drugs

Speedballing

Speedballing is combining heroin and cocaine. For many users, it brings about a longer-lasting, more intense high. However, it comes with a serious risk of experiencing a fatal overdose. 

What is Speedballing?

Speedballing involves mixing heroin, which is an opioid, and cocaine, a stimulant. With strong pain-killing potential, heroin is derived from morphine. Even though some opioids, such as fentanyl and methamphetamine, can have medical uses,  heroin is considered to be too addictive and has too high of a potential for abuse to have any medical use. Most drugs which lack medical use and are considered generally dangerous to an individual’s health are listed as  Schedule I drugs by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). 

Speedballing

A common misconception is that the stimulating effects of cocaine and the depressive effects of heroin cancel each other out, causing a risk-free high. However, mixing the two drugs can cause long term health effects and increase the likelihood of experiencing a fatal overdose. 

How does Heroin affect the body?

In order to better understand how mixing the two drugs can increase the overall risk, it can be helpful to better understand how the drugs work independently. Heroin is an opioid. Opioids are powerful painkillers which bind to the opiate receptors in the brain and spinal cord. To put it simply, these opiate receptors help receive nerve impulses that indicate the body is in pain. By binding to these receptors, the body can better suppress physical pain. In addition to its ability to rid feelings of pain, opioids can create a euphoric high in individuals. This is the main driver behind its illicit use.

This euphoric high promotes the body to release dopamine, the “feel good chemical,” in large amounts. Dopamine is the chemical our body releases when it receives a pleasurable input. This dopamine release is what motivated early humans to hunt and reproduce. In modern days, humans get dopamine from various inputs, such as eating, drinking, playing video games, and even being on our phones. This pursuit of pleasure is commonly what drives addiction, especially when coupled with mental health disorders (commonly referred to as  co-occuring disorders or dual diagnoses).

Further, opioids slow down brain and nerve function. This is partly the cause of the euphoric high people experience while taking these drugs. The drug can slow critical organ function such as breathing and heart rate to dangerously low levels. At a certain point, the drug can cause the complete cessation of these functions, causing an overdose. 

Speedballing

How does Cocaine affect the body?

Cocaine is a very powerful stimulant, and like opioids, it causes the release of dopamine into the body – making it a highly addictive drug. Cocaine highs usually come with very intense feelings of energy and alertness. This drug essentially functions as the opposite of opioids. Cocaine overdoses are more rare than opioid overdoses; however, it is still very possible to do so if the levels become too toxic for the body to handle. As with opioids, the body will develop a tolerance to cocaine, making it harder and harder to achieve the same euphoric high feeling after consecutive uses. This leads users to take more of the drug each time, in hopes that it will recreate the same high they first felt. These increasing doses can eventually overwhelm the body and cause an overdose. 

Speedballing Side Effects

The mixture of cocaine and heroin can be ingested either by mixing the two drugs together and injecting or snorting it, or “piggybacked,” where the user injects one drug immediately after the other. Speedballing can cause serious long term effects on the brain, liver, and heart. It can also cause a fatal overdose. Other side effects of speedballing include:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Aneurysm
  • Respiratory failure
  • Confusion 
  • Blurry vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Uncontrollable movements
  • Paranoia 
  • Insomnia 

Also, given the depressive and stimulant effects of the drugs, the body will experience a push and pull effect. This means that the effects of one drug will overcome the other momentarily. The heart rate may rapidly increase and decrease, leading to arrhythmias and heart failure. 

In general, mixing two or more drugs (polysubstance abuse) will cause the drugs to enhance each other. This may sound like a more enjoyable experience, but it also enhances the side effects drastically. 

In 2015 alone, there were 4,271 cocaine related deaths which involved any opioid; 3,481 of those directly involved heroin. This consisted of 65.4% of all cocaine-related deaths that year. Therefore, mixing heroin and cocaine can be directly related to an increase in the chance of death.

Getting help for Speedballing

Cocaine and heroin are two very addictive drugs which are extremely hard to quit. Given the complexities of these drugs, always seek professional help when attempting to recover. This is especially important since powerful withdrawal symptoms can occur when quitting either substance. Find a professional who understands your circumstances and can help you cure your addiction rather than just manage symptoms. Recovery is absolutely possible, but you do not need to do it alone. If you have any questions, or you or a loved one needs help beginning the road to recovery, please contact us today.

Ketamine and Alcohol

Many people have seen ketamine on the news as a rising drug of concern. While many think of it as a ‘horse tranquilizer’, though it acts as an anesthetic, there are other uses. Additionally, a lot of research is still necessary to fully understand it. A lot of people use ketamine recreationally and frequently in a party setting. Subsequently, ketamine and alcohol is an increasingly common combination with many not realizing the dangers.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a common dissociative drug with use as an anesthetic for medical purposes. However, as is the case with many medical drugs, it is possible to find and buy on the street. Dissociative drugs distort the users perception of sound and sight. Many users report feeling expressions of dissociation from their body and mind and find it rather calming. It is possible for an out of mind experience to produce powerful effects and leave the user craving more. This often occurs given its blissful and calming effects. However, these effects are also addictive and can cause a user to abuse ketamine in order to feel happy or high. Some clinical trials show the possibility of using ketamine as an antidepressant. However, there is not yet approval due to the lack of understanding on how ketamine affects the brain chemically.

ketamine and alcohol

Ketamine was developed as a replacement for phencyclidine (PCP) but was discovered to have a high potential for abuse and was later categorized as a controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Specifically, ketamine is a Schedule III which according to the DEA indicates that it has “ a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.” Ketamine affects many neurotransmitters in the brain, but its full chemical mechanism is not yet understood. So far, scientists believe that it blocks the release of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA), which is an excitatory neurotransmitter. NMDA is part of the glutamate class of neurotransmitters which represent one of the largest groups of transmitters in the brain. When released, NMDA speeds up brain function and the firing of neurons in the brain and spinal cord; therefore, when ketamine blocks the release of NMDA, the anesthetic and dissociative functions begin.

ketamine and alcohol

Side Effects

Like any drugs, even if someone perceives there are positive effects, there are negative side effects as well. There are plenty of side effects from taking ketamine which often worsen in combination with other drugs. Some side effects include:

  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Bluish lips or skin
  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting
  • Vertigo
  • Skin rash
  • Hallucinations
  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate

Ketamine’s design is to slow brain function in order to help patients feel no pain during surgeries. Given that it slows brain function, it has the ability to affect respiratory performance by slowing your breathing down. 

Mixing Ketamine and Alcohol

Alcohol, when taken in smaller doses, can have stimulant-like effects on the body and brain; however, it is classified as a depressant. A central nervous system depressant slows down critical CNS functions such as breathing and coordination. When mixing two or more drugs (also known as polysubstance abuse), the effects of one will enhance the effects of the other. In other words, the depressive effects of alcohol will enhance the depressive effects of ketamine and vice-versa. While ketamine overdoses are rare on their own, mixing it with alcohol can greatly increase the chances of a fatal overdose. 

ketamine and alcohol

What is an OD?

An overdose, or commonly referred to as an OD, is your body’s negative biological response to having taken too much of a substance or mix of substances. Someone overdosing from a depressant (such as alcohol) will experience a severe drop in blood pressure, body temperature and breathing. A fatal overdose can occur if the effects of the overdose are so powerful, that breathing completely stops. Again, while ketamine overdoses are quite rare, mixing it with alcohol (or any other powerful depressant such as opioids or benzodiazepines) will exacerbate the overall response and can cause an overdose.

Treatment

substance use disorder

Addiction is considered to be a chronic disease which means that the genetic disposition to have addictive behaviors can be passed down from family members- similar to how other diseases such as Type II Diabetes can be inherited. That also means that addiction has similar relapse rates as some chronic diseases which is why seeking professional treatment and guidance is important in achieving a sober life. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), In 2017, 19.7 million Americans battled with a substance use disorder- and that number is on the rise. With more and more people dealing with the difficulties of addiction, many are finding that professional treatment and support groups offer the best chance at rehabilitation. If you or a loved one is suffering with addiction, please contact us today so we can work together to achieve a sober life.

DXM and Kratom

Popular culture and media is bringing the issue of cough medicine abuse to light. Unfortunately, rather than presenting the dangers of abusing or mixing cough medication, many forms of media tend to glorify the drug. It is reported that 1 in 20 teens have taken DXM to achieve a recreational high. Some users choose to take the stance that its a ‘better’ addiction than alcohol or opioids- however, abusing any medication carries serious risks and consequences. Increasingly, people are experimenting with a combination of DXM and kratom.

What is DXM?

Dextromethorphan or more commonly known as a DXM is an over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medication. DXM is from a derivative of morphine, a very powerful opioid, but is not technically an opioid. Due to the effects it can have, it behaves like an opioid without the painkilling effects. It is effective at suppressing the average cough and creates some sedation which can help sick individuals relax or fall asleep. Unfortunately, when taken in much higher doses, DXM sometimes causes individuals to experience a euphoric high which is then sought after. 

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), DXM is an antitussive (a type of medication used to stop a cough) found in over 120 cold medications (such as Vicks 44, NyQuil, Robitussin). The typical dosage is 15-30mg taken 3-4 times a day. When abused however, individuals can end up taking 100-1500mg a day. The DEA provides a ranking of “plateaus” which describes how users can manipulate different doses to achieve different effects.

  1. 100-200mg → Mild stimulation
  2. 200-400mg → Euphoria and hallucinations
  3. 300-600mg → Distorted visual perceptions, loss of motor coordination
  4. 500-1500mg → Dissociative sedation

The DEA will schedule certain drugs it deems to be dangerous and hazardous to the public’s health under its own classification system. For example, Methamphetamine is considered a schedule 1 drug and therefore is very dangerous. DXM is not classified under this system. It is typically found in liquid form but illicit websites and users have begun selling the drug in capsule or powder form.

DXM Side Effects

Some side effects of DXM include:

  • Sweating
  • Rashes or red, blotchy skin (not an allergic reaction)
  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired judgment
  • Reduced cognitive ability
  • Nystagmus, or rapid eye movements
  • Visual disturbances
  • Liver damage
  • Disorentiation

In high doses, the effects of DXM mimic those of Ketamine and PCP. A DXM overdose is possible if an individual takes enough of it. Given its suppressive effects, it can cause slowed breathing and critical organ function. 

How Long Does DXM Stay In Your System?

Testing for DXM is rare because of its common use as a cough suppressant. However, the drug can trigger false positives for PCP. DXM has a half-life of around 4 hours. A substance’s half-life is the time it takes for the chemical to reduce to 50% of its original size. Given its half-life elimination time, it can be assumed that most users can get rid of the chemical around 16.5 and 33 hours. While the chemical itself may be gone, this does not mean that traces cannot be tested for. 

DXM can be detected in:

  • Urine 24-48 hours after ingestion
  • Blood 3-24 hours after ingestion
  • Saliva does not apply as most OTC medications are taken orally
  • Hair up to 90 days after ingestion

What is Kratom?

Kratom is a plant found in Southeast Asia which is beginning to find its way into U.S. markets. Its leaves contain a chemical which produces a psychotropic (mind-altering) effect. The use of kratom is still pretty minimal in the U.S. but as of now, there is no nationwide ban or enforcement of the drug. In fact, most users can buy it online, although some states have banned the substance. According to the National Poison Data System, between 2011-2017 there were 11 deaths associated with kratom use.

dmx and kratom

Kratom’s effects are unpredictable. It is possible to use as a stimulant in lower doses, but can also have a heavy sedative effect when taken in higher doses. The lack of research on the effects of kratom makes it difficult to fully understand the negative side-effects. However, users can expect to experience:

  • Disrupted sleep
  • Increased energy and alertness
  • Drowsiness
  • Cough suppression
  • Pain reduction
  • Psychosis
  • Weight loss

While not all of these effects are necessarily negative, some negative short-term effects include:

  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation 

How Long Does Kratom Stay In Your System?

There is currently no drug test for kratom. However, the duration of the chemicals presence in your body lasts due to:

  • Frequency of use
  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Body fat
  • Metabolic rate
dxm and kratom

Mixing DXM and Kratom

It is possible to abuse both DXM and kratom to provide a sedative effect on the mind and body. While DXM may do a better job at this than kratom, mixing the two substances can greatly enhance the suppression effects. If taken at the same time, bodily function and critical organs may slow down to a dangerously low point, putting the user at risk of an overdose. The use of Naloxone has been proven to work against a patient overdosing on DXM and may save their life. 

Treatment

Cough syrup addiction and the tendency to mix it with other drugs as seen in popular culture presents a serious risk to those who do not understand the dangers. If you or a loved one is struggling with cough syrup abuse or addiction, please contact us today so we can begin the journey to a sober life.