Speedballing is a popular term for the mixing of heroin or morphine with cocaine or methamphetamine. This is a potentially lethal concoction: the cocaine acts as a stimulant, raising the pulse, but its effects wear off more quickly than those of heroin or morphine, which in turn slow the heart down. "Speedballs" make you feel numb and it's as if a freight-train is rolling through your head. As a result, it is possible to experience a delayed "overdose" (technically, severe respiratory depression) when the stimulant wears off and the full effects of the heroin or morphine are felt in isolation. Sometimes, other combinations of stimulants and depressants are referred to as speedballs, such as the use of amphetamines in conjunction with opiates, benzodiazepines or barbiturates. A Vodka Red Bull is sometimes referred to as a speedball since it contains the alcohol depressant and the caffeine stimulant.
Speedball use in popular culture
Speedball use was a contributor to the cause of several high-profile deaths, including that of John Belushi, Chris Farley , Brent Mydland, Layne Staley, River Phoenix, Mitch Hedberg, Eric Show, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Hillel Slovak; David Gahan overdosed on a speedball but survived.
- U.S. Office of National Drug Policy, National Trends in Drug Abuse Summer 1998, Special Section: Speedballingcs:Speedballit:Speedball