What are Speedballs?
The practice of speedballing among drug users dates back to the 1930s however, it got a lot of media and public attention in March of 1982 with the death of beloved actor and comedian John Belushi.
A speedball is the mixture of cocaine and heroin together or one being used right after the other most likely through IV use but it can also be insufflated, or snorted. People do speedballs because of the intense high it produces; often described as getting the best of both worlds, the user gets both the euphoric high of cocaine in addition to that of the heroin. I personally liked shooting the coke first and, as I started to come down from that, which would produce some anxiety, I would then shoot the heroin. That would ease the cocaine come down and replace it with that opiate high I was craving.
The term speedballing can also be applied to use of prescription painkillers, benzodiazepines or barbiturates along with amphetamines.
What is the Attraction to doing Speedballs?
Research shows that most people who do speedballs are typically heroin users who decide to indulge adding cocaine to drug ritual as a bonus when they had the funds for it and who are looking for a new, more intense high.
People who do speedballs are seeking the flash, or high, from cocaine followed by the mellowing effect of heroin.
Speedballs are Crazy Dangerous
Heroin is a depressant that affects the brain’s pleasure systems and interferes with the brain’s ability to perceive pain. Being a depressant, it slows down Central Nervous System functions like heart rate, pulse and breathing.
On the other hand, you have cocaine, a stimulant. It has the opposite effect on your body. This causes complications in the usually well-oiled machine of a healthy body that works in harmony with all its parts. By introducing both a powerful stimulant and a powerful depressant, the brain can become confused, causing the signals to go haywire.
Another reason that speedballing can end tragically is because the stimulant effects of cocaine wear off far more quickly than the depressant effects of heroin. So because of the countering effect of the cocaine, a fatally high dose of heroin is accidentally administered without immediate incapacitation, thus providing a false sense of tolerance until it is too late. This is known as a delayed opioid overdose and is believed to be the most common way that speedball overdoses and death occur.
Additionally, because the two drugs counter the effects of each other, the user often doesn’t realize that they are doing a fatal dose of either or both the heroin and cocaine. They may have a false sense of increased tolerance to the drugs and therefore use a fatal amount, leading to oversdose.
Notable Deaths from Speedballing
Jean-Michel Basquiat, American graffiti artist
John Belushi, comedian, actor, and musician
Ken Caminiti, third baseman
Chris Farley, comedian and actor
Pete Farndon, English bassist from the band the Pretenders
Mitch Hedberg stand-up comedian
Chris Kelly, from rap duo Kriss Kross
Brent Mydland, keyboardist from the Grateful Dead
River Phoenix, actor
Eric Show, pitcher for the Major Leagues
Hillel Slovak, original guitarist and founding member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers
Layne Staley, lead singer and co-songwriter of the band Alice in Chains
King George V of the United Kingdom, king of England
If your loved one is in need of treatment for heroin or cocaine addiction, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
Here it is folks, another entry in our series Drug Myths Debunked.
And, as always, these articles are meant to clear the air about specific drugs. They are in no way a recommendation to go and use any of the drugs mentioned.
Prescription Pills, such as painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs such as Xanax, have a time and a place in treating people for certain problems. Because they are legally-obtained, many people think these medications are safe to take. But prescription pills are drugs, nonetheless, and are powerful drugs at that.
Although widespread, addiction to prescription painkillers is also widely misunderstood — and those misunderstandings can be dangerous and frightening for patients dealing with pain.
There are many myths and misconceptions about prescription pills so, below, we have compiled a list of 10 common myths debunked.
1. Myth – If I have withdrawal symptoms when I quit that means that I’m addicted.
Truth – That doesn’t necessarily mean that you are addicted. If you find that you need to take more of your prescription pills for them to have an effect (tolerance) or if you experience withdrawals when you stop taking them, then you are what is known as physically dependent.
Many people mistakenly use the term “addiction” to refer to physical dependence. That includes doctors. Addiction is defined as a chronic disease which involves both obsessive thoughts about using and compulsive use of a drug that produces harm or dysfunction. Furthermore, addiction is the continued use despite negative consequences (i.e. to health, legal problems, and relationships).
2. Myth – Everyone gets addicted to prescription pills such as painkillers and benzos if they take them long enough.
Truth – “The vast majority of people, when prescribed these medications, use them correctly without developing addiction,” says Marvin Seppala, MD, chief medical officer at the Hazelden Foundation, an addiction treatment center in Center City, Minn.
3. Myth – So, if most people don’t get addicted to prescription pills such as painkillers, I can use them without consequence.
Truth – Prescription pills such as painkillers (and any other drug) should only be taken as prescribed. These are powerful, potent drugs and should not be thought of as anything less than that.
4. Myth – Since these are such powerful drugs and potentially dangerous, maybe it’s better to bear the pain than risk addiction.
Truth – Undertreating pain can cause needless suffering. If you have pain, talk to your doctor about it, and if you’re afraid about addiction, talk with them about that, too.
5. Myth – Getting rid of the pain is the only reason to get treatment.
Truth – Pain relief is key, but it’s not the only goal. The goal is functional restoration, meaning being able to tend to activities of daily living, as well as forming friendships and an appropriate social environment.
6. Myth – I won’t get addicted because I’m a strong person.
Truth – Addiction isn’t about willpower or having bad morals. Addiction is recognized as a chronic disease by medical professionals and there is evidence that some people have a genetic predisposition to forming an addiction in their lifetime.
7. Myth – My doctor will make sure that I don’t become addicted.
Truth – Doctors don’t intend for their patients to become addicted but, they may not have much training in addiction, or in pain management. That being said, it is not their intention to get their patients hooked on prescription pills but, their lack of understanding addiction can leave them blind to the potential when treating patients.
8. Myth – Prescription pills are safer than illegal drugs because my doctor prescribed them to me.
Truth – Many prescription pills are as powerful, and maybe even more powerful, than their illegal counterparts. Just because it is something your doctor prescribed to you does not mean that it is completely safe or without side effects and potential harm.
9. Myth – My doctor prescribed it for me, so I must need it.
Truth – Patients should never just accept what their doctor tells them without engaging in a dialogue and asking questions. If you feel that your doctor isn’t listening to your concerns, get a second opinion. Remember, cautious and trustworthy doctors do not automatically write you prescription pills the moment you say you are having anxiety, pain, or difficulty sleeping. They first recommend other options that don’t necessarily involve medications, such as exercise, change in diet, and ways to develop better sleep habits.
10. Myth –If you’re treating real pain, you can’t get addicted to prescription pain killers.
Truth – You certainly can become addicted regardless if your pain is real or you just like the feeling prescription pills give you. In fact, many people who become addicted to pain killers had legitimate pain when they started taking prescription pills. The true goal of pain management is to make the pain manageable. That is, reducing the level of pain from say an 8 to a 3. That way, the pain is tolerable and the patient can continue to participate in their daily activities.
If your loved one is in need of treatment prescription pill addiction, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
Prescription pill addiction has become so common in the United States that it has been labeled an epidemic. Thousands of Americans rely on prescription painkillers for the relief of pain, discomfort from ailments such as headaches, menstrual cramps, surgery recovery, or lingering pain from an injury. Unfortunately for many people, reliance on prescription pills can easily and unknowingly turn into a physical dependence.
The most commonly abused prescription pills are:
- Opioids, such as oxycodone (Oxycontin) and those containing hydrocodone (Vicodin), used to treat pain.
- Anti-anxiety medications and sedatives, such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium), and hypnotics, such as zolpidem (Ambien), used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders.
- Stimulants, such as methylphenidate (Ritalin), used to treat ADHD and certain sleep disorders
The scary fact about prescription pills is that the most commonly prescribed drugs including OxyContin, Vicodin, Methadone, Darvocet, Lortab and Percocet, Adderall, Ritalin, and Valium, while they do offer relief from pain and other ailments, can also cause individuals to become physically dependent on the drugs to feel normal. Eventually this physical dependence on prescription pills can lead them down a dark road into prescription pill addiction. On a side note, there are some people who begin taking prescription pills recreationally and find themselves in the same boat.
Here are 5 signs of prescription pill addiction:
Usage Increase – Over time, it is common for individuals taking prescription medications to grow tolerant to the effects of their prescribed dose. If someone you know seems to be increasing his/her dose over time, this is an indication that the amount they were taking is no longer providing them relief.
Change in Daily Habits and Appearance – Personal hygiene may diminish as a result of a drug addiction. Sleeping and eating habits change, and a person may have a constant cough, runny nose and red, glazed eyes.
Blackouts and Forgetfulness – Another clear indication of dependence is when the person regularly forgets events that have taken place and appears to be suffering blackouts.
Defensiveness – When attempting to hide a drug dependency, abusers can become very defensive if they feel their secret is being discovered. They might even react to simple requests or questions by lashing out.
Time Spent on Obtaining Prescriptions – A dependent person will spend large amounts of time driving great distances and visiting multiple doctors to obtain the drugs. Watch for signs that he or she seems preoccupied with a quest for medication, demonstrating that the drug has become their top priority.
Other signs of prescription pill addiction are:
- Stealing, forging or selling prescriptions
- Taking higher doses than prescribed
- Excessive mood swings or hostility
- Increase or decrease in sleep
- Poor decision making
- Appearing to be high, unusually energetic or revved up, or sedated
- Continually “losing” prescriptions, so more prescriptions must be written
- Seeking prescriptions from more than one doctor (Doctor shopping)
Luckily anyone who has prescription pill addiction can get help and doesn’t have to continue on in the vicious cycle that is prescription pill dependence. There are many inpatient treatment centers and detoxes as well as outpatient ones to treat any kind of prescription pill addiction.
If your loved one is in need of treatment prescription pill addiction, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
Before drugs like Opana and Exalgo were the new drugs of choice for pain management clinics it was Roxicodone and before that the very popular drug of abuse OxyContin. It really seems like as soon as we get a handle on one drug distributed through pain management clinics; new drugs appear within the pain management clinics. Here is the story of how Opana and Exalgo became the new drugs of choice for pain management clinics.
The story behind Big Pharma and drugs like Opana and Exalgo for pain management clinics
In 2011, to try to curb abuse of the drug Oxycontin, manufacturers added additional binders to the formulation to prevent the grinding of tablets for insufflation or injection, and to maintain OxyContin’s extended release characteristics. The added binders greatly reduced the recreational value of OxyContin, because they were not easily broken down. Also, the bad press caused many doctors to stop prescribing it. Big Pharma responded to the decrease in OxyContin use with the release of Roxicodone (short-acting, immediate release form of oxycodone) and an even newer and more powerful prescription narcotic: Opana.
Officials are simply unable to pass legislation quickly enough to stem the tide of doctors writing illegitimate prescriptions and prescription drug manufacturers releasing new kinds of narcotic pain medication. And where are all these prescriptions written? Pain management clinics.
What are pain management clinics?
Pain management clinics are meant to be a branch of medicine that eases the suffering and improves the quality of life for those living in pain. Unfortunately many pain management clinics are merely fronts for drug dealing doctors. And the latest drugs that these pain management clinics are doling out are Opana and Exalgo.
What are Opana and Exalgo?
Opana and Exalgo are scientifically known as oxymorphone and hydromorphone. Essentially Opana and Exalgo are interchangeable and highly potent. Both, of course, are used in the treatment of moderate to severe pain and would be exactly why they are the new drug of choice for pain management clinics.
How do we know that Opana and Exalgo are the new drugs of choice for pain management clinics?
More and more stories are popping up across the country about people abusing Opana and Exalgo and how it is racing past the numbers of people who use Oxycontin and pain management clinics are the supplier. Pain management clinics pretty much are the distributor of such medications to people who don’t really need them. If you take a look at the clients who are in detox for opiates; more and more of them are admitting to Opana use whereas before it would have been OxyContin or Roxicodone.
According to an article by David Matthau from New Jersey 101.5 Steven Liga, the Executive Director of the Middlesex County Chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence says Opana “is similar to OxyContin – except it’s twice as strong.”
He says for years addicts had been crushing OxyContin – and then snorting or injecting it to get high.
“Once OxyContin changed its formula so that you could not crush it – then get the full effect all at once, people started switching to Opana.”
If you or someone you love is in need of treatment for addiction to prescription drugs, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
People who are in chronic pain will most often take very strong narcotic painkillers to help them get through their daily lives. Many people, who take these drugs for chronic pain, do so responsibly without developing symptoms of addiction. While these people who take their drugs for chronic pain may become physically dependent on their painkillers they are not addicted. Then there are those who are taking their medication for their chronic pain and slowly find themselves with a serious addiction problem that is ruining their lives.
Addiction is a physical and psychological condition. People who have an addiction with their narcotic painkillers are compelled to use those substance; most often not as prescribed. They might continue using painkillers even if they know they are bad for them; their use is compulsive on a physical and psychological level. People who exhibit the signs of taking painkillers for chronic pain have developed an addiction and probably should seek drug treatment. And luckily there is drug treatment for people with chronic pain.
For someone who is chronic pain going to drug treatment can be scary. This is because they are dealing with some real pain and drug treatment is going to ask them to give up their pain medication. The truth is while a chronic pain patient may be dealing with pain; the use of the prescription painkillers hasn’t been for their pain in a long time, it has been to get high or feel the euphoric effects that painkillers give and that alone.
Drug treatment for people with chronic pain: Medications
So what drug treatment for people with chronic pain will do is, instead of asking people with chronic pain to stop taking pain medications at all; the doctor may just change the medications. Sometimes a different medication that has a lower risk of causing addiction or abuse issues can be just as effective in handling chronic pain.
Drug treatment for people for chronic pain will try to use medications that don’t cause that initial “rush” that the other drugs do and provide relief for a longer period of time so there doesn’t have to be a repeated use of the medication.
Drug treatment for people with chronic pain: Counseling Sessions
At a drug treatment for people with chronic pain change the medications will help with the chronic pain but it will not take care of the addiction issue. People with an addiction have a psychological attachment to the drugs they take and that attachment may not decrease even if they stop taking the medication. So what drug treatment for people with chronic pain offers is counseling. The most common type of counseling or therapy is known as cognitive behavioral therapy. It is extremely beneficial in drug treatment in general but also in drug treatment for people with chronic pain. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can help people with chronic pain by:
- Reducing the pain
- Reducing pain related behavior
- Improve daily functioning
- Reduce stress and distress
Drug treatment for people with chronic pain: Alternative Therapies
Some drug treatments for people with chronic pain offer alternative therapies such as exercise, yoga, acupuncture, or massage therapy. Yoga has demonstrated as being especially beneficial for those people with chronic pain. Drug treatment for people with chronic pain will more often than not offer alternative therapies such as these. Because the whole point of drug treatment for people with chronic pain is to help them be their healthiest self so they don’t need the narcotic painkillers. Alternative therapies at drug treatments for people with chronic pain also allow the individual to focus on something other than their addiction to their medication.
It is well recognized throughout the drug treatment world that many people end up with addictions due to the prescription drugs that are supposed to be “helping” them with their pain. Often times it can be scary for a chronic pain patient to realize how far into a painkiller addiction they have gone. That is why most drug treatment centers offer a specific approach for people with chronic pain.
If you or someone you love is in need of treatment for chronic pain and addiction, please give us a call at 800-951-6135