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Today’s incredibly dangerous “speedball” of fentanyl and cocaine is the latest and most deadly form of drug cocktails to take too many young lives before their time. The street term “speedball” was coined several decades ago when mixing heroin and cocaine became a new and deadly trend that took many famous celebrities lives. Now the latest trend amongst Generation Z drug users is to mix fentanyl and cocaine together to make what could be cynically called “Speedball – Gen Z.” This latest “speedball”, as well as its earlier incarnation, can be ingested in a variety of ways, including: insufflation (snorting), I.V. injection, or “skin popping”, which is the injection of the substance under the skin (subcutaneous).

Why Are People Trying a New Type of “Speedball” Drug Cocktail?

The twisted logic that underlies the creation of all of these “speedball” drug cocktails is that, by mixing the two substances, the euphoria (high) from both substances can be magnified, while simultaneously minimizing the side-effects. For example, since heroin is a depressant and cocaine is a stimulant, the user believes that the heroin can prevent the anxiety, restlessness and high blood pressure that is caused by cocaine use, while the cocaine can prevent the depressant effect (nodding off, sleepiness) that is created by taking opiates.

illustration showing young people dancing at a club and then someone lying in a hospital bed unconscious and flatlining

The Deadly Consequences

Unfortunately, the euphoric effects combined with the suppression of side-effects can easily delude the speedballer into believing that they are less intoxicated than they are – with either the stimulant or the depressant part of the equation. In this situation, overdoses and other effects such as heart attack and stroke become increasingly likely, as the user ends up ingesting much more of both drugs than they would without mixing them.

illustration of a fast moving speedball with the words fentanyl and cocaine on it heading directly into a tombstone

High Profile Deaths from “Speedballing”

The extensive use of speedballs during the 1970s and 1980s became widely known due to several celebrity deaths, including John Belushi and Chris Farley. These individuals and the many thousands of lesser-known victims of speedballing fell prey to an inherently deadly game of Russian roulette where the odds were decidedly stacked against them. However, even their highly-publicized deaths, did little to lessen the prevalence of speedball usage over the long term. And, unfortunately, the addition of fentanyl to the mix has only made the odds that much less favorable for today’s generation of speedballers.

illustration of a movie theater marquee with a skull and crossbones above the title

The Emergence of Fentanyl on the Scene

It has been widely publicized that oxycodone (oxycontin) and other prescription opioids replaced heroin and methadone in the late 1990s and early 2000s as the most commonly abused opiates. Once the government became aware of this growing epidemic, strict controls were placed on manufacturing, distributing, and prescribing these prescription opiates. At this point, the street value of these drugs of abuse became so high that they have been replaced with fentanyl. Since fentanyl is easy and inexpensive to manufacture in clandestine laboratories, it has now replaced the other prescription opiates as the illegal drug of choice – along with heroin. Since fentanyl is much more potent than heroin and can be transported more easily due to its high potency (less bulk) and is in many cases cheaper than heroin, it is now commonly found mixed with heroin to increase heroin’s street value, potency, and trade.

illustration about how much fentanyl it takes to kill someone showing four grains of salt


Fentanyl and Cocaine: Speedball – Gen Z

With the increasing availability of fentanyl, drug users and dealers have now began mixing fentanyl and cocaine. The desired effects from this Speedball – Gen Z combination are like the sought-after effects from the “old-fashioned” speedballs, and the unintended negative consequences are similar as well – with one important difference. Since fentanyl is between 50 – 100 times more potent than morphine (the active metabolite of heroin), this latest formulation of the speedball is much more lethal than its earlier ancestors. In fact, Speedball – Gen Z might be the most deadly drug cocktail ever willingly ingested on a large scale in history.

Wait? It Actually Gets Worse?

As if it weren’t bad enough already, Speedball – Gen Z’s deadliness gets amped up even more by the fact that a heroin/fentanyl combination may be used in conjunction with the cocaine. The user is now taking three different, illicitly manufactured and highly toxic drugs with widely different metabolic pathways, half-lives, potencies and effects. Since the purity and potency of all illegally manufactured drugs is unknown, this leaves the user playing an even more deadly guessing game of roulette; but, instead of playing for entertainment, the users of Speedball – Gen Z are playing with their lives.

illustration showing a mad scientist in a laboratory mixing the drugs cocaine, heroin, fentanyl

Don’t Let Speedball – Gen Z Make You Its Next Victim!

If you or a loved one is playing Russian roulette with the newest Speedball – Gen Z, there is no time to waste before getting help. Every day you wait makes it more likely that this deadly new drug cocktail might claim you as its next victim. The staff members at Behavioral Wellness and Recovery have the training and expertise to help before it becomes too late. Please call their addiction specialists today to learn more about how they can help. They are available 24/7 at 800-683-4457 to answer your call and start you or your loved one on the road to recovery.