Powerballing, chasing the dragon, cocoa puffs; sounds like fun, doesn’t it? The names given to many mixed substance cocktails can often sound like a joyous theme park ride, but instead are terms invented to hide the fact that mixing lethal drugs or mixing drugs with alcohol is a really bad idea.
Take “powerballing” or “speedballing” for example, which is a mix of opiates and cocaine. While opiates cause the body to use more oxygen, cocaine causes your breathing to slow down. The effect of the two combined is that you could stop breathing altogether. Mixing these two substances could cause a stroke because of the sudden changes in blood pressure, or you could trigger cardiac arrest due to sudden changes in both heartbeat frequency and blood pressure. Get the picture?
The Logic Doesn’t Work
A few attempts have been made at attaching some sort of logic behind mixing various substances. One is born from the desire to enhance the drug reaction, while another is an attempt at mitigating the nastier side effects of one or the other substance.
The first theory is extremely dangerous while the second is a complete fallacy – replacing, or more accurately adding to, one set of side effects with a second, possibly more unpleasant, set is not wise, no less making the substance use even more dangerous.
Mixing drugs with alcohol or creating drug cocktails is known officially as polysubstance or polydrug use. As the body becomes accustomed to use of the initial drug, the amount needed to get the same effect increases. Some people adjust to this by increasing the doses or increasing their frequency, while others add additional substances to the mix.
The root of the polydrug problem is triangular. The drugs interact with each other and the body interacts with each drug. The influences of all three reactions could be unpredictable and could be very different on each occasion taken. The effect that the user got the last time they used might not even resemble the effect they get the next time, even if they believe the drug mixture was the same.
Increased Risk of Addiction
Drugs and alcohol are both addictive and combining the two increases the risk of addiction to both substances simultaneously. Having multiple addictions will also complicate the treatment required to affect a proper withdrawal for each substance and increases the risk of complications through the withdrawal process.
Increased Risk of Overdose
All substances have a different life or length of time over which they are effective. With powerballing, the effects of cocaine wear off much faster than the opiates, which might tempt the user to take too high a dose in order to prolong the effects. Accidental overdose is one of the leading killers associated with polysubstance abuse.