Mixing Amphetamines And Opiates
What is an Opiate?
An opiate drug is derived from the opium poppy. These include the illicit drug heroin, opium, and the prescription medications codeine and morphine. An opioid is a term used to describe drugs that create an opiate effect, but may also be used to refer to both. The opioid classification contains the following prescription painkillers:
- Fentanyl (Duragesic)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- Meperidine (Demerol)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin)
- Oxymorphone (Opana)
While opioids can produce a sedated and relaxed state, they are most known for their ability to produce an analgesic (pain-relieving) effect. They also make a euphoric state. Both of these characteristics draw people into the world of drug abuse. But another attribute common to these drugs is that they can be deadly.
Opioid drugs depress your CNS and produce respiratory depression. This means your breathing rate begins to slow or even becomes irregular. When abused, this impact is more heavily felt in a way that can lead to overdose, coma, and death.
Drug abusers administer opioids multiple ways, depending on the drug of abuse. Heroin may be injected, snorted, or smoked. Certain prescription opioids may have their form altered and be used in these ways. Or an individual may swallow or chew large amounts of painkillers in the hopes they’ll produce an intensely pleasurable state.
What Are Amphetamines?
The Center for Substance Abuse Research writes that “Amphetamines are a group of synthetic psychoactive drugs called central nervous system (CNS) stimulants.” Amphetamines contain the following drug types:
An illicit form of methamphetamine referred to as crystal meth or crank produces hallmark CNS stimulation, similar to prescription amphetamine medications. Prescription amphetamines are used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, binge eating disorder, and in rare cases, depression. Examples of commonly abused medications with an amphetamine effect include:
Prescription stimulants have a high rate of diversion and misuse, due to their extreme potential for abuse. These medications may be taken orally, crushed and snorted, injected, or smoked. Breathing irregularities, cardiac arrhythmia, convulsions, coma, and death might accompany an overdose of these drugs.
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Why Would People Use These Drugs Together?
Recreational drug abusers use drugs for a variety of reasons. When a person is addicted they’re no longer thinking about the toll the drug takes on their body and brain, but only of their next high. According to the journal Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, here’s the three most common reasons why a person might mix an opioid and stimulant:
- To produce a greater than additive effect versus when either drug is taken alone.
- To reduce the side effects of one (reducing the agitation from the amphetamine or the sedation from the opiate).
- Because the combination produces unique subjective effects desired by the user.
Regardless of what your mission is, once you take these drugs you’re no longer in control. What follows can be uncomfortable in the least and deadly in the most severe of instances.
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Can you mix amphetamines and opiates? When you combine an opioid, whether it be heroin or a prescription painkiller, with amphetamine, the results can be very unpredictable and dangerous. You’re also facing an increased risk for serious addiction.
As each drug creates opposite effects, one may mask the side effects of the other when both are taken together. This can lead an individual to take more of one or both drugs. Even if you don’t feel the effects as acutely, your body is still struggling under the weight of the drugs. This doesn’t just mask the high or rush, it can actually cover up certain side effects of overdose as well.
When you take any combination of amphetamines and opiates together your body, brain, and organs are pulled in opposing directions. As the brain tries to decipher these clashing messages, the user may suffer severe cognitive impairment. This could cause them to endanger themselves or others around them. Your body may become severely dehydrated or malnourished, which limits the functioning of every organ in your body.
This dangerous cocktail of drugs can also cause damage to your heart, leading to cardiac arrest, heart attack, or heart failure. Beyond these risks, you could have a stroke or struggle to breathe. Critical life support functions may begin shutting down, leading to:
If you’re tempted to speedball, please consider these risks before you inject. Any form of drug abuse or addiction is a serious matter. But if you’re addicted to one drug and abusing another on the side, or if you’re addicted to both, you’re in dire need of life-saving care.
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Can you mix amphetamines and opiates? What Happens When You Mix Opioids And Amphetamines?
In many circles, the combination of an opiate drug and a central nervous system stimulant is referred to as a setup or even a drug speedball, though this term most often applies to combinations of cocaine and heroin or cocaine and morphine. Combining stimulants and depressants can lead to serious risks.
- If either of the drugs is being used for medical reasons, combining central nervous system stimulants and central nervous system depressants reduces the effectiveness of the medicinal purposes of one or both drugs.
- This combination leads to an increased risk for overdose. The effects of the stimulant medication counteract the effects of the opiate medication. Individuals may believe they have a much higher tolerance for the opiate drug than they actually have, and they may take excessive amounts of the opiate. Stimulant drugs are typically metabolized quickly in comparison to central nervous system depressant drugs like opiates, and a person using both of these drugs may wind up with dangerous levels of the opiate drug in their system. This can lead to toxic effects or an overdose, which can be fatal.
- The opposite situation is also possible, where the individual ingests more stimulant medication that they can tolerate due to the countering of the stimulant effects by the opiate drug. This can lead to the potential for overdose or toxic effects associated with the stimulant drug. Amphetamine overdose can also be fatal; however, the more common complication is overdosing on the opiate drug.
- Combining drugs that have opposite mechanisms of action and opposite effects can lead to an increased potential for side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, or allergic reactions.
- Combining opiates and amphetamines can lead to an increased risk for heart attack or stroke.
- Mixing these substances leads to an increased burden on the liver. Over time, this can lead to serious liver damage.
- Individuals who combine these drugs orally run the risk of developing issues with the gastrointestinal system, such as ulcers or abscesses.
- The effects of these drugs lead to significant alterations in cognitive capacities. This contributes to an increased potential for accidents due to poor judgment or engaging in risky behaviors that an individual would not normally attempt.
- There is an increased risk for an individual to experience seizures when amphetamines are combined with opiates. Seizures can be potentially fatal.
- There is increased risk for an individual to experience psychosis, which consists of having hallucinations and/or delusions. Psychotic individuals are a danger to themselves and others.
- Other psychiatric effects can occur as a result of this combination, including mania, depression, anxiety, extreme mood swings, and even potential suicidality.
- Chronic use of opiates and amphetamines in combination can lead to the development of significant tolerance to one or both of these drugs. This can result in the person needing more of one or both drugs to get the same effects that they previously experienced at lower amounts. Developing tolerance to drugs increases overdose risk.
- The development of tolerance is often followed by the development of withdrawal symptoms. Once an individual has developed both tolerance and withdrawal, they have developed physical dependence on a drug.
- Individuals who regularly engage in polysubstance abuse are more likely to develop substance use disorders, a form of a mental illness that will eventually require professional intervention.
- Individuals with substance use disorders are far more likely to be diagnosed with another mental disorder, including trauma- and stressor-related disorders, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, personality disorders, etc.
- Having a chronic substance use disorder is associated with poorer physical health, lower rates of employment, and higher rates of mortality compared to individuals without substance use disorders.
An inpatient drug rehab center is best equipped to handle polydrug abuse. Many facilities have a medical detox on site. This is a great benefit for those who are addicted to opioids, which often require this medical intervention. Inpatient treatment protects you from outside temptations and gives you constant access to highly-trained addiction specialists. Once on site, you’ll be immersed in transformative behavioral therapies, counseling sessions, and other diverse modalities which will help you to overcome the addictive mindset.
Reclaim Your Life With Co-ocurring Disorders Treatment
In Recent Years, Researchers have Found that Integrated therapy is the best method for treating people with co-occurring disorders. Research gathered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicates that combining psychiatric and addiction treatment techniques can decrease relapses and reduce suicide attempts in rehab graduates, as well as promote long-term abstinence.
Several Factors Make it Crucial to Treat Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders and Addictive Disorders Together:
- An Integrated Recovery Plan aims to reduce the negative side effects of mental health disorders, including problems paying attention, feeling depressed, and disinclination to socialize with others.
- You are more likely to be able to treat your substance abuse disorder and mental health dysfunction at the same time when pharmacological therapy addresses both disorders.
- Traditional concerns about psychotherapeutic medication use in co-occurring disorders are no longer a problem.
- Co-occurring disorders patients who undergo group therapy help them strengthen their support network. This training is also useful for combating problems such as substance misuse.
- Treating both addiction and mental disorders simultaneously reduces one’s chances of relapse, such as depression, mood swings, or panic strikes.
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 America’s addiction to opioids: Heroin and prescription drug abuse.
 ‘Opioid addiction’ – U.S. National Library of Medicine (medlineplus.gov)
 Shoptaw, S. J., Kao, U., Heinzerling, K., & Ling, W. (2009). Treatment for amphetamine withdrawal. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 2009(2), CD003021. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003021.pub2