Using Meth and Fentanyl Together: Know the Risks of Mixing Uppers and Downers
By: Design for Change Recovery
As if addictive drugs aren’t dangerous enough, many people find ways to increase the risks of the deadly substances. The worst idea they’ve come up with is mixing uppers and downers. Due to their unique effects, each drug can counteract the effects of the others, making it dangerous to mix two or more.
In an attempt to achieve the perfect high, a person who uses drugs such as meth and fentanyl together is at increased risk of fatal overdose. To avoid dangerous drug combinations, you should familiarize yourself with their risks before experimenting.
The most common drug cocktail involves taking both an upper and a downer simultaneously. People often mix meth and benzos, alcohol and cocaine, stimulants and opioids, cocaine and heroin, or ecstasy and alcohol. They establish a pattern of using stimulants and depressants which can confuse the brain and body and double the risk of overdose.
Among the most popular drug cocktails is meth and fentanyl. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why this combination is deadly.
What Are Upper Drugs?
An upper is any drug that stimulates the central nervous system (CNS). They are popular because of the effects they provide such as energy, weight loss, improved focus, and motivation. This class of drugs stimulates the brain to flood the body with dopamine which can cause intense euphoria.
When an upper drug wears off, the person will experience:
Examples of upper drugs are:
What Is a Downer Drug?
A downer drug is a CNS depressant. It works by slowing down activity in the brain and body. The drugs increase the production of a neurotransmitter known as GABA. This chemical reduces the activity of excitatory neurons. As a result, people who use downers will be relaxed, sleepy, at ease, and have diminished inhibitions.
Examples of downer drugs include:
- Opioids (including fentanyl)
- sleep medications
- Muscle relaxers
Risks of Mixing Meth and Fentanyl
Individually, meth or fentanyl are addictive and dangerous drugs. But, using meth and fentanyl together (speedballing) is deadly. The person’s body cannot efficiently manage the swing from being heavily sedated to highly stimulated in a short time frame. Since meth is an upper (stimulant), and fentanyl is a downer (depressant), the oppositional effects confuse and overwhelm the central nervous system.
The side effects of mixing meth and fentanyl can include, but are not limited to:
- Loss of motor control
- Vision loss
- Psychotic break
- Brain damage
- Brain aneurysm
- High or low blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Fatal overdose
The warning signs of a meth and fentanyl overdose include erratic heart rate, difficulty breathing, and unusual neurological responses. Unfortunately, Naloxone will not reverse the effects of meth, but extra doses of naloxone can reverse the effects of fentanyl in some cases.
According to experts at the NC Harm Reduction Coalition:
“Naloxone (also known as Narcan®) is a prescription medicine that reverses an opioid overdose, which can be caused by prescription analgesics (e.g., Percocet, OxyContin) and heroin. Naloxone will only reverse an opioid overdose, it does not prevent deaths caused by other drugs such as benzodiazepines (e.g.Xanax®, Klonopin® and Valium®), bath salts, cocaine, methamphetamine or alcohol.”
What Does Research Say About Mixing Meth and Fentanyl?
In most fatal overdoses today, fentanyl is involved. In fact, researchers agree that when someone mixes fentanyl with any drug, it is the fentanyl that is responsible for their death.
In a report issued by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, methamphetamine and fentanyl are the primary contributors to fatal overdoses in the U.S. In 2020, according to the DEA New York Division:
“When drug traffickers introduced fentanyl to the illicit drug market, they created a monster,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan. “Fentanyl has been a public health nuisance for several years and has taken too many lives too often. We have seen fentanyl mixed with heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and even marijuana; and it is estimated that 60%+ of all drug overdose deaths in New York City involve fentanyl. Like methamphetamine, fentanyl is produced in ‘Super Labs’ by Mexican trafficking organizations, packaged, and pushed through the border for distribution across the nation.”
Unfortunately, the meth and fentanyl epidemic is not restricted to New York City. Across the country, meth and fentanyl overdoses are becoming more common.
Finding an Effective Meth and Fentanyl Treatment Program
The most effective addiction treatment programs are those that can address polysubstance addictions. Meth and fentanyl addictions should be treated simultaneously for the best outcome.
Design for Change Recovery is pleased to provide a multifaceted approach to treatment. Our program can be customized to address each client’s unique situation, regardless of the substances involved.
Contact our Lancaster, CA facility to learn more about our fully-accredited addiction treatment programs. One of our representatives will conduct a confidential assessment and recommend a plan for your specific needs.
- substanceabusepolicy.biomedcentral.com/ – Higher Doses of Naloxone Are Needed in the Synthetic Opioid Era
- nchrc.org/ – Naloxone 101
- dea.gov/ – DEA Warns of Methamphetamine and Fentanyl Drug Market Built by Aftermath of COVID-19 in New York