Mixing Cocaine And Oxycodone: Risks And Effects

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on July 31, 2023

Some people who take cocaine also take oxycodone to ease specific negative effects. Combined, these drugs can cause addiction and dependence, permanent physical damage, and possible overdose death.

Dangers Of Mixing Cocaine And Oxycodone

Cocaine and oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) are often taken together as a “speedball” to ease the negative effects of both drugs.

Oxycodone is an opioid drug that is prescribed to treat chronic to severe pain. Cocaine is an illegal stimulant that provides short-acting bursts of energy and euphoria.

Both cocaine and oxycodone are habit-forming, and tolerance can develop to both drugs. Find out more about mixing opioids and stimulants.

Why Do People Mix Cocaine And Oxycodone?

People usually take cocaine and oxycodone together as a form of “speedballing” (a slang term that originally referred to mixing cocaine and heroin).

The purpose of taking a stimulant like cocaine alongside a depressant like oxycodone is to amplify or stack perceived positive effects and “smooth out” the negative effects.

People use opioids to ease symptoms of anxiety that can happen during and after a cocaine high. Cocaine generally reduces fatigue and sluggishness that people feel during opioid use.

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Effects Of Combining Cocaine And Oxycodone

Because cocaine is illegal and is not processed in certified labs, its quality and purity may fluctuate.

Some cocaine dealers cut or alter the drug with other substances that can include hallucinogens, opioids, or amphetamines.

Effects of combined cocaine and oxycodone use can include a wide array of effects from excessive stimulant ingestion or depressant intake.

Effects Of Cocaine

The effects of cocaine can vary depending on nature of any adulterants that have been added along the way. Assuming the cocaine is pure, the effects are similar to other stimulants.

Some effects of cocaine ingestion include:

  • anxiety
  • agitation
  • restlessness
  • euphoria
  • excitability
  • muscle tremors
  • high blood pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • talkativeness and rambling

Effects Of Oxycodone

Typically, oxycodone’s effects will last longer than a single dose of cocaine. People that use speedballs might binge cocaine to continue feeling the combined effects.

Oxycodone prevents the transmission of pain signals and depresses important life-sustaining systems that regulate heart rate and respiration.

Some effects of oxycodone use include:

  • nausea
  • slowed heart rate
  • low blood pressure
  • respiratory depression
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • constipation

Oxycodone is usually manufactured legally for pharmaceutical purposes. However, there are some illegal entities that manufacture counterfeit oxycodone pills.

These fake pills may contain stronger opioids like fentanyl, which contribute to a large number of opioid deaths in the U.S.

Risks Of Mixing Cocaine With Oxycodone

Using cocaine and oxycodone together has dangerous long-term and short-term effects.

Specific dangers include a high risk of overdose, addiction and dependence, and a long list of serious, potentially deadly health effects.

Physical Effects Of Mixing Cocaine And Oxycodone

Cocaine and oxycodone work in opposing ways on the heart and respiratory system.

This internal “tug-of-war” on the heart, in particular, can cause both immediate damage and lasting complications.

People that take cocaine with oxycodone may have a number of health complications due to continued use.

Some health problems associated with mixing cocaine and OxyContin include:

  • acute coronary syndromes
  • low blood pressure
  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • seizures
  • kidney and liver damage
  • paralysis
  • increased risk of cancers and infections
  • irregular heartbeat
  • increased sensitivity to pain
  • constipation

Mental Effects Of “Speedballing”

Mental health disorders and other psychiatric issues may carry on even after combined cocaine and opioid use has stopped.

Behavioral therapy is often useful for people that have residual mental health concerns due to drug abuse.

Mental health effects of oxycodone and cocaine abuse include:

  • anxiety
  • general irritability
  • memory loss
  • psychosis
  • chronic depression

Risk Of Overdose Death From Polydrug Abuse

Overdoses can happen when a person mixes “uppers” and “downers”. Cocaine is much shorter-acting than opioids.

When people take an excessive amount of oxycodone with cocaine, their body may not be able to adequately process the central nervous system (CNS) depressant.

This could lead to a potentially deadly overdose for people if their dosage is incorrect, if either drug contains additional substances, or if they binge on a certain drug.

Both cocaine and oxycodone cause adverse effects on the heart and alter a person’s consciousness and general awareness. Crushing and snorting oxycodone pills increases the risk of overdose.

Symptoms Of Oxycodone And Cocaine Overdose

In order to understand the symptoms of polysubstance abuse and overdose, you have to look at overdose symptoms of the individual drugs.

Symptoms of an oxycodone overdose include:

  • agitation
  • coma
  • confusion
  • trouble breathing
  • slowed heart rate
  • low blood pressure
  • lethargy
  • cold or clammy skin

Symptoms of a cocaine overdose include:

  • chest pain
  • rapid breathing
  • cardiovascular dysrhythmia, tachycardia, and arrhythmia
  • high blood pressure
  • unawareness of surroundings
  • trouble breathing
  • excessive sweating
  • hyperthermia
  • seizures

A person that is experiencing an opioid overdose can have potentially deadly effects treated through administration of naloxone (Narcan) administration.

A cocaine overdose can be treated through a range of medical interventions including breathing support and intravenous fluids.

Abusing Cocaine And Oxycodone Can Lead To Addiction

Cocaine and oxycodone work on dopamine channels, which act as reward triggers. People that take either drug can associate the euphoria of taking the drugs with the neurochemical release.

While not every person becomes addicted to cocaine or oxycodone because of these pathways, many people become addicted to these substances because of the good “memory” of taking these drugs.

Cocaine And Oxycodone Addiction Can Lead To Dependence

People can become dependent on both cocaine and oxycodone — meaning that they encounter negative physical symptoms when they do not take the drug for a certain period of time.

Withdrawal symptoms can be physical or mental/emotional responses to the absence of the drug in the system.

As people build a tolerance for certain drugs, they must take more of the substance to feel the effects and keep withdrawal symptoms away.

People that have withdrawal symptoms from cocaine and oxycodone use may experience:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • severe drug cravings
  • irritability/aggression
  • depression
  • shaking limbs
  • insomnia
  • diarrhea
  • chills
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • general weakness

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on July 31, 2023
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