'Speedball' craze gathers pace

A drug craze which sees users inject a mixture of heroin and cocaine is spiralling out of control, a charity has warned. The trend, know as 'speedballing', is being fuelled by plummeting street prices. More dealers are selling heroin in £10 bags rather than by the gram, and some parts of the country continue to report dealers offering 'discount offers' on combined bags of heroin and crack cocaine. The sheer scale of the speedballing trend in south London has led to the combined substances being treated as a drug in its own right. It also raised the prospect of even more burglaries, robberies and other thefts being committed by addicts to fund their costly habits. The DrugScope charity's annual survey of drug habits in 20 towns and cities across the UK found that growing numbers of addicts are using the potentially deadly cocktail for its stimulant-sedative effect. And a previously unpublished survey of 100 drug addicts by Dr Russell Newcombe at Manchester drugs charity Lifeline found that speedballers had three times as many convictions as those only using heroin. It said speedballers spent £500 a week on the drugs - a staggering £26,000 a year - compared to £110 for heroin-only addicts. Dr Newcombe's research, published by DrugScope, also revealed that speedballing was the main method of drug-taking for 80 per cent of those interviewed, compared with 25 per cent a decade ago. The trend could also increase overdoses and viral infections among addicts, DrugScope added. US comedian and Blues Brothers star John Belushi died aged 33 from a speedball overdose in March 1982, at the Chateau Marmont hotel on Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.

ITN | September 13, 2006Watch more videos from ITN

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