Toxicological tests have shined a bright light on the Heath Ledger
prescription drug addiction that led to his death. For a time
before the forensic results were in, many people thought he died
from the use of recreational drugs.
Heath Ledger as the Joker in Batman "The
The prescription drugs found in Ledger's system include Vicodin
and OxyContin (both painkillers), Unisom (a sleep aid), Restoril,
Valium and Xanax (an anti-anxiety medication). These drugs cannot
all be used at the same time without serious side effects, as
is plainly evident now.
When you are prescribed medications, you should take them all
to the same pharmacy, where the computer will automatically check
for dangerous drug interactions. This is especially true if you
have various specialists working with you, since each may not
know what the others have prescribed.
Forensic pathologists who
were asked about the Ledger case have stated that
the combination of the powerful drugs Ledger was taking most probably
resulted in multi-drug caused intoxication, leading to respiratory
arrest. They do not feel that one doctor would tell Ledger that
it was safe to use all of the various drugs found in his system
at the time of death.
It may have been caused by what some people call "sloppy
prescribing" where one doctor doesn't check the chart to
see what his patient already takes, before prescribing something
else for another ailment. More and more people die from dangerous
prescription drug interactions, and the most dangerous are usually
Accidental Tourist ...
The story of the Heath Ledger prescription drug addiction that
led to his death resulted in the official cause of death being
ruled accidental. The cause of death was also listed as having
been due to "abuse" of the drugs, which usually means
that the drugs were taken to become intoxicated, rather than for
all the symptoms for which they may have originally been prescribed.
The medications that Ledger took were prescribed for anxiety,
insomnia, pain, depression and cold symptoms. His death shines
more light on the fact that many people take prescription drugs
without checking for drug interactions, especially if they are
taken just to get a buzz, and not to work on any specific symptoms.
Mixing and Matching ...
People are under the misinformation that if drugs are legal,
that means they are safe to be taken together. Each drug may be
quite safe when taken alone and when the proper dosage is used.
This changes dramatically when people begin mixing the various
drugs, and sometimes mixing them with alcohol, as well. Alcohol
was not determined to be any part of the interactions that killed
Ledger, but it is often found to be at fault in drug interaction
deaths, especially among young people.
It is especially dangerous to mix several of the prescribed drugs
Ledger was taking together, since they have some of the same effects
on the body. You don't want so much medication in your system
that it slows down your respiratory system and your heart.
Sadly, we hear more and more about deaths like Ledger's, but
at least they may help to dissuade someone else from making the