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Heath Ledger

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 Dark Knight"


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 narcotics.

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 same mistake.

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