Heath Ledger's Dad Says What Everyone Should Know About Drug-Related Deaths

Jul 27 2016

Heath Ledger’s Dad Says What Everyone Should Know About Drug-Related Deaths

July 27th, 2016

The father of Heath Ledger—the Australian movie star who died from what was generally described as a drug “overdose” at age 28—has a simple-but-vital message: Be careful about mixing.

Kim Ledger told Australia News that the night before his son’s death, Heath’s sister had warned him about the risks of combining different drugs. “You can’t mix drugs that you don’t know anything about,” she apparently told her brother.

When Ledger died, he had multiple drugs in his system, including oxycodone and hydrocodone (both opioids) and diazepam (a benzodiazepine).

“It just put his whole system to sleep, I guess,” his father says.

Ledger Sr.’s message underscores an important point. Often, mainstream media panic about the so-called opioid epidemic obscures the fact that most deaths occur when people take the wrong combination of drugs.

As leading drug scientist and Influence contributor Dr. Carl Hart pointed out to The New York Times:

While it is possible to die from an overdose of an opioid alone, this is rare. Only about a quarter of the thousands of opioid-related deaths each year occur as a result of a single drug. Combining an opioid with another sedative such as alcohol or a benzodiazepine causes many of these deaths. Public service announcement campaigns are needed with a clear message: Don’t combine opioids with other sedatives!

Let’s get behind that message.

  • The fact is, most overdoses are intentional. If you don’t believe it just go down to your local AA/NA meeting and listen for yourself. (Don’t shoot the messenger!) Therefore public service announcements explaining how to kill yourself may only exacerbate the current suicide epidemic. What’s the solution? Public service announcements explaining that overdoses are usually intentional. Make people take responsibility for their decisions.

    • Dei

      Are you kidding? Omg I hope you are.
      Being a recovering Addict myself & avid in AA… THE MESSAGE IS NOT INTENTIONAL SUICIDE BY THE MASSES. Quite the opposite in fact. People that overdose, die. That is a fact. However, most Addicts are not trying to kill themselves. It is not a matter of responsibility for this issue of subject. Spreading that message, overdose is just intentional suicide gives no hope that a person can overcome their demons, which is taking away from such accountability in a long journey of continuous sobriety. Your comment is inexperienced & unnecessary.

      • I’ve been to hundreds of meetings and 99% of the time they admit in their drunkalogs that their overdose on multiple drugs/alcohol was completely intentional. It was never ‘an accident’. I am not kidding. Don’t kill the messenger. I hope you are kidding about ‘demons’.

        • Melanie Bell

          I’ve been an alcoholic for 27 years, trying to get sober for 15. 6 rehabs, AA, sober houses, the works. And also 4 suicide attempts because I’m dual diagnosis, abuse survivor, and was desperate to quit drinking but could not. So don’t tell ME that all suicides are intentional when there is brain chemistry, trauma, and other factors involved. Suicide is not an easy way out. It feels like the ONLY way out. The main thing I have done in the last 15 years is I keep trying to get / stay sober. Knocked down down 7 times, get up 8. Starting dual diagnosis outpatient again next week. I no longer want to die. I have suffered enough. I want my life back.

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