CHEVY CHASE, Md., Feb. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This week the
Office of the New York City medical examiner issued a statement that "Mr.
Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined
effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and
doxylamine ...We have concluded that the manner of death is an accident,
resulting from the abuse of prescription medications." This tragic death of
a talented and well-known performing artist offers opportunities for
learning by the general public, and by physicians themselves.
Data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, conducted
annually by the University of Michigan for the federal Substance Abuse and
Mental Health Services Administration, show that the unauthorized use of
prescription pain killers and tranquilizers has been rising at epidemic
proportions, especially among adolescents and young adults. Addiction to
opioid analgesics has been the fastest rising category of addictive
diseases presenting for chemical dependency treatment for almost a decade.
Addiction is a serious public health problem, sparing no gender, ethnic
group, or socioeconomic level of our society. It is also treatable.
The mixture of alcoholic beverages or opioid analgesics such as
oxycodone or hydrocodone, with sedative hypnotics such as diazepam,
temazepam, alprazolam, is well known to physicians as a potentially fatal
mixture when excessive doses are taken, either under a physician's
prescription, or with medications obtained from friends, family, or illegal
sources. The general public needs to appreciate these dangers, and
physicians can help educate their patients about such risks. Persons who
seek intoxication via prescription drugs can accidentally put themselves
into a lethal situation. Substance abuse and dependence are serious
illnesses. Persons concerned about their misuse of prescription drugs, or a
family member's possible addiction, should discuss their concerns with
their personal physician.
ASAM reminds physicians that no potentially addictive substance should
be prescribed without obtaining a full history, including a substance use
history; without clear objectives for prescribing such substances; and
without clear end-points in mind for their treatment plans. ASAM encourages
physician consultations for expert guidance in these patient care matters.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine is a national medical
specialty society of almost 3,000 member physicians, the largest such
medical association in the nation. Its mission is to improve the quality of
and access to prevention, treatment, education, research and public
policies addressing addiction.
CONTACT: Eileen McGrath of the American Society of Addiction Medicine,
+1-301-656-3920 (ext. 105), firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE American Society of Addiction Medicine