Heath Ledger overdose shines light on dangers of prescription drug addiction

July 20, 2008

When a young person who is seemingly at the height of their life dies as a result of drug use it is a true tragedy. But when that individual is in the public eye, there is hope that some good can come from an otherwise sad situation.

Heath Ledger’s accidental overdose in January from a mixture of sleeping pills, painkillers and other medications might just be the event that takes prescription drug addiction into the mainstream American consciousness once and for all. On the verge of his biggest star turn, the actor died in New York just before the release of The Dark Knight, where he played the Joker and was being discussed for a potential Oscar nomination.

Several reports have said that accidental overdoses from prescription medication are on the rise in the United States, and can be attributed to several factors:

  • More individuals turning to anti-depressants as a coping mechanism for depression
  • More young people obtaining prescription medications from their parents’ or friends’ medicine cabinets.
  • Increased access to dangerous prescription drugs online, via web-based pharmacies where more often than not, a doctor’s prescription is not even required for purchase.

Unfortunately, many people (especially teenagers and men and women in the 20′s) equate prescription drugs with safety, mistakenly feeling that what they are putting into their bodies are less harmful that heroin, cocaine or other illicit substances.

Hopefully, the combination of better information being delivered through a variety of public service campaigns and the presence of drug rehab programs to help those with the problem get help will lead to fewer and fewer cases like that of Heath Ledger.

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