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Heath Ledger: Drugs Equal Death

Allan N. Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Feb 8th 2008

Another celebrity, the young actor, Heath Ledger, was found dead in his room due to a combination of drugs most of which appear to have been prescribed. Among the drugs found in his body by the medical examiner were Oxycontin, Vicodin, Valium, Xanax, and Restoril. Evidence was also found of an over the counter sleeping aid called doxylamine. According to the New York Times several psychiatrists stated that this was clear evidence of a young man who was addicted to drugs. In fact, there is speculation that Mr. Ledger went to several Medical Doctors in search of prescriptions for these drugs.

When Hollywood celebrities such as Anna Nicole Smith and Keith Ledger die of drug overdoses it briefly catches the publics' attention. There is a tendency for people to believe that these types of deaths are just more examples of the excesses committed by famous actors and actresses. In reality death as a result of drug abuse and over dose is a problem that is occurring nationwide. Even children are vulnerable because they have easy access to the medicine cabinets of their parents. Those cabinets are often filled with no longer used drugs that are simply being stored rather than tossed out.

Prescription drug abuse and addiction are now common problems. Those who become addicted quickly learn how to go from doctor to doctor to obtain prescriptions. They are known how to visit the offices of many dentists and how to evade those pharmacies that might have their prescription histories stored in their computers.

Mr. Ledger's tragic death should serve as a cautionary message to everyone these substances are all too available and that they are extremely dangerous. Parents should be vigilant about tossing out prescription medications that are no longer used. Everyone should be extremely careful about the use of over the counter medications. The fact that medications are sold over the counter does not mean that they are safe. Everyone should be extremely careful about the combination of medications they are using. Always consult with your physician about any medication you are taking.

Drugs are not benign.

Your comments are welcome.

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Wrong name - - Apr 7th 2008

Its Heath not Keith.

Childhood - bettye - Mar 22nd 2008
What leads up to the "passive suicide" those such as Heath and Anna fall prey to? that is the question no one has given any press. Why is that? Why do these folks gravitate toward drugs in the first place. They are NOT a rite of passage. They are a symptom of a childhood gone askew which snuffed out the adult. One cant escape one's dysfunctional roots. SOmetimes it is deadly. i would like to see a gravitation toward prevention at least start where it needs to. And that is with the parents who raise these poor souls.

Caution! Doctor's are also to blame. - D Overs - Feb 16th 2008
When doctors are confronted with a patient that has severe pain their instincits are to bring the fastest releif possible to thier patients. They do not consider long term problems that might result. I am married to a wonderful man that lives in severe pain every day due to failed back surgery. When the drugs over took his personality and destroyed our communication I walked out. After counseling we slowly reunited. We were involed in an auto accident the day before Thanksgiving 2008. Jim suffered a neck injury and concusion. When the physican at St John's Mercy Medical Center handed Jim a prescibiton he quickly explained his battle with drug abuse and he could not take any narcotics. The doctor insisted that he would be in pain for the next couple of days and he would highly recommend filling the prescibtion and handed him the prescribtion,

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