Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Heath Ledger took pills as addictive as heroin

Heath LedgerTragic Heath Ledger's deadly cocktail of drugs included pills that are as addictive as heroin.

Official toxicology results confirmed the star died from "abuse" of pills - although his father immediately insisted it was an "accidental death" from combining pills "even at low dosage".

However, the list of pills paint an alarming picture of the actor's last days, including some that are highly addictive.

Most notoriously, he had taken Diazepam, which is better known as Valium - a widely abused drug that is highly addictive.

But even more worryingly, he had also taken oxycodone and hydrocodone - both highly-addictive pain killers that are similar to morphine.

And both drugs are often used as "substitutes" for junkies trying to kick harder drugs like heroin.

According to an online help page for addicts: "Oxycodone has almost similar effects to morphine, and thus appeals to the same community who abuse morphine and heroin.

"Reports of pharmacies being broken in for oxycodone are not uncommon."

The site continues: "Oxycodone is a strong pain killer drug with a high potential to cause physical and psychological dependence.

"The drug has euphoric effects, lessens anxiety and gives the user a pleasant experience.

"This plus the relatively easy availability of the drug has made it liable to abuse.

"Persons who try and obtain repeat oxycodone prescriptions and possess it for purpose of trafficking are guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment."

Chillingly, it also warns: "Acute overdose of Oxycodone can produce life threatening respiratory depression, skeletal muscle flaccidity, low blood pressure and heart rate, coma, respiratory arrest, and death."

Another addiction help website gives similar warnings over Hydrocodone.

It states: "Hydrocodone addiction is a growing crisis in the United States. "While illegal drugs like cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and heroin remain in the headlines many may be surprised to know that hydrocodone addiction could lurk right behind them as one of the most widely-abused drugs of addiction.
"In fact, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration believes hydrocodone may be the most abused prescription drug in the country."
It adds: "Hydrocodone is a narcotic that can produce a calm, euphoric state similar to heroin or morphine - and despite such important and obvious benefits in pain relief, evidence is pointing to chronic addiction.

"Hydrocodone is structurally related to codeine and is approximately equal in strength to morphine in producing opiate-like effects."

Dr. Michael Hunter, a prominent forensic pathologist not involved in the Ledger case, found it "telling" that the report stated death was due to "abuse" of drugs.

"When they use the term abuse it tells us that he used drugs to obtain an intoxicant effect and not for a therapeutic reason," he insisted.

"They must have determined through their investigation that the drugs were not for therapeutic use."

He believes the combination of the powerful drugs most likely caused "poly-drug intoxication" which led to respiratory arrest.

"His breathing probably got slower and slower until it stopped all together," he said.

Hunter also said it is highly unlikely a doctor would have allowed Ledger to take all the different types of drugs in his system. "This is a dangerous mixture of drugs," said Hunter. "We are seeing more and more people dying of poly-drug intoxication from prescription drugs and it usually a combination of the narcotic-type drugs seen here."

By Owen Williams, Feb 06 2008 © Copyright 2008 - Showbiz Spy

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