Heath Ledger was found dead on the afternoon of January 22, 2009, in his Manhattan apartment, and the media vultures are swooping overhead over another fallen Hollywood figure. The coroners report states that the actor died of acute intoxication by the combined effects of six prescription medications, and has been ruled an accidental overdose. Specifically, the drug overdose included Oxycodone, Vicodin, Diazepam, Xanax, and Temazepam. These medications are all legal and safe to use as prescribed, however the combination of all these drugs creates a lethal cocktail, and death is a likely result. In this case, several of the above drugs are central nervous system depressants, in which case the drug-to-drug interaction can have added effects and cause a serious problem, such as suppressing messages from the brain to continue breathing.
Ledger’s abuse of drugs and alcohol has been well documented, especially over the past 3 years. Family and friends had been urging Ledger to seek Drug and Alcohol Treatment to help with his abuse and addiction of these substances. The truth is that a person cannot be forced into recovery, it has to be sought by the individual. Regardless for how much friends and family want a person to stay sober, they will never really stay sober unless they truly want the help. In March of 2006, Ledger agreed to enter a Drug Treatment Program in California, but later withdrew his offer and instead pledged to his girlfriend to clean up. As we now know, he never held this pledge.
Ledger has become one of the all too common Hollywood tragedies we hear about. The young talented actor who had the entire world in his hand, but could not overcome addiction to truly fulfill his potential. The stresses associated with being a young star in Hollywood is a thing few can truly understand, however the abundance of Drug and Alcohol Abuse in the celebrity circle is rampant to say the least.
The answer is to allow celebrities such as Ledger to have access to Drug and Alcohol Therapy without the media and career onslaught that usually follows. As time goes on, the acceptance of the disease of addiction has become more common and socially acceptable in our society, so hopefully one day people will not be afraid of the consequences of admitting their addiction problem, and ending the cycle of tragic young movie star deaths.