Thanks, health and public policy journalist Maia Szalavitz, for finally writing some Heath Ledger News We Can Use. Her service-y piece for HuffPo is called "What We Can Learn from Heath Ledger's Death: Don't Mix Downs!!!" In a perfect world, it would run in the crappy health section of every major Sunday paper, instead of "TEARFUL CHILD THANKS DEAD ORGAN DONOR" or whatever. Here's how to avoid dying like Heath Ledger:
Don't take depressants together! Don't mix benzodiazepines with sleeping pills! Or opioids! Or antihistamines! But especially opioids.
About 75% of all overdose deaths involve drug combinations: the most deadly combinations seem to involve opioids plus other depressants. According to the federal Drug Abuse Warning Network, more overdose deaths are caused by opioid mixtures than by any other single drug or combination of drugs.
And there's good news!
Cocaine use is reported in a significant minority of overdose deaths: however, because cocaine counteracts some of the sedating effects of depressants, it may actually reduce overdose risk from opioids.
(Just avoid shooting it.)
And finally, the most important advice of all for current or aspiring celebrity partyboys (and girls): "if you have been addicted, and then quit, the dose you can tolerate after detox is far lower than the dose you could tolerate before."
Stick with one downer at a time, if you must mix use a little coke, and if you must quit, ease yourself back into it. And have a great weekend!