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ASAM Calls for Care in the Use of, and the Prescribing of, Potentially Addictive Substances
Date:2/7/2008

CHEVY CHASE, Md., Feb. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This week the Office of the New York City medical examiner issued a statement that "Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine ...We have concluded that the manner of death is an accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications." This tragic death of a talented and well-known performing artist offers opportunities for learning by the general public, and by physicians themselves.

Data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, conducted annually by the University of Michigan for the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, show that the unauthorized use of prescription pain killers and tranquilizers has been rising at epidemic proportions, especially among adolescents and young adults. Addiction to opioid analgesics has been the fastest rising category of addictive diseases presenting for chemical dependency treatment for almost a decade. Addiction is a serious public health problem, sparing no gender, ethnic group, or socioeconomic level of our society. It is also treatable.

The mixture of alcoholic beverages or opioid analgesics such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, with sedative hypnotics such as diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, is well known to physicians as a potentially fatal mixture when excessive doses are taken, either under a physician's prescription, or with medications obtained from friends, family, or illegal sources. The general public needs to appreciate these dangers, and physicians can help educate their patients about such risks. Persons who seek intoxication via prescription drugs can accidentally put themselves into a lethal situation. Substance abuse and dependence are serious illnesses. Persons concerned about their misuse of prescription drugs, or a family member's possible addiction, should discuss their concerns wi
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SOURCE American Society of Addiction Medicine
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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