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Drugs, Doctors and Death: Heath Ledger Becomes Another Victim
Date:2/22/2008

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla., Feb. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Throughout the past decade, Florida Detox(TM) has successfully treated over 5,000 addicted patients. Interestingly, Florida Detox(TM) has seen an exorbitant increase in the ratio of patients using prescription medications, compared to patients using illicit street drugs. Ten years ago, 50% of our patients were addicted to prescription pain medications. In 2007, 95% of our patients were treated for prescription medication addiction. The recent surge of deaths derived from doctor prescribed medication has far surpassed the overdose prevalence related to illicit street drugs. This alarming trend has recently come to light secondary to the tragic death of Hollywood celebrity Heath Ledger.

This Hollywood actor allegedly overdosed from a combination of physician prescribed opiate pain medication, such as Oxycontin(R), Vicodin(R), or Percocet(R) and a benzodiazepine (Xanax(R), Klonopin(R), Valium(R)) class of anti-anxiety medication. The combination of these two classes of medication can produce a synergistic effect causing respiratory depression and overdose death.

Ironically, the majority of adult patients treated for addiction at Florida Detox(TM) have been prescribed both classes of drugs by their doctor. Many of these patients state that their "pain doctor" simply asks them what opiate or benzo they want, spending less than five minutes with them, during their visit. These patients become dysfunctional at work and home secondary to decreased cognitive ability. Many experience short-term memory problems and frequently forget how much medication they have taken. This phenomenon can precipitate accidental overdose, as in the case of Heath Ledger. Unfortunately, many physicians fail to closely monitor the patient's declining mental function.

Our clinical research demonstrates that patients who "feel more normal" on the combination of these sedating medications typically suffer from an underlying anx
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SOURCE Florida Detox
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