Guinevere Gets Sober

Recovery news, reviews and stories, by Jennifer Matesa.

Tag: Heath Ledger

Lindsay Lohan’s doing Adderall, Ambien, and Dilaudid

So, I never imagined myself to be the kind of writer who documents the lives of celebrities, but this is an interesting case that illustrates a trend happening all over the country.

Lindsay Lohan’s probation report was released today and it says she’s taking five powerful prescription drugs: Adderall (for attention-deficit disorder); Ambien (for insomnia); Zoloft (for depression); Trazodone (for depression and insomnia); and—get this—Dilaudid, prescribed after she had her wisdom teeth out in early June.

Dilaudid is a Schedule II opioid painkiller that’s roughly four times more powerful than morphine. In other words, it’s some heavy shit, and dentists and oral surgeons don’t usually prescribe heavy shit for that kind of pain. Where I come from, they usually write for a few Tylenol #3 or Vicodin with no refills and tell you to give your gums the good old saltwater rinse. Prescribing Dilaudid for post-wisdom-tooth extraction pain is like sending in the A-bomb for the proverbial anthill.

Asking for Dilaudid for that kind of thing?

If you’re Lindsay Lohan, you can probably get what you want. You can be persuasive one way or another.

More and more people are taking drugs they’re getting from a variety of doctors, and mixing them with each other, and with alcohol. The belief is rampant that because a drug is prescribed by a doctor—because it is a prescription drug—it’s not dangerous.

The belief is that the Real Dangerous Drugs are the ones that Homeless Junkies shoot under the bridge.

Actually?—the Real Dangerous Drugs are the ones in your medicine cabinet. They’re pure and they’re quality-controlled to do their jobs.

One job of morphine, by the way, is to treat “dyspnea,” or the labored breathing that people experience when they’re dying. The “death rattle.” Because morphine—all opioids, actually—slow down your breathing.

And you take too much of any opioid, and/or mix it with other stuff like Ambien, Valium, or alcohol, and your breathing can stop (this is what, for example, Heath Ledger did).

The strength and reliability of these drugs is one reason prescription drug abuse is the most rapidly growing drug problem in this country. According to a statement by the International Narcotics Control Board earlier this year, 6.2 million Americans are abusing prescription drugs. Many of these people are doing things like taking painkillers such as Dilaudid for toothache, mixing them with Adderall (speed) and Ambien (major downer) and knocking those back with a cocktail at, say, the MTV Music Awards.

You mix too many chemicals like this and yes—you will wind up depressed and anxious, with insomnia, and some physical pain, plus maybe gastric reflux. This sends you to the doctor, who gives you more pills (Trazodone, Zoloft, Nexium… all of which Lindsay, according to her probation report, is taking).

Lindsay, Lindsay… who since 2004 has had how many cosmetic-surgery procedures?—and did each one come with its subsequent painkiller prescription? I’ve known addicts who would get teeth pulled unnecessarily so they could get pills; in L.A. it’s just as easy (maybe easier) to go to your plastic surgeon.

Unfortunately it looks as though Lindsay will be able to keep getting her drugs while she’s in jail, because they’re prescribed by a doctor. Hopefully, for her sake, once she reaches rehab, that’ll change.

More Americans over 50 seeking drug-treatment

On the Today Show this morning: The rate of baby-boomers checking themselves into detox units has doubled.

More stats:

• admissions for heroin addiction: doubled from 1992 to 2008

• admissions for cocaine: quadrupled

• admissions for prescription drug abuse: quintupled

From the Today Show’s resident physician, Nancy Snyderman: “Patients want to go to their doctors and say, ‘Give me something, I can’t sleep. Give me something, I’m anxious.’ Doctors don’t want the pressure and say, ‘Sure, here’s your prescription, but I’m only giving it to you for two times.’ Then patients go doctor-shopping. And we are all complicit.”

Then she brings up Heath Ledger. Which is interesting, because so did the Time article we talked about yesterday. Heath Ledger died in 2008 aged 28 from an overdose of oxycodone, hydrocodone, Valium, Xanax, and a couple other drugs, according to the New York City medical examiner’s office. Said Snyderman:

Everyone should think about Heath Ledger. That was an accidental overdose that a lot of people who have affluence and means and a couple extra dollars can be a pill combination away from. If women think, “Oh, this can’t happen to me”—remember the last time you blew $60 on some fancy face lotion? If you’ll do that, you’ll spend $60 on a prescription medication. So we can’t all say it’s people we don’t know—it’s your next-door neighbor.

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