Heroin Is Only Part of the Overdose Equation
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Heroin Is Only Part of the Overdose Equation


what causes a drug overdoseCan there be too much of a good thing? Well, in the case of addicts, alcoholics, overeaters and hoarders all over the globe that would be a resounding yes. Overdose is a scary, loaded word. Hearing someone overdosed on drugs is often so many people’s (usually the loved ones of addicts) perpetual fear, manifested. Sadly, for habitual, serious drug users it’s not a matter of if they overdose; it’s a matter of when.

Poorly Mixed Cocktails

Heroin-related deaths are continuously on the rise. In fact, killings by way of heroin ODs doubled from 2010 to 2012. But according to a story in The Week, increasingly heroin is only part of the overdose equation. Overdose-related deaths are often the result of a combination of substances, not just one. So while we’re all very quick to blame heroin for killing people, it usually doesn’t act without an accomplice. The most recent public example of this is Lamar Odom. He is still alive—thankfully—but was reportedly using a nearly lethal mix of cocaine, heroin and an herb-derived Viagra when he became unconscious.

“Polydrug interactions” are when things get really dangerous. Heroin plus any type of depressant, like alcohol or benzos, is especially bad. It literally depresses breathing so people die of respiratory failure. The chances of mixing heroin with other substances are pretty high considering most people don’t just pick up a heroin habit. The journey to heroin is usually a long one wrought with lots of other mind altering stops along the way. Comedian Artie Lange ultimately struggled to kick a heroin habit but it certainly wasn’t his initial drug of choice. When Phillip Seymour Hoffman was found dead, they discovered he had ingested a combination of heroin, cocaine, amphetamines and benzodiazepines. Dr. Len Paulozzi from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Huffington Post at the time of Hoffman’s death, over half of all overdose deaths are from a mix of lots of drugs, as opposed to too much of just one.

Get In The Know, Now

So why is this relevant? Education and awareness around the danger of mixing certain drugs together, or mixing certain drugs with alcohol, should be part of the preventative measures. This should be covered in harm reduction efforts. In other words, people need to really know what the hell they’re putting in their bodies before they start snorting, inhaling and main lining. It should be as ingrained as look both ways before crossing the street and don’t take candy from strangers in big, white vans. God knows, I really wish somebody would have warned me about the dangers of mixing Red Bull, vodka and medical-grade marijuana. Instead I had to learn the hard way with a full-blown public panic attack backstage at The World Famous Comedy Store. No more Grey Goose or pot for this gal. (Energy drinks are still consumed in moderation).

Will knowing the risks stop people? Of course not! It might help a little though. It obviously becomes more difficult to terrify people with the consequences the further they’re down the addiction rabbit hole. But it’s certainly not a bad idea to have these facts hammered home sooner rather than later.

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About Author

Mary Patterson Broome has written for After Party Magazine, Women's Health Magazine Online, AOL, WE TV and Mashed. She has been performing stand-up comedy at clubs, colleges, casinos, and festivals for over a decade.