“You can’t mix drugs that you don’t know anything about,” Kim Ledger, Heath’s father, recalls his daughter telling her brother. “Katie, Katie, I’ll be fine,” Heath said in response, according to Kim.
THE night before Heath Ledger died in 2008 from a lethal drug overdose, his sister Kate warned him not to mix prescription medications.
“The last conversation Kate had with him was this discussion about his medications and she warned him, ‘‘You can’t mix drugs that you don’t know anything about’,” Ledger’s father Kim told news.com.au.
“He said ‘Katie, Katie, I’ll be fine’. Well, that’s a cavalier boy’s answer. It just put his whole system to sleep I guess,” Mr Ledger said.
The 28-year-old died from a lethal combination of several different prescription medications in his New York apartment.
The toxicology report found that Ledger’s death was the result of “acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine”, and his death was “accident, resulting from the abuse of prescribed medications.”
Australians are some of the biggest recreational drug users in the world, according to the United Nations 2014 World Drug Report.
We rank first for ecstasy, second for opioids (painkillers such as codeine or morphine), third for methamphetamines, fourth for cocaine and seventh for cannabis.
In the eight years since his son’s death, Mr Ledger has tried to raise awareness about prescription medication misuse.
Mr Ledger says his son was not addicted to opioids, but simply made the mistake of mixing the wrong drugs.
“It was a one-off thing,” he said. “That’s what killed us, because he was warned by his sister the night before: ‘You shouldn’t mix what you’re taking for pnemonia with your ambien’. But most of Heath’s problems were self-induced.”
His hectic work schedule had begun to take its toll, Mr Ledger said.
“There is pressure on everybody, especially young people, to perform and to keep going.
“He was a young guy that travelled all the time for work. Even as a two-year-old, he hardly ever slept. He was trying to work and travel and do everything in a short space of time.
Mr Ledger says most Australians are unaware of how widespread our opioid abuse problem is.
(Australians) are definitely not up to speed with just how bad these things can be,” he said.
“Heath mixed a couple of drugs together with sleeping tablets and he’s gone forever. That’s something we (himself, wife Sally and sister Kate) just have to deal with.”
Addiction medicine specialist Dr Christian Rowan says our prescription drug addiction problem is one of the biggest in the world; 450 Australians die as a result of prescription opioid misuse every year.
A quarter of Australians admit to using opioid painkillers every month, despite almost half being unaware of their addictive nature.
According to a new survey from ScriptWise, an organisation trying to prevent prescription medication misuse.
Many addicts don’t discuss their dependency with others for fear of judgment or being treated differently, the survey found.
Most people become “accidentally” addicted after being prescribed painkillers due to an injury and start to take more than the recommended dosage.
“They might be off work because of the injury,” Dr Rowan said. “They might be depressed and they can get into the cycle of taking more than they need and start to rely on the medication. They can become accidentally dependent on the drug.”
Dr Rowan says medication isn’t the only way to treat pain.
“There are a range of treatments, including physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, which can help with pain relief,” he said. “Sometimes reaching for tablets can be an easy solution, but it’s not always the best solution.”
Reducing the stigma attached to prescription drug addictions is the best way to help reduce the problem, Mr Ledger said.
“We encourage people to start verbalising their problems with close friends or families or other relatives,” he said.
“Losing a child is something that never leaves you. You can live with the pain, but it never leaves you.
“By speaking about Heath and what happened to him, we can send a message to Australians and hopefully we can save someone’s life.”
Has Harry accepted that his mother was mentally ill? Or his ‘weakness’ as 12 year old
Prince Harry ‘Regrets’ Not Speaking About Princess Diana’s Death
Harry Opens Up About Princess Diana’s Death
Prince Harry said he regrets not discussing the death of his mother, Diana, the Princess of Wales, earlier in his life.
“You know, I really regret not ever talking about it,” Harry, 31, told soccer player Rio Ferdinand at a barbecue he hosted at Kensington Palace for his “Heads Together” mental health initiative.
Prince Harry was just 12 years old in 1997 when he lost his mom, who died in a tragic car accident at the age of 36. Diana also left behind Harry’s older brother Prince William, who was 15 at the time.
Ferdinand lost his wife to cancer last year and spoke to Harry about the challenges of her death and how it might affect his kids.
“He’s gone through different stages in his life that my kids are going to be going towards,” Ferdinand said of Prince Harry. “So to get some of his experiences is very rewarding for me and very educational in many ways.”
Harry admitted it was only in the last three years that he has been comfortable opening up about his mother’s death. He told the BBC Monday that it is critical for people to discuss life’s challenges to help them get past life’s adversities.
“It is OK to suffer, but as long as you talk about it. It is not a weakness,” Harry said. “Weakness is having a problem and not recognizing it and not solving that problem.”
Harry’s comments came on the same day the fifth-in-line to the British throne released a new video for “Heads Together,” the mental health campaign he formed and spearheads with his brother and sister-in-law, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The campaign brings leading mental health charities together to tackle often unspoken and taboo subjects that people are afraid to discuss, and encourages people to speak up about mental health.
Harry reminded people that anyone can suffer from mental health issues, even sports stars and members of the royal family.
“It is very easy for someone to look at someone like Rio Ferdinand and say, ‘You get paid all the money in the world, you are a successful footballer, you have fast cars,'” Harry told the BBC. “But at the end of the day his wife was snatched from him at an early stage of his life with her. So of course he is going to suffer, it doesn’t matter if he has an amazing job.”
Harry’s charitable focus over the next year centers on mental health awareness as well as raising awareness for HIV/AIDS, a cause also championed by his mother.