A coroner’s report con­firmed last week that actor Cory Monteith’s death was a result of an over­dose. Mon­teith joins icons like Heath Ledger, River Phoenix, John Belushi, and Jim Mor­rison in meeting a pre­ma­ture end by over­dosing on pre­scrip­tion opi­oids, heroin, or some mix­ture of these drugs with other sub­stances. We all know that stars are “just like us,” so it should come as no sur­prise that celebri­ties are not excep­tional when it comes to risks of overdose.

In fact, Motheith’s death is part of a nation­wide epi­demic that has qui­etly climbed the charts of America’s top killers: drug over­doses now claim more lives than motor vehicle acci­dents. Opioid drugs (including pre­scrip­tion painkillers and heroin) are the pri­mary cul­prits, con­tributing to approx­i­mately 17,000 U.S. deaths. Though count­less celebri­ties have trag­i­cally died of over­dose, there is no high-​​profile spokesperson, event, or fund ded­i­cated to bat­tling this epidemic.

In the wake of last week’s tragedy, many voices have pointed out (for example, herehere, and here) that Monteith’s demise — and that of many others — could have been pre­vented. People emerging from detox (or any other period of absti­nence, such as spending time behind bars) are many times more likely to over­dose than reg­ular users. This is because, when you resume drug use after a hiatus, it is not unusual to pick up where you left off in terms of what and how much you use; one’s reg­ular dose can become lethal in such sit­u­a­tions because of changes in the body’s ability to tol­erate the drug. People emerging from treat­ment may also mix var­ious drugs and alcohol, which proved the lethal com­bi­na­tion in Monteith’s case.

Read the article at Huffington Post →