The death of actor Heath Ledger, who was widely publicized recently, is drawing greater attention to the alarming rise in overdose deaths in the United States, which is mostly caused by prescription medicines. In the United States, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that prescription medicines have surpassed cocaine and heroin combined as the top cause of fatal overdoses. And treatment professionals around the nation are seeing a significant surge in the number of persons with prescription drug issues of all types seeking treatment at medical detox in St. Louis facilities.

Although overdose fatalities have been climbing since the early 1990s, current prescription drug death figures have climbed so significantly that they have caused the first increase in the nation’s mortality rate from all causes in 25 years, according to research released in December by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The statistics on prescription drug addiction and overdose are supported by the shifting demography of persons who are admitted to drug detox clinics throughout the world.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid medicines including such OxyContin and methadone are responsible for the vast majority of overdose fatalities. However, the number of drug poisoning fatalities using other psychotherapy medicines, such as tranquilizers and antidepressants, increased by an astonishing 84 percent between 1999 and 2004. Furthermore, an increasing number of unintentional fatalities are caused by risky combinations of prescription medicines, including such antidepressants and benzodiazepines, with opiates.

Whether prescription medicines are acquired legitimately or unlawfully, the sheer quantity and diversity of them, their various adverse effects, and complicated sets of symptoms of withdrawal – particularly when used in infinite permutations – have prompted drug detox professionals to create better strategies to assist patients get off the drugs safely and without incident. John Walters, head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Program, who introduced a large new advertising campaign aimed at preventing prescription drug addiction among minors, stated that since prescription medications are not considered a street drug, people believe they are not at danger.

Prescription drug abuse affects people from many walks of life, and the majority of those who seek help for prescription drug addiction are middle-class, law-abiding individuals. According to Hayes, “the vast majority of individuals who come to Novus for medicinal detox look exactly like your accountant, lawyer, or doctor,” as well as “your mother, brother, or father.” Despite the fact that they are well-dressed and well groomed, they have respectable, well-paying jobs, they support and love their families, and they have no clue how to get illicit substances or where to look for them.

According to all of the study, news reports, and statistics, it is obvious that the vast majority of persons with prescription drug issues who seek drug detox are regular Americans who have been entangled in a web of dependency by accident or choice. The murder of brilliant actor Heath Ledger, who was discovered dead on the ground surrounded by prescription medication containers, is a heartbreaking illustration of what may happen when drug medical detox in St. Louis is shunned or disregarded when it is most required – to get the individual off the drugs before disaster hits.

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