Heath Ledger's Death; A Tragic Loss that Could Have Been Prevented, according to Point of Return

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In light of the recent death of Heath Ledger, Point of Return announces its expansion of their in-home withdrawal program for Anxiety Medications, Sleeping Pills and Antidepressants.

I sure as hell wouldn't let it happen to me.

The death of Heath Ledger brought the danger of sleeping pills, anxiety medications and opiates to the public. Nearly thirty years ago Elvis Presley died from a similar cocktail of medications and after his death, the use of sleeping pills declined.

Now pill usage is climbing again and at an alarming rate among people of all ages, with the use of Sleeping Pills, Anxiety Medications, Antidepressants and Painkillers skyrocketing. And with the increased consumption of pills, adverse reactions to prescription drugs have become the fourth leading killer in the United States. And unfortunately, there are those who think that what happened to Heath is an isolated incident and couldn't happen to them. Even Lindsay Lohan was recently quoted as saying, "I'm not them", (referring to Marilyn Monroe and Heath Ledger) "I sure as hell wouldn't let it happen to me." So why do so many people stay on medications that can pose such risk?

According to Dr. Bill Code, a leading expert in brain research and addiction, and the author of Winning the Pain Game, "I think one of the most misunderstood addictions is to benzodiazepines and sleeping pills. These medications don't actually improve your sleep quality, but they do help you forget the number of times you were awake during the night. Sleeping pills interrupt REM Dream Sleep very rapidly and provide a belief of false improvement, and they can be extremely challenging to stop."

As a nation, we are spending billions on sleeping pills, and although they are only recommended for short-term use, many take them for months or years without realizing the danger. The anxiety class of medications such as benzodiazepines, and also sleeping pills are deemed by many experts as the most difficult group of drugs to withdraw from. Many describe the withdrawal symptoms as so intolerable that they reinstate the drug. This particular class of medications is commonly prescribed by physicians for sleep issues, without any knowledge of the danger. Dr. Code insists the safest way to withdraw is through a slow taper versus attempting an abrupt cessation, due to the medical risks involved. Cold-turkey withdrawal can cause severe rebound anxiety and insomnia as well as many other symptoms.

As Dr. Code asserts, "Its important to look at what else we can do to help our sleep issues. Even melatonin would be a better choice, but at typically 1/10th the amount available in over-the counter supplements. At night is when the majority of our healing is accomplished, so it is critical to use items that do not interfere with the quality of natural sleep."

Pills that force us to sleep also affect us during the day -- impairing our judgment, memory and intelligence. However, when issues of pain are combined with insomnia, it is commonplace for painkillers to be prescribed with anxiety medications and sleeping pills.

"The public doesn't realize that a side effect of opioid medications is respiratory depression. Benzodiazepines (anxiety medications) enhance this effect, and combining multiple medications or adding sleeping pills can be quite dangerous. Anytime you add more than one drug from the sleeping class, you can have a significant respiratory effect and the severity can vary between people," concludes Dr. Code.

The medications Heath Ledger was taking are among the most commonly prescribed worldwide. Alesandra Rain, co-founder of Point of Return, a California based organization that assists individuals who are addicted to prescription medications, maintains that Heath Ledger's combination of pills is very typical today. "I was on a similar cocktail for over ten years, including Temazepam, Clonazepam, Effexor, Sinequan and Ambien and it became a living nightmare," says Rain. "Many of our clients are also on combinations of sleeping pills, antidepressants and anxiety meds."

Medications are commonplace in our society but come with risks that must be recognized. Heath Ledger's journey should serve as a warning to all of us. The world lost a gifted actor and his family and friends are suffering a needless loss.

For more information on how to withdraw safely, contact http://www.PointofReturn.com or call toll-free 866.605.2333.

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Andrea Crocker
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