Who Killed Heath Ledger

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					Who Killed Heath Ledger?

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1378

Summary:
Can our beloved Heath Ledgers death be at least one catalyst that will
draw this devastating travesty to the public's attention to demand more
information?


Keywords:
Who Killed Heath Ledger


Article Body:
The first time I saw Heath Ledger, it was by accident. My date and later
to-be husband, Nick, took me to see 'The Sixth Sense', finally succumbing
to peer pressure to guess „the big surprise ending. By now, 'The Sixth
Sense' was off the major theater chain circuit and only screening in
small suburban independent theaters, which led us to experience one of
those now rare events: a double-feature matinee. The first movie was '10
Things I Hate About You'.

Well passed „teen movies, even those with Shakespearian-based scripts, we
shyly admitted to liking 10 Things. Wow, I really like the male lead,
what was his name? “He‟s Australian, you know”, replied Nick. And in
typical Aussie-fashion, I was doubly impressed and now stupidly filled
with national pride. Another brilliant Australian up-and-comer to join
the rapidly increasing queue to grace Hollywood screens.

Years later, I would often grab the DVD to fill a cheerless afternoon and
find myself watching and rewinding the same scene. Over and over and over
again. My secret guilty pleasure. Heath sliding down the pole, microphone
in hand, singing “You‟re just too good to be true, can‟t take my eyes off
of you …” The brass band kicks in. And that charmingly defiant half-run,
half-prancing across the school steps. The scene is brilliant. It‟s
inexplicable. He simply has that old-fashioned „it‟ factor.

I‟m not a star-struck fan and was never one of those teenagers with
movie-star idol posters plastered all over my bedroom walls, but this
kids got talent.

And then came those scene-stealing roles that totally blew us   away. The
Patriot. Monsters Ball. And finally leading-man status and an   Academy
Award nomination. By now, we were just used to having another   famous
Australian up there with the rest of the world's great talent   churning
out an endless array of diverse, yet illustrious film roles.

We had no idea. It was not endless. It was not what we expected.

When people who I‟ve never met but greatly admire die, I‟m sad. But I‟ve
never cried before. I have never before felt that heart wrenching
overwhelming shock that lasted for days after I heard the news. This time
it was somehow more personal. As soon as I read the detailed list of the
first report of his deathbed scene, I intuitively knew how he died.
Ten days later the final medical examiners report confirmed my
suspicions.

Hollywood is „Xanax-city. Feeling down, pop a Xanax. Feeling stressed,
pop a Xanax. Need to perform at your very best, pop a Xanax. A-list stars
feel the pressure to provide A-grade performances when working on multi-
million dollar films. There's too much money at stake. The intense
stress, both internal and external, is immeasurable. The studios are
risking billions, paying the stars millions, and the actors are
unnaturally subjected to more pressure than we mere mortals can imagine.

Heath Ledger, himself, admitted that after the worldwide release of A
Knights Tale with its instant paparazzi-bulb-flashing stardom, his stress
levels increased ten-fold.

Xanax is the trade name of the generic anti-anxiety/tranquillizer
prescription drug, alprazolam, listed in Ledgers toxicity report. The
other anti-anxiety drug was diazepam, or more commonly known as Valium.
These drugs are from a class of commonly prescribed tranquilizers known
as benzodiazepines or simply referred to as benzos.

According to the latest National Health Study, approximately 10 million
scripts of benzos are written annually in Australia alone with its meagre
population of 20 million compared to 300 million in the US.

Many doctors will write a script for benzos faster than a speeding
bullet. But the real danger is that too many of them do not know the
long-term effects these drugs have on your system, how to give their
patients the correct advice when administering or monitoring the dosages,
and – more frighteningly - how to manage their patients benzo withdrawal
program.
Firstly, this is how benzos affect your body – or more importantly – your
brain. Benzodiazepines increase, or rather, enhance your brains main
neurotransmitter, commonly known as GABA. Eventually, and this can be as
quickly as 3 to 4 weeks if taking a daily dose, your brain will stop
producing its own GABA and rely totally on the artificial benzo.

GABA is the most important neurotransmitter because it affects just about
everything else. Primarily it enhances the brains other neurotransmitters
such as Serotonin and Dopamine. All of the brains neurotransmitters have
important functions such as, voluntary movement of the muscles,
wakefulness, sleep, memory function, sensory transmission - especially
pain, and much, much more.

The problem is that from this point on your brain needs more benzo as
tolerance starts the downward spiral, and the brain needs higher and
higher dosages to obtain the same effect. If the patient is not given the
correct dosage or management advice, that insidious and often-undiagnosed
disorder known as Benzo Withdrawal Syndrome (BWS) will start its ugly and
potentially dangerous descent.
BWS is known by experts in the field for its severity and prolonged
nature. It may take years to fully withdraw from benzos, even with proper
care and supervision. Without this knowledge, the unwitting patient can
suffer from over 30 symptoms, the most common being unrelenting insomnia,
severe pain and mood changes. People who have been taking benzos for a
relatively short time can experience withdrawal symptoms even whilst
taking the drug. In addition, if you have been taking them for a
prolonged time, and then suddenly stop, dire circumstances may happen.
Or, at the very least, more pain, more depression and unrelenting
insomnia.

When we now read about Heath Ledgers complaints, does this sound
familiar? Everything points to extreme Benzo Withdrawal, but no-one is
exclaiming its dangers. In fact, most GPs and even hospital doctors admit
they know very little about Benzo Withdrawal. Some even refer their
patients to drug rehabilitation centers – an absolute no-no according to
benzo counselors. Benzo withdrawal is the exact opposite to alcohol or
street drug dependency. You don‟t want to abruptly eliminate the benzo
from your body, as they often do in drug rehabilitation. The brain needs
the benzo. One must gradually withdraw the artificial benzo until the
brain can eventually increase its own GABA. Sudden cessation of benzos
can cause severe problems such as seizures and blackouts.

When in BWS, the counselors advise against taking any medication or drugs
whatsoever. Paracetamol is probably the only thing the body can cope with
for pain relief. Nothing else. Even codeine is forbidden. Also, one
should totally refrain from alcohol, caffeine, and all stimulants. There
is a strong protocol to be followed and without this knowledge, the
patient is easily put at great risk.

The Ashton Manual, the acknowledged benzodiazepine „bible, warns:

“Drug interactions: Benzodiazepines have additive effects with other
drugs with sedative actions including other hypnotic's, some
antidepressant's (e.g. amitriptyline [Elavil], doxepin [Adapin,
Sinequan]), major tranquilizers or neuroleptics (e.g. prochlorperazine
[Compazine], trifluoperazine [Stelazine]), anticonvulsant's (e.g.
phenobarbital, phenytoin [Dilantin], carbamazepine [Atretol, Tegretol]),
sedative antihistamines (e.g. diphenhydramine [Benadryl], promethazine
[Phenergan]), opiates (heroin, morphine, meperidine), and, importantly,
alcohol. Patients taking benzodiazepines should be warned of these
interactions. If sedative drugs are taken in overdose, benzodiazepines
may add to the risk of fatality.”

The real problem is that there are extremely few experts in treating BWS;
they will not include your local doctor, hospital, or drug clinic.
However, there are good BWS specialists that can be extremely helpful,
but they are usually found in specially funded tranquillizer recovery
clinics.

One must ask, why don‟t doctors know about this? The problem is they
simply don‟t. Is it their fault or the pharmaceutical companies that
profit from these addictions? There is little or no dissemination of
information within the community, the medical fraternity or from the
pharmaceutical companies about benzodiazepines. And, according to BWS
counselors working in the field, there is insufficient research or
empirical studies on the effects of benzos and BWS management to assist
them with their intensive workload's.

Why? Who is at fault? Who is responsible for remedying the situation? Why
are the people who write the scripts uninformed about the after-effects
and potential dangers associated with benzodiazepines?

Can our beloved Heath Ledgers death be at least one catalyst that will
draw this devastating travesty to the public's attention to demand more
information?

I hope so.

				
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