I’m not going to preach, from a faraway place, but I’m damn well going to tell you about prescription drug abuse. You may know I’ve been gone more than nine years now, and like you mixed drugs that taken together dramatically increase their effects and stop many young, strong hearts. Choose any statistics you want; they’re all alarming. I’d say in the United States about fifty thousand people a year die after taking too many prescription medications or too much of a single medication. In my case, as I lay in my luxurious SoHo bedroom, examiners found several bottles, two opiate painkillers, Vicodin (which you also took) and Oxycontin, three anti-anxiety medications, Valium, Restoril, and Xanax, as well as some sleeping pills.
No single doctor gave me all those – I’d have needed Elvis’ doctor for that. But I had looked around, doctor shopped, as they say, and got what I felt I needed to control my pain, which originated in the brain and caused much anxiety and depression. I hear you’ve had four back surgeries in recent years so I surmise your primary problem is physical but you’re probably also dealing with psychological problems. Let’s take a look at your drugs – isn’t prescription medication a tidy euphemism? As noted, you took Vicodin, an “addictive painkiller (that can cause) drowsiness and confusion.” What many people are trying to figure out is how and why you were taking, or at least listed you were taking, some of the others. Vioxx? It’s an anti-inflammatory that caused a “high risk of heart attacks and strokes” and is no longer approved in the United States. Who prescribed Vioxx and how did you get it? You also said that you took Torix, an anti-inflammatory “used to treat joint pain.” This drug is also not approved in the U.S. Who prescribed it and how did you get it? And then there’s Soloxex, which is used to treat dogs suffering from hypothyroidism. Why did some medical wizard tell you to take that one? I’d like to hear the explanation.
I commend you for not having alcohol in your system and being forthright about what’s in your medicine cabinet, but we must consider the issue of driving under the influence, and concede there’s a serious problem when a guy’s found sleeping at three a.m. in his car parked on a public highway, and the engine’s running, and two tires are flat. Since both flats were on the left side, it looks like you were almost unconscious and lost control, veered left, and destroyed both tires by hitting a curb that probably bordered a sidewalk. Fortunately, there weren’t any people walking nearby. Since you told police you didn’t know where you’d been or where you were going, you wouldn’t have seen any pedestrians.
What this really means is that you need to do what I didn’t. Make sure all your doctors know about all your medications, and understand the reactions when various medications are taken together at certain dosage levels. You’ve spent so much of your life analyzing how wind and length of grass and contours of fairways and greens affect the behavior of a golf ball. Quit walking blindly and do some homework about what you put in your body.
Notes: Heath Ledger, one of the most talented actors of his generation, starred in Brokeback Mountain and The Dark Knight. He died at age twenty-eight.