Can anything positive come from the tragic death of Whitney Houston? Like it or not celebrities are role models. Whitney Houston could be a role model for what can happen if you take drugs and drink alcohol to extreme excess. Perhaps, her death can serve as a positive beacon to help keep people from falling victim to her vices.
Houston's tragic and untimely death surprised much of the nation. Such a shocking death certainly has not escaped the gossip of the mainstream media.
Mixing Drugs is Dangerous
Though the results from her autopsy will not be available for some time, the singer, who has dealt with drug and alcohol addictions in the past, was reportedly abusing a deadly combination of alcohol and Xanax around the time of her death.
It is important to realize how dangerous the combination of alcohol and drugs like Xanax can be.
Xanax, also known by the generic name alprazolam, is in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. Klonipin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam) and Ativan (lorazepam) are included in the same drug class. Similar to alcohol, benzodiazepines work as a depressant in the body's central nervous system. These drugs can cause sedation, muscle relaxation, sleep-induction, anti-anxiety and amnesic effects.
Because of these inhibitory and sedating effects, benzodiazepines are widely prescribed for a variety of conditions, including anxiety disorders, convulsive disorders, pre-surgical sedation and insomnia. In fact, benzodiazepines are some of the most widely prescribed drugs on the market. One report found that 11-15 percent of the American adult population has taken a benzodiazepine one or more times during the preceding year.
Benzodiazepines Abuse on the Rise
When used correctly and by themselves, benzodiazepines are relatively safe. But, when combined with other drugs that have depressant effects, such as alcohol, synergistic effects occur that increase the sedating effects of the drug. This can cause enhanced psychomotor slowing, confusion, slurred speech, dizziness, memory impairment, depression, or increased irritability and aggression. Loss of consciousness and deadly overdoses can also occur.
Benzodiazepine abuse has been on the rise during the last decade. From 1998-2008, the number of those seeking treatment for benzodiazepine-related abuse rose from an estimated 22,400 per year to 60,200 per year. For drug abusers, benzodiazepines are rarely the sole drug of choice. One study found that 80 percent of benzodiazepine abuse is associated with other drug abuse, mostly alcohol or opiates such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and heroin.
Though we do not yet know the cause of Whitney Houston's death, it is certainly plausible for the combination of Xanax and alcohol to have contributed to it. The synergistic effect of the two drugs can easily and unintentionally harm anyone using the combination. Alcohol can interact with several medications, particularly with medications with depressant effects such as benzodiazepines. Even if a person has been legally prescribed a drug such as Xanax, it does not necessarily make the drug foolproof and safe.
Alcohol drug classes help. Counseling helps too. Greater awareness of the dangers are crucial. Perhaps one teen or adult will decide not to mix booze into their prescription medication and a life will be saved.