Health Team

Celebrity accidental overdoses show dangers of prescription drugs

Posted February 15, 2012

— It could be weeks before a medical examiner determines what caused the death of singing icon Whitney Houston last week, but authorities have said several prescription medications were found in her hotel room after staff found her submerged in a bathtub.

Accidental overdose on prescription medications has caused or contributed to the deaths of many celebrities in recent years, including Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Brittany Murphy and Anna Nicole Smith.

WakeMed medication safety officer and pharmacist Alex Jenkins said this should serve as a warning: Certain prescription medications can have lethal consequences if misused.

"You have to know what is in those medications and the potential for interactions," Jenkins said. 

Celebrity accidental overdoses show dangers of prescription drugs Celebrity accidental overdoses show dangers of prescription drugs

He said pain medications, sleep aids and anti-anxiety medications are of special concern, especially when a patient is taking any combination of the three. That's because they all work on the same brain receptors and can cause drowsiness, dizziness, unconsciousness and difficulty breathing.

"There is a potential for overdosing, especially if there's alcohol involved," Jenkins said. "You get a little drowsy. If you're sitting in a hot tub or you're sitting at the pool or you're sitting at home and maybe taking a bath, there's definitely a risk."

To avoid potentially dangerous drug interactions, Jenkins said it's critical that patients inform their pharmacist of all medications they're taking – even if those medications are being filled at a different pharmacy.


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  • lmiller2 Feb 23, 2012

    If your headline is correct, then why isn't the mainstream media and celebs preaching thisinstead of calling it a tradgedy?

  • PeaceOut2017 Feb 22, 2012

    "accidental", LOL. It's not like she was singing in the bathtub and some drugs accidentally fell off the medicine chest into her mouth

  • Jonezgrl Feb 21, 2012

    Does no one have a heart here? Since when are you perfect?

  • Jonezgrl Feb 21, 2012

    Mike275132, You are cold-hearted. Have you never done anything wrong or made mistakes in your life? If you think not, you are not being true to yourself. AND, no one knows for sure what she died from. Speaking of hypocrites.........

  • mike275132 Feb 21, 2012

    Accidental OVERDOSES?

    Whitney Houston Drug Addict
    Amy Winehouse Drug Addict
    Michael Jackson Drug Addict
    Elvis Drug Addict

    They sowed what they reaped. I love the Hypocrites in church for Houston's shin dig.

    She KILLED herself with drugs, SHE KNEW SHE WAS a DRUG Addict.

    But keep lying to yourselves everyone.

  • lfields2 Feb 17, 2012

    You don't have to be a genuis to know what a drug overdose is!!!

  • calsnana6 Feb 17, 2012

    It is not just celebrities that have OD. Checkout the CDC Website. This in an EPIDEMIC in the US now.

  • sunshine1040 Feb 16, 2012

    Who said they were accidental? Could have been done on purpose. Sorry folks the truth some folks are tired of fighting the demons and theis was the way for them to quit

  • genralwayne Feb 16, 2012

    Do you really think that Presley, Cobain, Jackson, Houston and the host of other drugged-out stars gave a second thought to the damage the drug cocktails were causing them? Any time one of these whackos kicks, the headlines should shout, "Another brain dead celeb bites it! Pay attention kiddies!"

  • anneonymousone Feb 16, 2012

    That's why I get all my prescriptions at the same pharmacy and ask about interactions when I need to buy over-the-counter medicines, too.

    I'm glad some people are seeing past the drama and celebrity angles and are looking to how we could all benefit from reminders about being safe when taking medicine.