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Laser disco on the beach At NightYOUR BODY, THE CHEMISTRY SET

In 2009, James N. Hall, who happens to be an epidemiologists at Nova Southeastern University, conducted an analysis of 1, 185 FLORIDA oxycodone deaths in which the drug was considered to be the main cause. 72% of the them had one or more benzodiazepines in their systems at the time of death and 42% had at least one other opioid on top of the oxycodone. Florida, we know that partying is big here, but this is out of control. 

On the national level, drug deaths have doubled in the past decade to surpass not only automobile deaths but also gun deaths. Drug deaths are the leading cause of accidental death in America. The reason is not that more people are using drugs, although I am sure some of it has to do with that, but it has more so to do with the fact that more of you, us, them, are combing dangerous drugs together. 

Mixing drugs is deadly. You’re basically making your body a flask from a chemistry set. Add a little of this, add a little of that, and before you know it boom!! BAM!! Explosion. Except it’s not an explosion. It’s slowed breathing, heart stopping, cardiac arrest, you know, death. Don’t believe us? The list of famous actors and musicians killed over the years due to a combo cocktail of drugs is long. 


Jimi Hendrix died of a combination of barbiturates and alcohol. Janis Joplin passed away from heroin and alcohol. Whitney Houston was killed by a cocktail of alcohol, cocaine, Xanax, and the antihistamine DBH as well as a muscle relaxant. Chris Farley, River Pheonix, Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley and Philip Seymour Hoffman all died from mixing cocaine with heroin or morphine. 

In America, and not just America, but the UK as well, the 90s rave scene played a big role in popularizing “cocktails of drugs.” “Modern patterns of polysubstance abuse go back to the mid-1990s rave scene when ecstasy was usually MDMA,” Hall says. “Yet even back then, ecstasy did not always live up to its name. Users who expected more of a stimulant rush would begin their weekend by snorting cocaine or try LSD…More experienced crashers would ultimately turn to heroin to bring them down after the weekend binge.” 


And as for today? Well, the rave scene has been reborn, kind of. It is known as EDM and ecstasy has been rebranded as molly. Many EDM fans believe they are safe because they take only one substance, molly, which is supposed to be pure MDMA. The reality of that is that most molly contains little or no MDMA and often consists of some combination of drugs including various forms of bath salts, methamphetamine, and whatever the drug dealer happens to have lying around when they fill the capsules. 


The role of alcohol is huge and the mixes are super dangerous. Many polydrug users dont think vodka or tequila is a drug because its legal. But adding alcohol to any kind of party night can make it extremely more threatening and dangerous. How many people have woken up after a night of binging on cocaine to find an empty bottle of liquor inside and wondered, how the hell did I drink a liter of vodka last night? I never wondered, I knew how but yes I did this too. 

This is very similar with prescription drugs. There is a wide held belief that because they are prescribed that they are ok. That and they are “pure” because they come from the doc. They may be pure but they sure as hell aren’t safe. With a few obvious exceptions such as fentanyl laced heroin, the cause of more than 80 deaths in the Northeast as I write this, oftentimes even pure drugs are just as dangerous. 


Here is another issue. When the drugs start to wear off in your body you assume they aren’t in your body anymore, well, they are. The toxic half life of opiates for example can last for days after the initial high so when the user decides to get a little bit more high with more opiates or another type of drug, they can turn already dangerous levels into fatal ones. 

The good news in all of this is that prescription drug abuse is down. The bad news is that a new wave of drugs is hitting the market from Chinese factories. These drugs add another x-factor to an already highly volatile mix. Some of the substances are so obscure that DEA chemists can’t even figure them out. 

Polysubstance abuse isn’t anything new and it is still just as dangerous as it was when Jimi and Janis died. Take caution. And if you or someone you love is using drugs get help. It is rare to find the addict who is just using one substance these days.