Friday, January 11, 2008

There are always drug-related deaths

I received this as a comment to a previous post, but in looking at it I thought I would move it up to the level of a primary post. It seemed particularly pertinent as we worked through our case conferences last Wednesday with 5 overdose deaths (out of the 12 deaths we discussed). Those deaths were due to a variety of drugs, sometimes singly and sometimes poly-pharmacy, but drug-related deaths none the less. The individuals ranged in age from 18 to 69 and came from various places across the county and various socioeconomic strata.

Here is a mother’s heartfelt note:
My son Timothy Galvin was 18 years old and died of a methadone overdose.
Timothy is my son. He was my life. He was going to begin classes at Rogers State University in January 2008. He was a soldier in the National Guard and would have been deployed for Iraq in November 2007, but he had scored a 56 on his ASVAP test for enlistment. His Sergeant said this was one of the highest scores he had seen in 6 years. Therefore, he was eligible fro the college first program. He would not have to be deployed if he was enrolled in college. He was at a party on November 7 2007. I was told that he had been drinking liquor and Tim was not in his right mind if he was drinking anything other than a few beers. Somebody "gave him" or "let him take" a deadly dose of Methadone and by the next morning his best friend had to be the one to find him dead in his bed. This was a tragic & unfortunate accident that I pray no other family will have to go through, but I know that it will happen again. That is why, I don't know how & I don't know what it will take, but i am starting to gather more information on Methadone availability and find out what regulations the government is actually enforcing. Then I will call every Senator, State Representative, Pharmacy Boards, Clinic and mother that has lost their child to this drug and maybe we can change something. If you have lost your child from a methadone overdose and would like to e-mail me:

God Bless,
Timara Jean Meeks


RevMedic said...

In my area, methadone seems easy to acquire. I've had several serious and at least one fatal overdose over the past few years.
I say at least one, because there were several that were either methadone or heroin, and I never heard the followup.
I certainly believe that it is becoming more used with younger experimenters.

iconoclast59 said...

Hi, Dr. Keller,
Beside street use or heroin withdrawal therapy, methadone is increasingly being prescribed by physicians for patients with chronic pain. What many don't know is that anti-depressants interact with methadone in such a manner as to cause increased concentrations of the latter in the bloodstream. In other words, if you're on anti-depressants, you can "overdose" on methadone even if you're taking the prescribed amount. Given the number of people on anti-depressants, I predict you'll see more methadone overdose victims come through your office.

Kathy said...

Hi Dr. Keller,
It seems to me that there is not enough awareness in the medical community about the effects of methadone and anti-depressants mixed. I also think the goverment body if there is one in charge of overseeing the methadone programs should ban the taking home of the doses. In the mind of an addict enough may never be enough. So, giving them doses to take home is like putting a loaded gun to there head. Chances are they are already on anti-depressants, it seems to be the protocol for people with any kind of substance abuse. Maybe they just don't care. Not all addicts want to stay that way. Many of them are trying to change their way of life and rely on the medical community to help them. If you can't trust your doctor to make the right choices how is help ever going to be obtained. I think it would be common sense not to mix a depressant with an "anti-depressant" that would confuse anyone that is in their "right" mind.


Dr. Richard Keller said...

Although I should mention that most of the methadone-related deaths we are seeing have been given the methadone as a pain medicine, not for addiction treatment.

Timara Meeks said...

Thursday March 20, 2008
I just heard this on the news and it scared the hell out of me!!

Click on this link to hear about 7 students in St. Joseph MO that overdosed on methadone--something that we are all too familiar with. Thankfully, they were not fatal overdoses