HEALTHY LIVING
03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Sleeping Pills: Bad Choice For A Mixer

The investigation into actor Heath Ledger's death -- still unresolved, though medication has been suspected -- and a recent CDC report on fatal overdoses have brought national attention to the dangers of prescription drugs.

"People have a false sense of security," says Michael Negrete, chief executive of the Pharmacy Foundation of California. "They think, 'I see it on TV all the time. All my friends are taking it.' People need to understand that no matter how many times they see a drug on TV, these are dangerous medications."

With the wrong combination of pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter drugs, herbal preparations or alcohol, anyone can innocently concoct a caldron full of toil and trouble -- even a potion for death. And they do, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unintentional poisoning deaths, 95% of which are drug overdoses, increased from 12,186 in 1999 to 20,950 in 2004.

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