Cory Monteith should have treated as a high risk for heroin overdose after he’d left his 30 day rehab. Experts say that patients who have used so-called “heavy” drugs have an increased chance of a fatal overdose after they’ve “detoxed” and left rehabilitation clinics.
The British Columbia coroner announced on Tuesday that the 31 year-old actor who starred in the Fox show Glee, died from an overdose of heroin and alcohol. Confirming everyone’s worst fears.
Monteith’s body was found at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel in Vancouver, after he’d missed his 1030 checkout time and the hotel’s staff went to check on the actor. At first it was not clear what had caused the young actors death, but the toxicology report confirmed that it was a deadly mix of heroin and alcohol that killed Monteith.
The actor had checked himself into to rehab March this year and finished his 30 stint in April. His girlfriend Lea Michele, who played his girlfriend in the Glee show, and Monteith went on vacation in Mexico to celebrate his leaving the rehab centre.
Experts say that rehab clinics are beneficial and can save lives as well as help those with addiction problems to “get clean” permanently. But the truth is, that after getting out of rehab, addicts are much more vulnerable to an overdose.
The addict’s system has undergone a detox program and this lowers their body’s tolerance to the drugs that they have been ingesting. According to Professor of Medicine, Neal Benowitz at the San Francisco branch of USC, “Heroin users develop a tolerance over time to the drug, so they need larger amount of the drug to get high. Their bodies have developed so much tolerance to the drug that they can ingest much more of the drug than they are used to.”
But once the addict has left rehab, his or her tolerance is much lower and it is the “lack of tolerance” combined with the user taking the drug in the “usual” dose that causes death. This lack of tolerance was what would have put Cory Monteith at a high risk for heroin overdose.
Cory Monteith was a self confessed addict with a history of substance misuse. He told People magazine in 2011 that his addiction has “spiralled out of control” when he was a teenager and that he’d been “doing anything and everything, as much as possible.”
Benowitz points out that, “Once those drugs are cleared from person’s system, however, taking a big dose all at once can prove fatal.”
According to John Brown an attending physician at San Francisco General Hospital’s emergency room, who spoke to USA Today, “Their body is now sensitive to it. They’ve essentially reset their body.”
Brown says that after the reset, once the drug is re-introduced into the addicts system, the body simply “stops breathing.” The reason is because of the nature of the drug and its affect on the system.
John Brown explained that heroin produces euphoria by binding to receptors on nerve cells in the brain, but many of those receptors are located on nerve cells that regulate breathing. Brown added, “heroin suppresses respiration not by damaging the lungs but by damaging parts of the brain that tell the lungs to breathe.”
The combination can create a vicious cycle according to Brown. He says that the brain fails to send proper signals, so the addicts breathing slows down. This “slow-down” means that the body’s cells become deprived of oxygen and it is this deadly combination that causes the body to stop breathing.
It was this fact that should have put Cory Monteith on the high risk category in the area of a heroin overdose. Sadly, neither Cory nor his devoted girlfriend Lea seemed to be aware of the dangers of his increased risk of death.
By Michael Smith