Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Celebrity disc jockey and Los Angeles club owner Adam Goldstein -- better known by his professional alias, DJ AM -- died of an overdose of cocaine and prescription drugs, the New York City medical examiner ruled Tuesday.

"The cause of death was accidental drug overdose due to the combined effects of cocaine, Vicodin, oxycodone, Ativan, Klonopin, Xanax, Benadryl and levamisole," said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the New York medical examiner. Levamisole is a medication drug dealers cut cocaine with before selling it on the street.

This story closely tracks with what law enforcement and recovery professionals see on a regular basis: addicts who have transitioned to lethal mixes of prescription and illegal drugs. And in case you missed it, our state was listed in a national report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Seattle Times reports:

In general, [University of Washington researcher Caleb Banta-Green] said, the deaths are a result of inappropriate use of prescription opioids with alcohol or other drugs — including frequently prescribed benzodiazepines such as Valium or Xanax. "Very rarely are they taking them exactly as prescribed," he said. In other cases, the drugs have been stolen from people to whom they were prescribed.

In 1997, opiate-related overdoses happened primarily in Seattle; in 2008, Banta-Green said, "they were all across the county."

In other words, drug overdoses were once tied to heroin use. Now, he said, "it's expanded really beyond the heroin-using population."

Learn more about combating prescription drug abuse on our RxIQ page.