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People who died from accidental combined drug intoxication (CDI)

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Profiles

  • Janis Joplin (1943 - 1970)
    Janis Lyn Joplin (January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970) was an American singer, songwriter and music arranger. She rose to prominence in the late 1960s as the lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding C...
  • David Anthony Kennedy (1955 - 1984)
  • Heath Ledger (1979 - 2008)
    Already something of an established actor in his native Australia, Heath Ledger launched to success as a teen heartthrob in his early films such as 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), Ledger’s career pr...
  • John Adam Belushi (1949 - 1982)
    John Adam Belushi ( /bəˈluːʃi/; January 24, 1949 – March 5, 1982) was an American comedian, actor, and musician, best known as one of the original cast members of the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Ni...
  • Chris Farley (1964 - 1997)
    Christopher Crosby "Chris" Farley (February 15, 1964 – December 18, 1997) was an American comedian and actor. Farley was a member of Chicago's The Second City Theatre and cast member of the NBC sketch ...

Combined drug intoxication (CDI), also known as multiple drug intake (MDI) or lethal polydrug/polypharmacy intoxication, is an unnatural cause of human death. CDI is often confused with drug overdose, but it is a completely different phenomenon. It is distinct in that it is due to the simultaneous use of multiple drugs, whether the drugs are prescription, over-the-counter, recreational, or some other combination. Alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms and may directly contribute to increased severity of symptoms. The reasons for toxicity vary depending on the mixture of drugs. Usually, most victims die after using two or more drugs in combination that suppress breathing, and the low blood oxygen level causes brain death.

CDI can occur with numerous drug combinations, including mixtures of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, legally or illegally obtained prescription drugs, herbal mixtures, and home remedies. Ingestion of alcoholic beverages, in combination with other drugs, increases the risk of CDI.

The CDI/MDI phenomenon seems to be becoming more common in recent years. In December 2007, according to Dr. John Mendelson, a pharmacologist at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, deaths by combined drug intoxication were relatively "rare" ("one in several million"), though they appeared then to be "on the rise". In July 2008, the Associated Press and CNN reported on a medical study showing that over two decades, from 1983 to 2004, such deaths have soared. It has also become a prevalent risk for older patients.


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