How Heroin and Alcohol Killed Cory Monteith

How Heroin and Alcohol Killed Cory Monteith


The combination of heroin and alcohol is currently a hot news topic with the recent accidental death of actor and Glee cast member Cory Monteith.

Tragedy strikes

Saturday, July 6 the Vancouver police said in a news conference Saturday evening that Cory Monteith was found at noon on the hotel’s 21st floor. He had checked into the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel and had been expected to check out Saturday. When Monteith missed his checkout time at noon, hotel staff went to his room and found him, deceased.

Past Struggles

Monteith told Parade magazine in 2011 that he was “out of control” as a teen. He revealed that at age 13, he drank, smoked pot and skipped school in Victoria, British Columbia, after his parents divorced. By 16, his drug use had escalated. He was “doing anything and everything, as much as possible.” At 19, he entered rehab for the first time.

On March 31, 2013, the media announced that Monteith had admitted himself into a treatment facility for substance addiction. His treatment was completed on April 26, 2013.

Autopsy and Findings

An autopsy was completed by the British Columbia Coroners Service on July 15. The autopsy report stated that Monteith died from “a mixed drug toxicity” consisting of heroin and alcohol, and that his death appeared to have been accidental.

Heroin and Alcohol: a Deadly Combination

The drugs of abuse may give the user a feeling of pleasure, but it is important to remember that they are toxic substances. The vast majority of drug overdose cases involve the use of more than one drug. In 2003 the Drug Abuse Warning Network reported an average of 2.7 drugs in fatal overdose cases. Importantly in these cases, no single drug is usually present at a lethal dose. Rather it is the synergistic effect (think: 1+1=3) of the combining of drugs that is lethal. For example, a combination of heroin and alcohol can be especially dangerous. Heroin and alcohol both suppress breathing, but by different mechanisms.

Heroin is the cause for more deaths by overdose than any other single drug. The majority of these deaths ultimately result from respiratory failure. A toxic dose of heroin increases the inhibitory effect of GABA, which causes breathing to slow and eventually stop.

Alcohol overdoses occur predominantly in two ways. First, a high intake of alcohol causes unconsciousness. At high levels, it can also cause breathing to slow or cease. Second, the body tries to rid itself of unabsorbed alcohol by emptying the stomach. If a person vomits while they are unconscious, they may inhale the vomit and compromise their breathing or even drown.

Heroin and alcohol together is especially dangerous, experts say, because alcohol can exaggerate heroin’s effect on the central nervous system.

How Heroin and Alcohol Killed Cory Montieth

As with other cases where heroin and alcohol were involved, Cory’s death was likely an overdose of either alcohol, heroin or both, resulting in coma, brain damage and eventually death. Even if he had not taken a lethal amount of heroin, it proved to be deadly when he combined it with alcohol.

Drugs that depress that central nervous system slow the heartbeat, or in large enough doses, can stop it from beating entirely. Without oxygen-rich blood pumping to the body, brain cells become depleted and can die within minutes.

Heroin, a highly addictive opiate drug, is considered a depressant because of its effects sedating the central nervous system. Alcohol also functions as a depressant.

Combining these two depressants forms a deadly drug combination.







Methods of Drug Administration

Methods of drug administration

Methods of drug administration

A route of administration is the way that a substance is taken into the body. It is usually classified by application location. Generally, the method of drug administration has an effect on physiological effects of the drug; aka the pharmacodynamics.

Methods of drug administration: Gastrointestinal

Administration through the gastrointestinal tract usually includes anal and oral administration, because substances are taken up through the intestines. Oral can include the sublingual (under the tongue), sublabial (under the lip), and buccal (between the lips and gums) as well as just swallowing. Many drugs like tablets, capsules, and drops are taken orally. Gastrointestinal methods of drug administration can also include gastric feeding, where substances are administered directly into the stomach.

Methods of drug administration: Central Nervous System

There are three basic types of central nervous system methods of drug administration: Epidural, intracerebral, and intracerebroventricular. All of these methods of drug administration involve administering substances in some part of the spine.

Methods of drug administration: Other locations

There are many other methods of drug administration. These can be into the skin, under the skin, nasal, intravenous, into the heart, even in the eye or bone marrow. For drugs of abuse, the common methods of drug administration are oral, anal, inhalation, insufflation (snorting) and intravenous (injecting).

Methods of drug administration: Onset of drugs of abuse

In general, smoking and intravenous routes tend to show similar onset and bioavailability, and these two methods of drug administration have the fastest onset and the highest bioavailability (amount of active drug in the blood stream).However, this is not always the case, particularly when the drug must undergo first-pass metabolism in the liver to become active, or when the drug is compounded with other medications. For example, Suboxone is a formulation of buprenorphine (an opiate) that contains naloxone (an opiate blocker). When the drug is taken appropriately (sublingually) the naloxone is deactivated by the liver, and the user gets the full effect of the opiate. If the drug is injected, the naloxone will block the effect of the naloxone. It is also not advisable to inject or snort formulations containing non-narcotic painkillers (Like Percocet).

Snorting can sometimes cause a more rapid onset of the drug (depending on the drugs absorption through nasal membranes) and sometimes (but not always) has a higher bioavailability than swallowing. Swallowing generally has the slowest onset and the lowest bioavailability, but again, it all depends on the pharmacokinetics of the drug. Shooting, snorting, or smoking Vicoden is not effective; the drug can only be taken orally.

Methods of drug administration: Addiction

It is generally agreed that the more quickly a drug is delivered to the brain, the more likely it will lead to dependence. Consequently the routes of injecting and smoking which deliver drugs relatively quickly are considered more addictive than the routes of snorting or swallowing, which will deliver drugs more slowly. This is why tobacco use (smoking) and heroin use (most often injected) are the two drugs most often associated with dependence among users. When tolerance develops, drug craving and feelings of withdrawal are common.