It was 24 years ago this day that actor River Phoenix unfortunately died after taking a lethal concoction of drugs at LA’s nightclub The Viper-room, a well-known rock-venue downtown in LA.
Like so many people who attend the club, River Phoenix was taking cocaine with friends which included the Red Hot Chillie Pepper’s member “Flea”.
At this time River Phoenix was at the height of his fame, he had been recording several films after rising to fame for numerous roles, one of which included the role of Young Indiana Jones and Stephen King’s Stand by Me, which elevated his fame into a global house-hold name.
Unfortunately, undisclosed to the general public was the extent of his drug use and the drug use of many around him.
Powerful drugs such as benzodiazepines, cocaine and heroin flowed freely around Hollywood around the 90’s, those who didn’t seek refuge in recovery groups began to get wildly out of control.
Unfortunately for River Phoenix, this lifestyle came abruptly to an end when he collapsed after leaving the nightclub. Reports suggest River Phoenix became agitated after taking a large amount of cocaine in the night club. Rumours suggest he had been taking a lot of drugs prior to the cocaine, which consisted of heroin and benzodiazepines. River Phoenix decided to leave the nightclub whilst still conscious, however upon leaving he collapsed and went into a seizure. The deadly mix of drugs took its toll on the 23-year-old and he was unable to be resuscitated.
He died very shortly afterwards in hospital from an over-dose.
What was more shocking at the time was the stark contrast of the image River Phoenix presented, he was once called the “The vegan James Dean”, playing on the image that “hippy values” were in some way wholesome or decent. Underneath that image was a desperately sick no-limits self-indulgent culture that incubated a reckless attitude towards substances that have grave consequences.
Whilst mixing powerful drugs like heroin and cocaine might seem completely insane to a normal person, it’s unfortunately something I see in my job frequently – especially for those reaching the latter stages of their addiction.
Mixing cocaine and heroin is often called “Speedballing”, the two drugs interact with each other to reach an equilibrium and give a maximum hit to the user. However, the mix is potentially very dangerous, users risk giving themselves permanent heart damage or killing themselves in the process.