Patton Oswalt shares the cause of wife Michelle McNamara's death

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Adderall, Xanax AND Fentanyl? Damn…


Adderall and Xanax? That’s no big deal. Adderall is frequently used to treat symptoms of ADD. Xanax can take the edge off of panic attacks or anxiety. Taking both really isn’t shocking to me and AFAIK they don’t contraindicate.

Fentanyl though - now that’s a hardcore painkiller.


I know medication saves millions of lives and greatly improves the lives of millions upon millions more. But I will do anything to avoid taking anything. It’s not that I enjoy suffering – and I admit that it’s stupid and stubborn. Stories like this scary the shit out of me.


I’m with you, that’s some Michael Jackson level craziness. And the idea that you need drugs to treat the drugs (xanax for adderall) is just mind boggling, especially for something as elective as adderall. Whether they officially “contraindicate” or not, that just violates all laws of common sense, not to mention sobriety. Hell, taking amphetamines every day all by itself is plenty crazy and taxing on the body. And fentanyl too, oof. What could possibly go wrong?

I wonder how under reported these adderall deaths are. I know a woman who was prescribed adderall and she had a stroke at 45 and is now catatonic in bed for the rest of her life. Very rough on her two kids. No one talks about the fact that she was prescribed adderall so it’s probably not even considered a statistic.


I’m crying like a baby. I can’t properly narrate what the lose of my own Wife would do to me. Be well good person, heal thyself.


We don’t know all of her medical diagnoses, so speculating on whether or not she should have been prescribed that particular mix of drugs is, well, speculation. What I do know is that Fentanyl is a very potent opioid, and it is almost certainly over prescribed in the US. Of course, almost everything is over prescribed in the US. Anyway, it’s just a tragically sad story.


Shortly after I set things in motion to come to China, I got diagnosed with asthma. At the time of my diagnosis I wasn’t prescribed anything, my asthma is apparently relatively mild. Shortly before my trip, I was prescribed an inhaler. I keep it handy, but even on days when I can definitely feel the pollution affecting my lungs, I’ve held off on using it.


I don’t see any parallels here.

Theraputic doses of these medications (Adderall and Xanax) really aren’t a big deal in typical cases. If you have ADD for instance, Adderall can be a lifesaver. Xanax can be taken as needed in small doses. Fentanyl is a serious painkiller for sure but can certainly be used for chronic pain.

MJ taking propofol as a medication on the other hand, now that’s just batshit insanity. AFAIK there’s no therapeutic dose and it’s really not used outside of general anaesthesia.

The death of Oswalt’s wife is tragic for sure but that combination of meds really isn’t that crazy or beyond the pale.


If that’s true, that’s just absolutely batshit insane.

(Not to belittle this tragedy in any way of course.)


It might not be “drugs to treat the drugs.” Comorbidity is a bitch, especially with psychiatric conditions. I say this as someone who has been diagnosed with both ADD and GAD. Guess what sorts of drugs the legit treatment for that combination of conditions can include? To take, or not to take such a combo is a complex risk assessment that must be made on an individual basis.

It’s also true that some folks use benzos to take edge off recreational stimulant use. Obviously, long term high dose stimulant use causes heart problems.

No mention in the linked article if this was a medical mistake during legit treatment, or the result of polydrug abuse. I wouldn’t assume either way.


Same here and it’s one of two main reasons I decided to tell my psych that enough of that was enough. (The other reason is that it really didn’t alleviate the worst of my executive dysfunction.). Amphetamine is no friggin’ joke and the fact that it’s a first-line treatment for ADHD shows just how few effective medications there currently are for attention and executive function disorders.


yes, me too. i hate taking anything more than asprin. this is awful… she was taking all these things obviously under the care and advice of one or more doctors. i mean, she wasn’t some addict buying stuff on the black market. i have to give props to Patton for sharing his entire life so openly about all this. maybe some good will come of it.


Hi. I’m a physician, not working in the US, and the use of Fentanyl as a painkiller is pretty unusual here (South America), usually used only by cancer patients for pain control. It’s pretty baffling to read about it being used outside a hospital/hospice environment, without the proper supervision, the life support apparatus for an emergency etc. We don’t have the lollipop, the patch, these other forms of presentation of the drug. If you talk to a “regular person”, they don’t know what Fentanyl is. Why is that? Why do US doctors prescribe so much opioids?

Also: I think Fentanyl and Xanax don’t go well together. They are both central nervous system and respiratory depressants. Should definitely be avoided together.

(I don’t mean any disrespect. I love Patton Oswalt’s work, this is a very sad, very heartbreaking story. He has helped me through some dark times and I can only hope he and his daughter find some peace and solace.)


That’s a great plan. My dad is 70 something and I don’t think he takes any meds last I talked to him.

But then when you get something like chronic pain or other issue, and your plan goes down the tubes if it is severe enough.

Something like, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”


Thanks for providing your perspective as a physician! My experiences with fentanyl have been from knowing people with cancer and for pain management after surgeries. I think other opoids are like oxycontin, oxycodone, and vicodin much more commonly prescribed for chronic pain.

In case it’s not obvious, I’m not a physician and I don’t claim any expert knowledge - just a lot of personal experiences.


The Pacific Northwest of North America, two cities in particular, have fentanyl overdose epidemics. Vancouver, Canada had nine fentanyl deaths in one day, and Seattle, US police have busted two fentanyl labs last year. Some heroin dealers like to cut their wares with acetylfentanyl.


It’s not likely that her dr. would have prescribed an 8-ball or for her pharmacist to make that mistake.

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Can we not make unfounded accusations about the deceased?


Or until they had spinal surgery.

I’m a lot more sympathetic to people taking meds for chronic pain these days.