Heath Ledger's dad on addiction, death, his son's last words

Kim Ledger
Kim Ledger

The father of late actor Heath Ledger spoke in Rotorua on Thursday about how to fight drug addiction and his own son's last words.

Kim Ledger provided a family's perspective on Australia's 'hidden epidemic', talking about how prescription medication misuse and overdose come about.

He began working with addiction awareness after his Oscar-winning son's tragic death in 2008.

Speaking to Newshub, Mr Ledger recalled the Dark Knight star's last moments.

"He was talking to his sister literally the night before. He said he needed to get some sleep and he was going to take a couple of Ambiens. Kate warned him, saying he shouldn't take sleeping tablets with prescription meds as you don't know what could happen," says Mr Ledger.

"He said 'Katie, Katie, I'll be fine'. And they were his last words. He was a cavalier 28-year-old and the concoction of medications put him to sleep, forever."

Mr Ledger says stress and professional demands were to blame for Heath's drug problems, but addiction can start in a number of ways and Kiwis should be aware of the dangers of pharmaceuticals.

"In New Zealand the statistics show there's less of a problem than in Australia," says Mr Ledger.

"Injury is often the reason for becoming addicted to the drugs. Whether people go out of their way over here to take them more often - because your borders are so well patrolled, you guys have less of an influx of illegal drugs. Now there seems to be a five- or six-fold increase in drugs being prescribed by doctors here."

Mr Ledger was speaking today at the Cutting Edge Addiction Conference at the Energy Events Centre in Rotorua.

Watch the full interview.