Speculation and rumors have been spiraling regarding what killed famous musician Prince, at the age of 57, and in his own home. The autopsy report released from the Midwest Medical Examiner’s office in Ramsey, Minnesota declared that he died from a self-administered dose of fentanyl, a drug which has played a role in more than 5,500 deaths and accidental overdoses in the U.S. The news that Prince died of Opioid Overdose is shocking to many who believed he was living a life of abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
Fentanyl is the strongest opioid used for medical purposed in the U.S. According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse it is rated to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30-50 times more potent than heroin. Although, fentanyl is typically prescribed by doctors to terminally ill patients and those with extreme pain from cancer, in these situations it is highly monitored. However, with such a powerful drug there is always the possibly of it leaking into the drug trade and being sold illegally.
A new trend proves fentanyl is being mixed in with other drugs such as heroin and cocaine and is often sold to buyers who are unaware the synthetic drug has been mixed in. Others who use the drug may be unaware of how strong the drug. Other awful cases of unintentional overdose involving fentanyl, have been relapse related and users don’t realize how susceptible they are to powerful drugs once they have a lowered tolerance.
It is unclear if Prince was prescribed the fentanyl drug or if it was purchased illegally, however many have questioned whether he had recently experienced a relapse or sought any kind of treatment for addiction. The news of Prince’s death is another unfortunate example of how real the opiate and opioid drug addiction epidemic is right now and how powerful synthetic drugs such as fentanyl are.
There is also the knowledge that in the week leading up to his death his plane made an emergency landing in order to get a life-saving drug Narcan which is used to reverse the effects of an overdose and prevent overdose death. An overdose is typically a sign of a drug abuse problem and in many states when naloxone is given to stop an overdose, individuals are required to follow up with counseling. The world lost a great talent with the singers passing and an even greater person.
The only good which could come from this loss is the raised awareness about the power of opioid drugs and addiction. In particular, there is a need for spreading awareness about synthetic opiates and opioid such as fentanyl which can often be laced into other drugs.
Individuals who are prescribed pain killers or medications for anxiety often don’t realize the budding dependency. This then leads to misuse and according to statistics from the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 80% of individuals addicted to prescription medications will begin using heroin or other more powerful opioids. Prince had been prescribed pain killers according to officials and it is possible that he like many other developed a tolerance to them which made him seek out stronger drugs like fentanyl. This is too often the case in overdose deaths.
On March 18th, 2015 the U.S Drug Enforcement Agency issued a nationwide alert warning the dangers of Fentanyl and the alarming threat the drug posed to public health and safety. Communities are seeing the effects of the prescription drug and heroin epidemic with increased ER visits, deaths of childhood friends and family members as well as increased trafficking violations occurring. We know that no one is immune to addiction and with the passing of another famous idol we know celebrities too, are just as susceptible to dependency when prescribed controlled substances.
According to the Center for Disease Control, as many as 1 in 4 people who receive prescription opioids for long term non-cancer related pain in primary care settings, struggles with addiction. Overdose rates from prescription opioids and synthetic opioids were highest among individuals aged 25 to 54 years.
If you care about someone who is struggling with drug abuse or addiction, help is available. Supportive substance abuse counselors are waiting 24/7 to provide assistance to those in need of counseling, information on getting a friend help, or to answer any questions you may have about drug abuse in general. Don’t hesitate to call now if you believe treatment could help someone you love break free from addiction.
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