The Opiate Epidemic: How Prince’s Overdose is Helping to Raise Awareness
The tragic news of music icon Prince’s death on April 21 at the age of 57 has captivated more than just his devoted fans. According to a number of media outlets, Prince struggled with debilitating hip pain throughout his career and had surgery during the mid 2000s. On June 2, Minnesota officials released the news that Prince died from an accidental overdose of self-administered fentanyl, a type of synthetic opiate. The New York Times reports that the official confirmation of Prince’s death by opioid overdose may now expedite actions taken by Washington lawmakers including: taking steps to improve drug treatment; better controlling prescription drug distribution; and enhancing the overdose training of emergency responders.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever, approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. The CDC reports that the most recent cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose, and death in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl, which is often created with heroin and/or cocaine to increase its euphoric effects. Overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, which includes fentanyl, increased by 80 percent from 2013 to 2014. Roughly 5,500 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids other than methadone in 2014.
The National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS) Special Report: Opiates and Related Drugs Reported in NFLIS, 2009–2014 examined deaths associated with opiates and related drugs, noting that 202,157 deaths were the result of a drug poisoning or overdose between 2009 and 2013. Of these, 57 percent involved heroin and natural, semisynthetic, and synthetic opiates. Notably, reports of fentanyl increased by 259 percent from the second half of 2013 to the first half of 2014 especially in the South, Northeast, and Midwest sections of the United States.
The New York Times reported that a concerned friend of Prince had reached out to a California-based doctor who specializes in treating opioid addictions, in hopes of getting him into treatment just a couple of days before he died. If you or someone you know is dealing with similar concerns, it is critical to seek immediate help.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) says if you can’t stop taking a drug even if you want to, or if the urge to use drugs is too strong to control, even if you know the drug is causing harm, you might be addicted. People from all backgrounds and at any age can have an addition. Here are some questions to help identify risk:
- Do you think about drugs a lot?
- Did you ever try to stop or cut down on your drug usage but couldn’t?
- Have you ever thought you couldn’t fit in or have a good time without the use of drugs?
- Do you ever use drugs because you are upset or angry with other people?
- Have you ever used a drug without knowing what it was or what it would do to you?
- Have you ever taken one drug to get over the effects of another?
- Have you ever made mistakes at a job or at school because you were using drugs?
- Does the thought of running out of drugs really scare you?
- Have you ever stolen drugs or stolen to pay for drugs?
- Have you ever been arrested or in the hospital because of your drug use?
- Have you ever overdosed on drugs?
- Has using drugs hurt your relationships with other people?
If the answer to some or all of these questions is yes, the NIDA says that you might have an addiction.
The good news is there is Hope. There are tons of people who were in the same situation addicted to pain killers but made it through. We Do Recover. If you or someone you know is suffering do something. Do something now, before it’s too late. Call someone and get some advice, get into treatment or go to a meeting.
Call us at 877.843.7262 anytime, 24/7. We’re here to help.