Fentanyl, the drug that killed Prince

The Painkiller that Killed Prince

On April 21, 2016, Prince Rogers Nelson, singer, songwriter and cultural icon, was discovered to have overdosed in his Paisley Park studio. 6 days before this, Prince nearly died from percocet overdose, a painkiller opioid addiction that prince struggled with for years after suffering from hip problems. Initially it was assumed percocet was the cause of death. Following the autopsy, the true culprit was identified, Fentanyl. An even more powerful painkiller.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a opioid painkiller reserved by the hospitals for the most severe pain in cancer patients. Absorbed through the skin via a patch or laced on a lollipop, the substance must be highly controlled, at 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin, just a few grains of Fentanyl can be lethal

 

The Worst Drug Epidemic in  U.S. History

Prince’s tragic case is only the tip of an iceberg for this opiate. Around 2014, Illegal labs in China worked out a formula to cheaply and quickly produce Fentanyl in large quantities. It was purchased by the Mexican cartel and floods into existing distribution channels for Heroin in United States, compounding to the drug crisis. It’s cheap and easy to make, and moves very quickly. Just one kilo of Fentanyl can be stretched to 25 kilograms and make close to a million dollars. Compare that to just two hundred thousand of for a kilo of heroin.

Visually, there is no way to distinguish between heroin and fentanyl. The dealer and users often do not know what they are selling or buying. Up to 50% of heroin samples tested positive for fentanyl. Even dust of this substance can be lethal, and with so much of it flooding the streets, nearly 2 out of 3 cases of overdose death was caused by fentanyl in 2015.

 

Over Prescription of Opioids

Like most cases of opioid addiction, Prince’s addiction started with legal opioids prescribed by doctors. In the 6 days princes near escape of percocet overdose and the fatal fentanyl overdoses, he was spotted at a local walgreens drug store four times. Almost all heroin uses started with prescription opioids. An opioid was once reserved for cancer pain, but since the mid 90s, Oxycontin was marketed to treat any complaint of pain, this highly successful campaign lead to quadruple the rate of opioid prescriptions. This increase of prescriptions was followed by increased rates of heroin use and overdoses.

 

Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

Prolong usage of Fentanyl exposes the central nervous system to high doses of dopamine, which changes the brain over time. Once a tolerance is built up to the effects of Fentanyl, a dependency on the substance is needed to feel normal. Completely cutting out Fentanyl would not be life threatening, however it would be a very painful ordeal from the ensuing withdraw. Professional supervision during the detox can ease the process, as well as providing resources for the long term protection from relapse. For more information, visit http://elitecaretreatment.com/  

 

For mental health and healthcare resources click here: https://therapycable.com/pages/mental-health-and-healthcare-resources.html

 

 

Sources

http://www.nme.com/blogs/nme-blogs/how-did-prince-die

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/prince-hit-rehab-percocet-addiction-heavy-duty-rx-diet-article-1.2619277

http://news.sky.com/story/1715957/painkiller-that-killed-prince-on-the-rise-in-us

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbl19waROcA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEclE4-QIJo
https://www.addictioncenter.com/painkillers/fentanyl