Public must educate themselves regarding universal impacts of fentanyl, drug abuse

Thursday March 7 marks the six-month anniversary of rapper Mac Miller’s death. Before his accidental overdose, Miller was active on Instagram and he was set to start touring in October 2018. Things seemed okay for Miller—normal, even. 

And that’s the terrifying reality of drug abuse and addiction; it’s not always obvious. The worst day may just seem like a normal day, not much different from all the rest. 

Considering the alarming number of celebrities who have recently died from drug overdoses, society should further consider the consequences of drug use and addiction, especially when it comes to lesser-known substances like fentanyl.  

Coroners determined that Miller’s overdose was due to a mixture of cocaine, alcohol and—perhaps most frightening—fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and, according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. 

Fentanyl was originally developed as a pain management drug for cancer patients, but the strength of this opioid quickly made it a popular pairing with other drugs like heroin and cocaine. Fentanyl is commonly added to heroin or cocaine to make it stronger, oftentimes without the knowledge of the person buying it. 

Fentanyl’s strength has caused a crisis. The number of overdose deaths associated with fentanyl has risen from 3,000 to 28,000 since 2013, according to The New York Times. There was a 45 percent increase in fentanyl deaths in 2017 alone. 

The memory of Miller’s death is something that still hurts many people every day. Although Miller struggled with addiction and mental health in the past, his overdose was both accidental and unexpected. 

Things seemed to be going well for him. Musically, his recent work had reached a new level. The evolution of his sound can be heard from his earliest mixtapes released when he was 15, up until his final and Grammy nominated album, Swimming. To think that he won’t be able to continue exploring this talent and sharing it with the world is heartbreaking. 

Miller’s life was not the only one in the public eye cut short by fentanyl. Musicians Lil Peep, Tom Petty and Prince have all died fairly recently with fentanyl found in their systems. 

All of these deaths share two common terms: accidental and unexpected. It doesn’t matter the amount of fame or money you have, or the experience you have with drugs. Drug abuse doesn’t discriminate against fame, gender, income, societal norms or anything else. Anyone could fall victim. 

Just last week, there was an enormous fentanyl bust in Westchester, N.Y. The raid yielded enough of the drug to kill two million people, according to CNN. Ardsley, the area of Westchester where the raid took place, is described by CNN as a “wealthy community.” 

This should shatter any notions that the majority of drug abuse only takes place in impoverished places. It’s in cities, wealthy communities, the homes of our favorite celebrities and college campuses too. 

College campuses are infamously known for being a place where alcohol and drugs are used and experimented with. In fact, there have even been a handful of fentanyl busts within Livingston County recently. With fentanyl being an elusive and deceptive drug, there’s often no way to know when it is present in other substances before it is too late. 

There must be more awareness of what is out there. Miller’s death, among others, was a tragedy and an unfair warning. No more lives, famous and non-famous alike, should be lost to show us just how dangerous fentanyl is.