When singer Prince was found unresponsive in an elevator on April 21st, 2016, data released 6 weeks after his death showed that he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl – a synthetic opioid that has been shown to be 10 times more powerful than heroin, and 80 times more powerful than morphine. As stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), fentanyl has been offered as a prescription mainly for anesthesia or treating post-surgical pain, but illicitly manufactured versions have been majorly responsible for tripling the overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids in just 2 years. NBC News recently covered a toxicology report that showed just how much of this illegal substance was in Prince’s system the night of his tragic death.
The report states that the concentration of fentanyl in Prince’s blood was 67.8 micrograms per liter – other reports have documented that fatalities ranging from 3 to 58 micrograms per liter of blood. Dr. Nelson, chairman of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School told NBC News, “The amount in his blood is exceedingly high, even for someone who is a chronic pain patient on fentanyl patches.” Fentanyl is deadly because it reduces the perception of pain by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, often causing feelings of extreme euphoria and relaxation; overdose of this drug can bring about difficulty swallowing, extreme fatigue, dizziness and fainting, cardiac arrest, severe confusion, and more. Prince’s toxicology report also showed that fentanyl was in his stomach, suggesting that he took the drug orally.
Fentanyl abuse can increase damage due to significantly decreased oxygen in the body tissues; Prince showed levels of fentanyl at 450 micrograms per kilogram in his liver, with the report stating that over 69 micrograms per kilogram is often linked to overdose or fatality case. Many opioids are metabolized in the liver, making this large amount extremely deadly. Investigators are currently looking more into the sources of drugs obtained by Prince to see if there are any links to his death.
If you’ve been struggling with opioid addiction, make the choice to seek help today. Recovery is still possible, and you can begin taking steps to take back control over your life now.
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