In recent times there has been an influx in the number of celebrities who have died from an accidental overdose death. However, celebrity overdose for years has remained an issue. Drug and Alcohol use affects people of all different walks of life from the insanely rich to those in poverty. It is seen across all ethnic groups and both genders. To be a celebrity, or from one class over the other does not protect a person from becoming addicted to drugs. The difference is that celebrity deaths dominate the headlines, and almost instantly after their death an article is published, and the information is released to the public.
Celebrities That Have Died from Accidental Overdoses
Since 2000, we have lost numerous celebrities which included singers, songwriters, musicians, athletes, and actors. Such famous names include, Christopher Antley, Darrell Porter, John Entwistle, Douglas Colvin, Dee Romone, Elisa Bridges, Howie Epstein, Steven Bechler, Eddie Guerrero, George best, Ike Turner, Anna Nicole Smith, Chris Mainwaring, Scott Charles Bigelow, Christopher Bowman, Billy Mays, Michael Jackson, Umaga, Andy Irons, Amy Winehouse, Derek Boogaard, Michael Baze, Whitney Houston, Jeff Hanneman, Chris Kelly, Cory Monteith, Joan Rivers, Scott Weiland, Prince Nelson, Lil Peep and Tom Petty just to name a few. Of the deaths mentioned about 50% of them are related to Prescription drugs such as fentanyl, benzodiazepines, oxymorphone, and oxycodone. Also, among celebrity deaths is a persistent problem of polydrug use which leads to a heightened risk of death for many users.
Why do Celebrities Use Drugs?
Celebrities like everyone are faced with numerous problems and are not immune to drug use. In fact, celebrities are in high-stress careers because everyone is watching. On top of that many have the funds to support an ongoing addiction under the scenes of their fame which further contributes to continued use to the point of overdose. In addition to that, Celebrities are not shielded from mental illness. For example, regardless of the fame and lifestyle of Chester Bennington, his mental illness was the ultimate cause for his death. Bennington suffered from severe depression and suicidal ideation for years. He would use different drugs as a means of self-medicating, and in order to numb the unwanted feelings. Celebrities and people alike often struggle with a dual diagnosis and utilize substances as a way of dealing with underlying mental health issues. The cycle becomes vicious, and often times leads to death.
Tom Petty’s Accidental Overdose Death
In the forefront of the headlines, this week is famous singer/songwriter Tom Petty’s autopsy release. The medical examiner’s news release said the autopsy found fentanyl, oxycodone, acetyl fentanyl and despropionyl fentanyl, which are opioids; temazepam and alprazolam, which are sedatives; and citalopram, an antidepressant is Petty’s system. As stated by CNN, The cause of death was “multisystem organ failure due to resuscitated cardiopulmonary arrest due to mixed drug toxicity”. With the opioid epidemic at hand, Petty’s death further emphasizes the crisis that we are currently in. In an article from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention it states that “Opioids including prescription opioids, heroin and fentanyl killed more than 42,000 people in 2016, more than any year on record. They continue to state that 40% of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid and that in 2016, 40% of all opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid”. As seen in the case of Tom Petty prescription opioids have a deadly consequence.
Celebrity Deaths Due to Overdose from Poly Drug Use
A major contributor to celebrity overdose deaths is Poly Drug Use. Many use more than one substance, and in combinations. The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs states that “Many heroin or narcotic/opioid overdoses happen when someone takes other depressant drugs, including alcohol, along with heroin or another opioid. Mixing benzodiazepines, which are also depressants, with opiates also greatly increases the potential for overdose. Taking stimulant drugs with opiates can mask the effects of the depressant drug and/or reduce the body’s ability to metabolize, or process, the drug, which also increases the risk for overdose”. As mentioned previously, the death of Tom petty was due to mixed drug toxicology. Similarly, findings from the toxicology report of Whitney Houston indicated multiple substances which included, Cocaine, marijuana, Xanax, Flexeril, and Benadryl. In Philip Hoffman’s case, coroners found heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines, and amphetamine in his body. The combination of narcotic drugs and prescription drugs can have deadly consequences. In fact, findings from a study conducted by The National Drug Early Warning System found that, “ nearly all fentanyl-involved overdose deaths in the state also involved another drug—and that 20% of people who died of an overdose involving fentanyl had 10 or more drugs in their system”. In addition to that, In 2012, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published the outcomes of emergency room visits by people who had run into problems while they were abusing drugs and alcohol. The report indicated that people who are using multiple drugs are more likely to be hospitalized than those who are not.
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