Mac Miller's cause of death has been confirmed as mixed-drug toxicity, Us Weekly reports. According to the autopsy completed by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner, Miller had a fatal mix of fentanyl, cocaine, and alcohol in his system at the time of his death. The coroner's office has categorized this as an accidental overdose, according to Us Weekly.
Sadly, several celebrity deaths — including Tom Petty and Prince — have involved fentanyl overdoses. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain medication that's many times more potent than heroin. Typically, fentanyl patches, lozenges, and injections are prescribed to treat severe pain in people who have built up a resistance to other opioids, according to the Drug Police Alliance. Illicitly-made fentanyl is often found in the form of a powder, spiked in a blotter paper, or mixed with heroin.
Since fentanyl is more potent at a lower dose than other opioids, people can easily overdose, especially if they were unaware that it was in a powder or pill, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. Recently, experts have noted a growing number of people combining fentanyl and cocaine and overdosing — but there's speculation about whether or not this is intentional, or if drug dealers are lacing drugs with fentanyl to get a new group of people into opioids.
Regardless, the number of people dying from opioid overdoses, specifically ones involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl, is alarming. A 2016 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the rate of overdose deaths from opioids increased 200% between 2000 and 2014, with an 80% increase in fatal overdoses involving fentanyl between the years 2013 and 2014. And in 2017, more than 72,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses, and nearly 30,000 were related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
What's clear from this latest news about Miller, and these statistics about opioid overdoses, is that there is a real need to address the opioid epidemic that's taking the lives of so many people in this country.
If you are struggling with substance abuse, please call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for free and confidential information.