Many Americans were devastated to hear about the passing of Mac Miller in early September. The rapper’s loved ones, celebrity friends, old and new fans all mourned his death and continued to pay tribute by listening to his albums, posting on social media, and holding a memorial concert. The media speculated over his premature death for weeks; was it a heroin overdose, was he depressed, some even blamed his ex-girlfriend for his death, until finally a little over a month later America got an answer.
Miller’s death was caused by a deadly mix of fentanyl, cocaine and alcohol.
Confusion sparked. The media continued to speculate. His friends continued to mourn. The question remained, did he know there would be opioids, like fentanyl, mixed in his cocaine?
Americans know there is an opioid crisis going on, and many know that fentanyl is commonly used to cut heroin since it is cheaper and 50 times stronger- what Americans don’t know is that fentanyl has been popping up in cocaine at alarming rates since 2016.
Fentanyl was found in 22% of cocaine overdose deaths nationwide.
Mixing a stimulant, such as cocaine, and a depressant, such as fentanyl or heroin, is called speed balling. It is unclear if the person using the cocaine is aware that it is laced with fentanyl, in an attempt to speed ball, or if it is completely unintentional.
Information collected from the family members of those struggling with cocaine addiction, EMTs, police officers, physicians and crisis response team members, leads researchers to believe that these overdose deaths are a result of accidental contamination.
Many people addicted to cocaine have no intention of using heroin, let alone fentanyl. This means that these people have no idea their cocaine is laced, and have no tolerance to opioids, which puts them at greater risk for overdose and death.
Many researchers believe that street level drug dealers might be accidentally cross contaminating heroin and cocaine by weighing their drugs on scales and not cleaning them thoroughly after. Others have gone on to argue that dealers are trying to stretch their product by adding a cheap filler, like fentanyl, to an expensive drug, like cocaine. Some people even believe this goes far beyond street level drug dealers cutting their cocaine to make an extra buck. A growing number of law enforcement agents, doctors, recovery providers, and drug users argue for malicious intent. They speculate that cartel leaders are using cocaine to expand the market of people addicted to opioids.
Whatever the case is, people are dying at record numbers from this deadly combination. In states, such as Massachusetts, New York, Maryland and Tennessee, where there have been spikes of fentanyl laced cocaine deaths, money has been poured into different prevention efforts. For example, Massachusetts began sending teams of volunteers into areas were cocaine use is more common, such as local bars, to warn cocaine users of the high risk of fentanyl contamination and overdose.
Hearing about celebrities like Mac Miller brings the harrowing reality of the drug epidemic to light. Hundreds of thousands of Americas struggle with addiction. Overdose death is preventable when you speak up and ask for help. Choose recovery, save your life.