Tom Petty Is The Latest In A Frightening Line Of Celebrity Deaths Linked To Fentanyl Overdose

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After Prince, Lil Peep & Dolores O'Riordan, Tom Petty Is The 4th Celebrity Death Linked To Opioid Fentanyl Overdose
Buzz, Heartbreak

It's a growing national epidemic of truly harrowing proportions.

We live in a culture well aware that rock stars have higher than average, to say the least, tendencies toward addiction and untimely deaths, particularly as resulting from either drug and/or alcohol overdose or suicide. We chalk it up to their glamorously wild and extreme lifestyle. Live fast, die young.

Tragic as those deaths may be, a far more frightening trend is emerging.

The autopsy performed on legendary musician Tom Petty shows his cause of death was an accidental overdose resulting from taking a variety of medications, including fentanyl, making him the fourth musician in the last year and a half — after Prince, Lil' Peep and Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries — whose unnecessary death is linked to an accidental opioid overdose.

 

RELATED: If We Do One Thing To Honor Prince, It Should Be Stopping The 'Kill Pill'

 

Petty's wife Dana, 53, and oldest daughter Adria, 43, posted the following message on Petty's fan website:

"Our family sat together this morning with the medical examiner — coroner's office and we were informed of their final analysis that Tom Petty passed away due to an accidental drug overdose as a result of taking a variety of medications.

Unfortunately, Tom's body suffered from many serious ailments including emphysema, knee problems and most significantly a fractured hip.

Despite this painful injury he insisted on keeping his commitment to his fans and he toured for 53 dates with a fractures hip and, as he did, it worsened to a more serious injury.

On the day he died he was informed his hip had graduated to a full break and it is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his over use use of medication,;

We knew before the report was shared with us that he was prescribed various pain medications for a multitude of issues including fentanyl patches and we feel confident that this was, as the coroner found, an unfortunate accident.

As a family we recognize this report may spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis and we feel that it is a healthy and necessary discussion and we hope in some way this report can save lives. Many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications.

On a positive note we now know for certain he went painlessly and beautifully exhausted after doing what he loved most, for one last time, performing live with his unmatchable rock band for his loyal fans on the biggest tour of his 40 plus year career. He was extremely proud of that achievement in the days before he passed.

We continue to mourn with you and marvel at Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers incredible positive impact on music and the world. And we thank you all for your love and support over the last months.

Thank you also for respecting the memory of a man who was truly great during his time on this planet both publicly and privately.;

We would be grateful if you could respect the privacy of the entire Heartbreaker family during this difficult time.

Dana Petty and Adria Petty"

 

RELATED: Spokesperson Confirms Tom Petty Dead At 66 — Sad Details About Why The Iconic Musician Was Taken Off Life Support

 

When Petty passed away on October 2, 2017, at the age of 66, reports suggested the most likely cause of his sudden death was cardiac arrest. Now, however, the coroners report revealed that the following drugs were found in his system at the time of his passing: "fentanyl, oxycodone, acetyl fentanyl and despropionyl fentanyl, which are opioids; temazepam and alprazolam, which are sedatives; and citalopram, an antidepressant."

Rock stars like Petty may be at an understandably increased risk of an accidental overdose on opioids.

While yes, Petty, Prince, Lil' Peep and O'Riordan all had past or ongoing issues with addiction (Petty is believed to have been sober since the late 90s), life on the road and pain from the physical strain of it all led the older three (as well as Michael Jackson, who also died from a prescribed does of fentanyl in 2009) to seek relief via medication prescribed by their personal physicians. And while Lil' Peep, was only 21 and fairly new to the touring scene when he died, it is believed that while he believed that the drug he was willing consuming on the night of November 15, 2017, was Xanax, it turned out to be an increasingly popular street version known as "fake" Xanax, i.e., Xanax laced with fentanyl.

But heartbreakingly, world class music legends are far from the only demographic being lost to what is being referred to by many as the "kill pill."

 

RELATED: Video Of Lil Peep's Death Circulates On Social Media As People Claim The Soundcloud Rapper Was Given 'Fake' Xanax Laced With Fentanyl

 

In the past three years alone, the number of fentanyl-related deaths across the U.S. has increased by 540 percent.

In December of 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report indicating that nearly 64,000 people died of a drug overdose in 2016, and that of those, "adults aged 25–34, 35–44, and 45–54 had the highest rates of drug overdose death."

According to the New York Times:

"Drug overdoses are expected to remain the leading cause of death for Americans under 50, as synthetic opioids — primarily fentanyl and its analogues — continue to push the death count higher. Drug deaths involving fentanyl more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, accompanied by an upturn in deaths involving cocaine and methamphetamine. Together they add up to an epidemic of drug overdoses that is killing people at a faster rate than the H.I.V. epidemic at its peak."

And as though these numbers weren't shocking enough, the same article notes that "deaths involving synthetic opioids, mostly fentanyls, have risen to more than 20,000 from 3,000 in just three years."

In October 2017, President Donald Trump directed the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the issue a public health emergency, yet while the declaration of a national crisis will make some minor resources available, "His directive does not on its own release any additional funds to deal with a drug crisis that claimed more than 59,000 lives in 2016, and the president did not request any... To combat the epidemic, the president said the government would produce 'really tough, really big, really great advertising' aimed at persuading Americans not to start using opioids in the first place, seeming to hark back to the 'Just Say No' antidrug campaign led by Nancy Reagan in the 1980s."

 

We join with Petty's family in the hope that his death will increase awareness around the devastating problem before the death toll continues to rise exponentially.

RELATED: Did Dolores O’Riordan Commit Suicide? New Details About Report The Cranberries Lead Singer Died Of Fentanyl Poisoning

If you, or someone you love has become addicted to fentanyl, there's still time to get help before it's too late.

You can contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357), a free and confidential service available 24-hours-a-day, 365-day-a-year for treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental health issues and/or substance use disorders.

Senior Editor and happily-former divorce coach/mediator Arianna Jeret is a recognized expert on love, sex, and relationships (except when it comes to her own life, of course) who has been featured in Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Yahoo Style, Fox News, Bustle, Parents and more. Join her Sundays at 10:20 PM EST for answers to ALL of your questions on Facebook Live ;on YourTango and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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