Lil Peep, Fentanyl, and the Stigma of Addiction

Via @lilpeep on Instagram

Gustav Åhr, professionally know as Lil Peep, was an emo hip-hop artist who died in November 2017 from an accidental drug overdose. He had a cult-like following, as he started from the ground up and became popularized from SoundCloud. He is continuously praised as one of the biggest icons of emo, while only putting out one full album; Come Over When You’re Sober Pt. 1. He also released four mixtapes and twenty-four other stand-alone songs that inevitably put him on the map. Fans were devastated about the news of his passing, as he was only twenty-one years old. With the anniversary of his death approaching, people are still wondering what exactly happened on the night he overdosed. Others are criticizing the way he died and claiming that it could have been prevented.

Like most other rappers, Lil Peep was a recreational drug user who often flaunted it in songs and on social media. It’s assumed that he also suffered from mental illness due to his depressing lyrics and posts, he often talked about suicidal thoughts, drug abuse, and depression. It’s not a secret that mental health issues are closely related to drug abuse and addiction, which very well may have been something Lil Peep was battling. In lieu of this, Peep’s death was claimed to be accidental; meaning he didn’t purposefully try to kill himself. While there are not many credible sources revealing every detail of Peep’s death, it is known that he overdosed on Xanax before a show in Arizona. A Xanax overdose very rarely results in death, which lead to many people questioning “how exactly did this happen?” After receiving a toxicology report from the counties medical examiner, it was found that Lil Peep had traces of fentanyl in his system, which was one of the main causes of his death.

The talk about fentanyl and deaths surrounding it has been on the rise lately, but what exactly is it?

Fentanyl is known to be used for relieving severe pain, often given to patients with cancer. It is highly addictive and extremely dangerous to take in large amounts, but has also been proven to be deadly in small amounts or with other substances. It has recently been found laced into drugs such as cocaine, heroin, meth, and even marijuana. According to a New York Times article, the first case of fentanyl being mixed into other drugs was found in a lab in Mexico. Recently, there has been more and more fentanyl traced back to Mexican drug cartels, which has consequently made its way to the U.S. Knowing that fentanyl is one of the most addictive and powerful drugs out there, these dealers are putting it into other drugs so they have a large number of people coming back and getting more. Fentanyl is even becoming a more serious threat than heroin because it is cheaper and easily manufactured, which is a huge part of why it’s being sold.

People are not deliberately getting addicted or overdosing, especially when something as deadly as fentanyl is being laced into a drug such as marijuana, which is essentially harmless and has no deaths tied to it. Think of it like this: what if fentanyl was being mixed into alcohol or cigarettes? People who stigmatize addiction don’t realize what an impact fentanyl is taking on our society because it’s not an issue that affects them or is close to them. Yet, according to drugabuse.gov, there were more than 72,000 deaths due to overdose in 2017. 30,000 of these deaths were related to fentanyl.

After the news of Lil Peep’s death, some people were overly critical of the way he died; even going as far as to say that he deserved it for doing drugs in the first place. The most recent survey on drug use and health concluded that 24.6 million Americans were drug users. In a society where so many people recreationally use drugs and so many who are addicted to drugs, we must be educated on why it occurs in the first place and how to move forward.

Fentanyl is becoming an epidemic in places everywhere. Though it’s very hard to tell if a drug is cut with fentanyl, you can be prepared by owning a naloxone (often branded as Narcan) kit to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.