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Percocet May Have Contributed to Prince’s Death

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Prince Addiction to Percocet?

It’s been just over a year since the world-renowned pop singer Prince was found dead in his Minnesota home.  The news of his death and the manner in which it occurred came as a shock to most Americans. Along with this horrible news, were reports claiming that the legendary singer might have died from an opiate overdose. It seems that Prince was struggling with his health during the weeks just before his death. Here are the reported events leading up to that tragic day, which resulted in the loss of his life:

  • On April 7, 2016, he saw a doctor in Twin Cities, Minnesota and postponed two performances saying that he had influenza.
  • On April 14, 2016, he performed in Atlanta, but on his way home, his private jet made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois at a local hospital. Prince reportedly received Narcan (Naloxone), a life-saving drug used to prevent an opiate overdose. Prince left the hospital early despite medical advice to stay.
  • Between April 14th and April 21st, Prince gave two other performances and held a party at his home in Paisley Park.
  • On April 21st at 9:43am, the Sheriff’s office received a 911 call requesting that ambulance be sent to Prince’s home at Paisley Park. The person who made the 911 call worked for a drug rehab in California. He flew into Minnesota that morning hoping to bring Prince into his drug treatment program. He also carried with him the drug Buprenorphine (commonly used for opioid addiction), which was legally questionable for a number of reasons.

After a lengthy investigation, the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office stated that Prince had died of an accidental overdose of opioids at the age of 57.

Prince “Had an Issue with Percocet”

According to reports, Prince had been taking Percocet since 2006 to help manage pain in his ankles and hips. Reports also say that Prince continued to take Percocet (and may have developed a dependency to the drug) through 2010 when he finally had surgery on his hip. Although the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office declared that Prince overdosed on Fentanyl, it has also been stated that Prince had Percocet in his system when he died.
Percocet is a medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. It contains a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. Oxycodone is an opioid narcotic that not only relieves pain but can also give users feelings of euphoria.  Oxycodone is also known as the coal miner’s cocaine and the hillbilly’s heroin because of its strong presence in rural areas of the country.   Nonmedical opioid misuse remains a growing crisis, commonly concentrated in areas of US states with large rural populations.
Published hypotheses have shown 4 significant contributing factors that affect the opioid epidemic in rural areas:
(1) A greater opioid prescription, creating increased availability from which illegal markets can arise;
(2) an out-migration of young adults;
(3) more significant rural social network connections, which can facilitate drug diversion and distribution;
(4) the economic stressors that often creates vulnerability to drug use and addiction.

Addiction to Percocet

It’s possible that the reason Prince needed the Narcan shot on April 14, 2016 was because of an addiction to Percocet. If the legendary singer had been taking the drug since 2006 for pain, there’s a good chance he might have unintentionally developed a dependency and an addiction.
Although Percocet has the ability to relieve a person’s pain and therefore allow them to return to work and function in their life, it is highly addictive, and in Prince’s case, deadly. Over time, the use of Percocet can produce:

  • a physical and psychological dependency
  • tolerance: the need to use the drug more than prescribed
  • cravings: fantasizing and thinking about the drug when not using it
  • stimulation of the cycle of addiction in the brain; chemical dysregulation
  • an increasing focus on taking and acquiring the drug
  • neglecting personal and professional responsibilities
  • compulsive behavior associated with using the drug
  • an inability to say no to using the drug regardless of the risks

All of these symptoms indicate that addiction to Percocet may be present. Unfortunately, even if someone was prescribed Percocet and that person took their prescription according to the directions provided, there is still a chance of addiction. For instance, if a person were taking Percocet as prescribed but found themselves developing a dependency on the drug, they may eventually violate their prescription to feel more of the same effects. Over time, that person might develop a full-blown addiction.

Danger of AcetaminophenAddiction to Percocet | Waismann Method

In addition to a possible opiate addiction, Percocet can become dangerous because of the presence of acetaminophen. At high doses, acetaminophen can lead to liver toxicity. As a result, the FDA suggests guidelines for Percocet use:

  • no more than 4000mg per day
  • no more than 12 Percocet tablets (containing 325mg) per day

In addition to these guidelines, the FDA submitted a warning on June 30, 2009 about the use of Percocet and other narcotics containing acetaminophen, such as Vicodin. Research indicated that the 400 acetaminophen-related deaths in the United States each year were due to associated liver damage, and the use of medications like Percocet had contributed to the deaths.  If you’re wondering how much Percocet is too much, talk to your doctor and read your prescription information carefully.

Effects of Percocet

Sadly, because of Percocet’s ability to create euphoric states, the drug has increased in recreational use. For instance, taking the drug without a prescription or going above and beyond the directions of a doctor when taking Percocet are considered abuse of the drug. Since both heroin and oxycodone are opiates (oxycodone is a synthetic opioid), the effects of Percocet on its users are very similar to those that heroin can produce. Percocet can have the following positive and adverse effects on a person:

  • euphoria
  • relaxation
  • enjoyment
  • relief of physical pain
  • relief of anxiety
  • pupil constriction
  • slowed reaction times
  • impaired thinking
  • confusion
  • nausea
  • headaches
  • nervousness
  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • abdominal pain
  • unusual moodiness
  • tightness in the chest
  • difficulty urinating
  • rash
  • slowed and irregular breathing

Another dangerous side effect of Percocet is difficulty breathing. In fact, there may be additional, more serious side effects including rash, slow or irregular heartbeat, and stomach pain. When Percocet is taken with other medications, there may be a decrease in its effectiveness. Furthermore, there is a great danger when taking Percocet with alcohol or other drugs.

Treatment for Percocet Addiction

It takes courage, determination, and motivation to enter drug treatment. Many drug users are deterred by the fear of judgment by others, personal shame and/or afraid of failing the withdrawal process. Because of past attempts, they become apprehensive and hopeless about succeeding in drug treatment.  Knowing that there are many forms of effective and dignified drug treatment protocols (including rapid detox, and medical opioid detoxification), can make seeking help much easier.

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