Fen­tanyl in­creas­ingly found in street drugs

Deadly opi­oid con­trib­uted to Mac Miller’s death

Marysville Appeal-Democrat - - FORUM / STATE / DEAR ABBY FORUM - Los An­ge­les Times (TNS)

Mac Miller per­forms on day three of the Okee­chobee Mu­sic and Arts Fes­ti­val on March 5, 2016 in Okee­chobee, Fla. Miller was found dead in his home on Sept. 7 of an ap­par­ent over­dose of a lethal com­bi­na­tion of al­co­hol and drugs.

LOS AN­GE­LES – Ex­actly how mu­sic pro­ducer and rap­per Mac Miller over­dosed on a lethal com­bi­na­tion of al­co­hol and drugs in his Stu­dio City home in Septem­ber may for­ever re­main a mys­tery, but his death un­der­scores the dan­gers of a deadly opi­oid that’s ris­ing in pop­u­lar­ity.

Miller, 26, whose real name was Mal­colm James Mccormick, was found un­re­spon­sive in­side his Val­l­ey­crest Drive home on Sept. 7. Miller’s as­sis­tant, who dis­cov­ered the rap­per’s body, said he was kneel­ing on his bed with his face rest­ing on his knees in a “pray­ing po­si­tion.” He was pro­nounced dead at the scene by paramedics, ac­cord­ing to an au­topsy re­port re­leased this week.

Miller’s tox­i­col­ogy tests showed that the rap­per, known for hits like “Don­ald Trump,” “Self Care” and “Pro­grams,” over­dosed on a mix­ture of al­co­hol, co­caine and fen­tanyl, a lethal sub­stance 50 times stronger than heroin that is some­times mixed into other opi­oids to pro­duce a stronger high.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors found an empty bot­tle of liquor on the night­stand and an­other in­side the home’s record­ing stu­dio. A small bag with a white pow­dery sub­stance was found on a ta­ble in the stu­dio, along with an ipad that ap­peared to have pow­der residue on it. An­other bag with white pow­der and loose pills was dis­cov­ered in­side a pocket of one of Miller’s coats, and a rolled $20 bill with white residue on it was in the pocket of his shorts, the re­port states.

Los An­ge­les County coro­ner’s spokes­woman Sarah Ardalani said the of­fice “can’t say with cer­tainty” how Miller took fen­tanyl or whether it was in the same source as the co­caine.

How­ever, ex­perts say fen­tanyl – a white pow­dery sub­stance – is in­creas­ingly show­ing up in drugs like co­caine and metham­phetamine in Cal­i­for­nia.

Fen­tanyl has been pre­scribed as a painkiller for can­cer pa­tients since the 1960s. But an il­licit ver­sion is be­ing man­u­fac­tured and can be eas­ily mixed with other drugs with­out be­ing no­ticed. Fen­tanyl deaths in Cal­i­for­nia tripled be­tween 2016 and 2017, ac­cord­ing to the state health de­part­ment.

Ex­perts are un­sure whether deal­ers are pur­posely or ac­ci­den­tally taint­ing drugs with fen­tanyl but say it’s a con­cern re­gard­less.

“We need to think of fen­tanyl be­ing used with a wide range of drugs,” Jane C. Maxwell, a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas at Austin who stud­ies sub­stance abuse, told The Times in May. “We’re so con­cerned about heroin and fen­tanyl, peo­ple aren’t re­ally look­ing at other uses of fen­tanyl and other prob­lems that might oc­cur.”

Miller had a long his­tory of drug and al­co­hol is­sues.

His as­sis­tant told au­thor­i­ties the rap­per was known to drink to ex­cess, use co­caine and take non­pre­scribed med­i­ca­tions such as Xanax.

“He said that (Miller) strug­gles with so­bri­ety and when he slips he con­sumes them in ex­cess,” ac­cord­ing to the au­topsy re­port.

Shortly af­ter his pub­lic split with singer Ar­i­ana Grande in May, Miller crashed his Mercedes­benz G-class SUV into a pole. The singer and two pas­sen­gers fled the scene in the San Fer­nando Val­ley, but he later was ar­rested and charged with driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence.

Miller’s strug­gles had played out in the tabloids, par­tic­u­larly his re­la­tion­ship with Grande. He also pushed back against con­cerns over his drug use in an Au­gust in­ter­view with Rolling Stone.

“If a bunch of peo­ple think I am a huge drug ad­dict, OK. Cool. What can I re­ally do?” he told the mag­a­zine. “Have I done drugs? Yeah. But am I a drug ad­dict? No.”

In an in­ter­view with Vul­ture, he said he tried not to worry about the head­lines about him and what oth­ers think.

“It just seems ex­haust­ing to al­ways be bat­tling some­thing ... to al­ways be bat­tling for what you think your im­age is sup­posed to be. You’re never go­ing to be able to get any­thing across. It’s never gonna be the real ... No one’s gonna ever re­ally know me,” he said.

In his last In­sta­gram story be­fore his death, Miller posted a video of a record player spin­ning “So It Goes,” the last track on his fifth stu­dio al­bum, “Swim­ming.” The song in­cludes the lyric “Nine lives, never die ... I’m still get­tin’ high.”

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