D.A.R.E. Press Release: Prince’s Cause Of Death A Warning To Parents
Rock Star’s death due to accidental overdose of Fentanyl, a drug 25-50 times more potent than heroin and blamed for spike in overdose deaths
Prince, world famous songwriter, singer, producer, and consummate showman died at just 57 years of age. Toxicology tests for Prince released last week concluded that the entertainer died from an accidental overdose of the opioid Fentanyl, according to a report by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office.
While it has yet to be determined whether or not Prince was self-medicating with a doctor’s prescription, one fact is known – Fentanyl is an extremely powerful and potentially dangerous drug prescribed cautiously by doctors. It’s 25 to 50 times more potent than heroin, 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and typically prescribed only for cancer patients already on painkillers but experiencing “breakthrough” pain — pain that flares up even with routine pain medication.
Since 2014, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has encountered a dangerous trend – the convergence of the growing synthetic drug threat with the epidemic of opioid abuse currently affecting our nation. In this case, the consequences are deadly when clandestinely-manufactured Fentanyl and Fentanyl derivatives are being added to heroin or replacing heroin altogether on the street.
Possibly fueled by celebrity deaths related to opioid abuse, the media has recently focused increased attention upon the abuse of opioids. Infrequently reported, however, are the positive achievements of interdiction, intervention, apprehension, and, in particular, prevention efforts such as those championed by D.A.R.E. which has been a leader in prescription/over the counter drug abuse education. As reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Despite the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic, past-year prescription opioid misuse (reported in the survey as ‘narcotics other than heroin’) continued to decline and heroin use is at the lowest rate since the MTF survey began¹.” While this progress offers encouragement, D.A.R.E. considers any level of opioid abuse to be excessive.
According to the DEA, Fentanyl is blamed for a spike in overdose deaths in the United States. The illicit market for prescription drugs is considerable in size, which significantly increases the risk that Fentanyl or Fentanyl derivative-laced counterfeit pills will cause more overdoses as they are more readily produced by drug trafficking organizations.
The consequences of Fentanyl misuse are often fatal and occur amongst a diverse user base. In late March and early April 2016, the DEA issued a public safety alert for the Sacramento, California region following an outbreak of overdoses related to counterfeit hydrocodone which had been laced with Fentanyl. In all, 52 individuals overdosed with 14 of those ultimately losing their lives.
According to D.E.A. testimony presented before the U.S. Congress, “In 2014, over 4.3 million Americans age 12 or older reported using prescription pain relievers non-medically within the past month. This makes non-medical prescription opioid use more common than use of any category of illicit drug in the United States except for marijuana. The illicit market for prescription drugs is considerable in size, which significantly increases the risk that Fentanyl or Fentanyl derivative-laced counterfeit pills will cause more overdoses across the nation as they are more readily produced by drug trafficking organizations.”
It is imperative that parents are aware of the immediate danger of the rapidly increasing abuse of prescription drugs, in particular, Fentanyl and Acetyl Fentanyl and Fentanyl analogs, characterized as synthetic opioids. Parents should recognize the importance of disposing of unused, expired and unwanted prescription drugs in their medicine cabinets. A D.A.R.E. Parent Alert with valuable information on Fentanyl is available at http://www.dare.org/parent-alert-fentanyl-abuse/.
For immediate release
Contact: Richard Mahan 310.490.2860
Launched in 1983, D.A.R.E. is a comprehensive K-12 education program taught in thousands of schools throughout America, as well as in 52 other countries. D.A.R.E.’s official mission today is teaching students good decision-making skills to help them to lead safe and healthy lives.
D.A.R.E. education programs are a collaborative effort of the essential components of a community – students, parents, schools, law enforcement, and community leaders. D.A.R.E. places specially trained law enforcement officers in classrooms who deliver science and evidence-based curricula that teach students good decision-making skills that will help them lead safe and healthy lives. While D.A.R.E. curricula address drugs, it also focuses on violence, bullying, internet safety, and other high risk circumstances that could be a part of the daily life of students.
D.A.R.E.’s newest middle school curriculum, keepin’ it REAL (kiR), has gone through rigorous longitudinal scientific evaluation and has been established as an evidence-based program http://legacy.nreppadmin.net/ViewIntervention.aspx?id=133).
Among the many positive outcomes, studies have evidenced students completing the kiR program to demonstrate:
- 32%-44% reduction in marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol use
- 30%-38% increase in knowledge about and negative attitudes towards drug use
- 29%-34% decrease in intent to accept offers to use substances