fentanyl: an accidental overdose killed prince

music fans have been mourning (showing sadness and respect for) the passing of legendary songwriter and performer prince who died unexpectedly on april 21.  the cause of death has been reported as an accidental overdose of the painkiller fentanyl.

fans mourning prince's death
fans mourning prince’s death (robyn beck/afp/getty images)

but as dariel figueroa on uproxx.com reports

questions still abound. did he get these drugs legally? illegally? what kind of pain was he numbing? some information has trickled out.

abound means there are a lot.  pain is discomfort or suffering.  painkillers are produced to stop the pain. trickle out means the public has slowly learned the details of prince’s demise.  also notice the small difference between illegally (against the law) and legally (NOT against the law).

a cat drinking from a trinkle of water
a kitty drinking from a trickle of water (wallpaperbeta.com)

numb in this context is an action that means remove feeling.  it is a sensation that is often addressed in popular music.  pink floyd has a track titled comfortably numb, and artists including u2, usher, linkin park ft. (featuring) jay-z, nick jonas ft. angel haze and rihanna ft. eminem have songs named numb.  the chorus of this cassie vid featuring rick ross says

i make music to numb your brain

fun english practice :) richyrocks english on youtube

one of the details about prince’s death that has trickled out is that 6 days before, returning to his home in minnesota after a concert in atlanta

prince’s plane had to be grounded when the musician became unresponsive, the cause of which has been attributed to an overdose of pain medication.

ground in reference to a plane usually indicates that flying is prohibited.  in this case it means brought to the ground. many media outlets called what happened  an emergency landing.

prince playing the super bowl
prince playing at super bowl xli

figueroa explains that

addiction to fentanyl mirrors other painkiller addictions: it starts with a prescription, then users increase their dosages and/or change their ingestion methods.

mirror, used as a verb here, means they are similar. dosage is the quantity of a drug prescribed. an overdose is too much of the drug.

prince looking into a mirror
prince looking in a mirror, taking a selfie (facebook)

the article also observes

[pharmaceutical] fentanyl is very hard to get a hold of — only seen on the streets due to someone smuggling it out of a medical facility. most of the fentanyl in circulation is of the clandestine variety, and it’s almost always mixed with heroin to increase the potency of the heroin.

get a hold of means obtain. due to is the same as becuase of.  smuggle is to move something from one location to antoher undetected. clandestine is underground, not out in the open; in this instance a street version of pharmaceutical fentanyl. mix means combine.

prince on his motorcycle in 'purple rain'
‘i never meant to cause u any pain‘ from the song purple rain is one of prince’s most famous lyrics

david ng‘s story on the los angeles times website provides more info and opinion about fentanyl. in the article, addiction coach dr. cali estes suggests

think of fentanyl as legal heroin on steroids.

on steroids is a fashionable, overused expression used to say stronger or more intense. other reports say that fentanyl is 25 to 50% stronger than heroin.

heroin on steroids, aka fentanyl

estes also shares that

the way most people describe [the high is like] lying in a bed of roses, having sex and eating a cheeseburger at the same time.

i’m very skeptical that is how most people describe the feeling of being on fentanyl. probably that is a description dr. estes came up with (created) herself based on what fentanyl users have told her.

prince 1958-2016

prince is part of a trend that the u.s. government has recognized.  ng informs that 700 fentanyl related deaths were reported in 2013-14. as a result, in 2015

the drug enforcement administration identified fentanyl as a public health threat

threat means danger or risk. the article also promotes dr. david kessler‘s perspective that

it’s a wake-up call for how we view these drugs…..the most important thing is not to look at this through a lens of ‘this is bad behavior‘. we all are susceptible to these medications.

wake-up call means the public needs to pay attention and possibly change their attitudes. through a lens also refers to the position or attitude that americans take about drug use and overdoses. behavior is how people act.

looking through a lens
looking through a lens

are there issues in your country or community with addictions/overdoses involving pharmaceutical drugs? or is this a uniquely american problem? are u a fan of prince’s music?  share your opinions under leave a reply 


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