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2nd anniversary of Prince's death is a reminder of the dangers of fentanyl

Posted at 6:44 PM, Apr 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-20 18:44:30-04

Saturday marks the second anniversary of the death of pop star Prince from an overdose of fentanyl. Investigators concluded this week that they are unable to file criminal charges, because they can't track down the person who supplied it. But while the case is no longer active, it serves as a reminder of the harmful effects of the powerful drug.

Prince overdosed on pills that he apparently believed were Vidodin, but were actually laced with a massive amount of fentanyl. 

"While Prince's situation was tragic, it's not unique," said Brenda Iliff, executive director of the Hazelden Betty Ford addiction treatment center in Naples. "We hear about it a lot."

She said people who overdose on fentanyl often have no idea that it's disguised or sold as another drug.

"I'm guessing Prince had no idea that fentanyl was in there," Iliff said. "That's one of the dangers. It increases the high, but you don't know what's in there. So thus the risk of overdose."

She said part of fentanyl's danger is in its strong addiction potential.

The opioid epidemic sweeping the U.S. has prompted many doctors to stop prescribing opioids, which could be a gateway drug to fentanyl. In 2017, opioid prescriptions dropped 12% from 2016.

"The reduction in prescriptions is really going to help in the long run, but we've still got a mess to clean up as a society," Iliff said.

Still, she said that at least one Southwest Florida patient - who has been off of opioids for eight years - is proof that there is hope for recovery.

"She's gotten married in those eight years, has a great job, and is going to be adopting a couple of kids," Iliff said. "(It's a) beautiful story...there's a lot of those type of stories."