On Friday, the family of internationally renowned rock-and-roll star Tom Petty announced that a mixed drug toxicity overdose took his life last year. Petty, who had recently wrapped up his final tour with his Heartbreakers band, was found unconscious in his Malibu home at the beginning of October. He died several hours later.
The Risk Of Mixed Drug Toxicity Overdose
According to his wife and daughter Dana and Adria Petty, the musician had been coping with several “serious ailments” during the months preceding his overdose death. He had been diagnosed with emphysema and coronary artery atherosclerosis, one of the most common heart ailments in the United States. In addition to these long-term issues, Petty had recently fractured his hip. These medical conditions had constantly disrupted his nationwide tour, and he had been prescribed several opioid medications to deal with their effects.
“Despite this painful injury, he insisted on keeping his commitment to his fans and he toured for 53 dates with a fractured hip,” Petty’s family said. “It is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his over use of medication.”
Petty’s heart condition may have been the reason why the combination of drugs proved so fatal. According to the medical examiner’s report, Petty’s system contained a lethal combination of several drugs at the time of his mixed drug toxicity overdose. He had consumed several opioids, including oxycodone, acetyl fentanyl, and despropionyl fentanyl, as well as sedatives temazepam and alprazolam and an antidepressant called citalopram. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was “multisystem organ failure due to resuscitated cardiopulmonary arrest due to mixed drug toxicity.”
A Lifelong Struggle With Addiction
Like many people who cope with a drug problem, Petty had never intended to become addicted to opioids like fentanyl. But in the 1990s, after the stresses of life on the road and a contentious divorce had taken their toll, Petty developed a serious heroin addiction. “Using heroin went against my grain,” Petty was quoted as saying in Warren Zanes’ book Petty: The Biography. “I didn’t want to be enslaved to anything. So I was always trying to figure out how to do less, and then that wouldn’t work. Tried to go cold turkey, and that wouldn’t work.”,
Petty was not alone in his continuous struggle with the drug. Current research shows that, in many cases, opioid addiction starts after accidental over use of prescription medication. Stories of celebrity addiction have dominated headlines in recent years, from Motley Crue frontman Nikki Sixx’s statement about his heroin addiction to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s shocking overdose death.
In their statement, Dana and Adria also drew attention to the growing problem of opioid overprescription and mixed drug toxicity overdose. “As a family we recognize this report may spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis and we feel that it is a healthy and necessary discussion and we hope in some way this report can save lives,” they wrote. “Many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications.”
The Pettys’ words echo the many public health experts and government officials who have been warning Americans about the opioid crisis. Last year, President Trump made headlines by naming the opioid crisis a national emergency, although some experts worry that not enough is being done to combat risks like mixed drug toxicity overdose. If you know someone who is struggling to overcome an opioid addiction, there is help available. The experts at CARUS Recovery are always available to discuss your options. Call us at 877-225-7724 to learn more about our programs and services.