American rapper Mac Miller (born Malcolm James McCormick) died last Friday of a suspected drug overdose in his San Fernando Valley, California home. Autopsy results are still forthcoming. Unfortunately, Miller’s death wasn’t a complete shock to those closest to him. People reported that a 2016 documentary featured footage of fellow rapper French Montana warning Miller about the latter’s addiction to codeine-based cough syrup. Meanwhile, many others echoed the same concerns for the “Self-Care” rapper’s well-being. The same documentary, chillingly, includes an ominous voiceover from Miller: “Overdosing is just not cool. There’s no legendary romance. You don’t go down in history because you overdosed. You just die.” Still, in recent months, Miller’s substance abuse continued to spiral out of control. He made headlines as recently as this past May, when he was arrested with DUI and hit-and-run charges. The rapper’s funeral will be held next week in Pittsburgh, his hometown. Miller was 26.
Oxycontin Drugmaker Prepares to Sell Opioid Addiction Med
Purdue Pharma, the much-maligned drugmaker of OxyContin, announced Monday that it has patented a medicine that will help curb opioid addiction. It’s a strange, surprising twist in the overall opioid epidemic story, given that many people blame Purdue Pharma for triggering the crisis in the first place. In fact, dozens of lawsuits have been leveled at the drug manufacturer in recent months, with many of them filed by individual states. (The Massachusetts attorney general described Purdue as the mastermind of a “deadly, deceptive scheme to sell opioids.”) According to WebMD, Purdue’s new anti-addiction drug is a fast-acting form of buprenorphine, which helps reduce drug cravings. The announcement also comes on the heels of the firm’s donation of $3.4 million to the developer of an over-the-counter form of naloxone, a drug generally used to prevent overdoses.
Sia Celebrates Eight Years of Sobriety
Quirky pop star Sia revealed Tuesday that she’s celebrating eight years of sobriety. The “Chandelier” artist posted an inspiring message on her Twitter account for anyone who’s struggling with addiction: “Eight years sober today. I love you, keep going. You can do it,” she tweeted. Sia has been widely open about her past struggles with addiction, sharing that she’d regularly turned to prescription drugs and alcohol to deal with her issues. “All I wanted to do was write for pop stars. For one reason or another it never happened for me,” she told Billboard in 2013.“Then I got seriously addicted to Vicodin and Oxycodone, and I was always a drinker, but I didn’t know I was an alcoholic. I was really unhappy being an artist and I was getting sicker and sicker.”
Instagram Pop-Up Targets Opioid Addiction
Instagram has officially joined the fight against opioid abuse. When someone uses the tool’s hashtags to locate either addiction support or illegal drugs, The Verge reported, a pop-up will appear on the screen and offer drug addiction resources. “If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid or substance misuse, find ways to get free and confidential treatment referrals, as well as information about substance abuse, prevention, and recovery,” the pop-up reads. Instagram developed a number of support resources with the help of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, and the Partnership for Drug Free Kids. Until recently, drug-related hashtags on Instagram helped people buy and sell drugs. While the company eliminated obvious hashtags like “buy xanax” and blocked certain search strings, it also discovered that drug-related hashtags are double-edged swords. If the company did away with all drug-related hashtags, it could potentially prevent support communities from forming on the social media service. “This new Instagram pop-up attempts to solve some of the platform’s drug issues, even if it doesn’t address the actual substance sales,” The Verge considered. “It does at least give users a place to go if they’re searching for help.”
Rapper Bow Wow Opens up About Past Drug Addiction
Following Mac Miller’s fatal overdose last Friday, rapper Bow Wow revealed that he “almost died” from an addiction to codeine cough syrup in 2007. In a series of tweets on Sunday, the 31-year-old decided to “let something out” and proceeded to detail a devastating dependency on the cough syrup—also known as “lean.” Through his tweets, Bow Wow claimed that because of his daily lean habit, his family and fans “started to turn on me.” While touring with Chris Brown, he was hospitalized and experienced severe withdrawal symptoms. Clearly moved by Miller’s substance abuse problems and sudden death, Bow Wow implored his young Twitter followers to embrace a drug-free life and to “break the cycle” of addiction.
Apple to Unveil New Tools to Curb iPhone Addiction
When Apple releases iOS 12 next Tuesday (Sept. 18), Inc. claims the brand-new operating system will contain three key features intended to limit iPhone addiction. “Screen Time” is an awareness tool, providing detailed views into iPhone users’ daily and weekly usage. The tool also tracks how often users picked up their phones, as well as the individual lengths of time spent in any given app. However, if that tool isn’t strict enough, Inc. reported that iOS 12 empowers users to set “app limits.” When you reach your time limit for a specific app, a pop-up will tell you that you’re out of time. “Downtime” allows users to schedule time away from their iPhones. “It’s similar to the Do Not Disturb feature,” the Inc. story noted, “except in this case you will only be able to receive phone calls and use apps you’ve previously approved.”
UK: Not Enough Alcohol Treatment to Go Around
An alarming Guardian story indicated that problem drinking is currently at an all-time high in the UK. Making matters even worse is the fact that there are fewer alcohol treatment services than ever before, thanks to deep budget cuts in recent years. Figures show that 605,688 people in England were “alcohol dependent” between 2016 and 2017, while only 80,454 of those individuals actually entered into an alcohol treatment program. (That’s about one person for every seven.) “People addicted to alcohol are paying the price for this government’s cruel and reckless cuts to public health,” observed Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary. He added that addiction services are now approaching a “breaking point,” due to £550m of cuts to the UK’s public health budgets. An additional £34m will be cut in 2018-19. Meanwhile, the British Medical Association (BMA) believes that the problem isn’t in the lack of alcohol treatment; instead, it’s in the number of health problems plaguing Britons, including obesity and alcoholism. The BMA wants to take “robust action,” including minimum-unit pricing on alcohol, a tax hike on tobacco products and more limited advertising around unhealthy food.
No Such Thing as a ‘Safe Level’ of Alcohol, Study Says
The Lancet published a study Thursday showing that alcohol consumption, no matter the amount, has no positive benefits for the human body. “The results confirm that alcohol consumption is a major avoidable risk factor for noncommunicable diseases such as liver cirrhosis, some cancers and cardiovascular diseases, as well as injuries resulting from violence and road clashes and collisions,” said Dr. Carina Ferreira-Borges, who manages the Alcohol and Illicit Drugs Program for the World Health Organization (WHO). She suggests that the Lancet study is something of a bellwether, calling into question why alcohol continues to be marketed, sold and readily available, despite clear evidence that it poses health risks. The study examined “alcohol-related health outcomes and patterns” from 1990-2016 across 195 countries and territories. In 2016, nearly 3 million deaths were directly attributed to alcohol. “We now understand that alcohol is one of the major causes of death in the world today,” wrote Lancet Editor Richard Horton in a press release. “We need to act now. We need to act urgently to prevent these millions of deaths. And we can.”