Prince’s sudden death five weeks ago was due to an opioid overdose, according to officials in Minnesota.
The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office, which conducted Prince’s autopsy, said today (June 2) that the singer died from self-administered fentanyl, a synthetic opioid painkiller. The report was posted on the office’s twitter account. Prince was found dead at his home in Minneapolis on April 21, at the age of 57.
Prince died from an overdose of a powerful painkiller described as ‘heroin on steroids’. The 57-year-old musician was pronounced dead the morning of April 21, one day before he was scheduled to meet with a California doctor in an attempt to shed an opioid addiction. Two of his staff members — longtime friend Kirk Johnson and personal assistant Meron Bekure — found his body in a Paisley Park elevator about 9:40 a.m.
Opioids affect the part of the brain that controls breathing, and large doses can slow breathing to the point where it is fatal, Krakower said.
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Before the release of today’s autopsy findings, there were previous reports that Prince’s staff reached out to addiction specialists before the singer died, and planned to start Prince on a treatment plan for painkiller addiction, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. And some sources have reported that, a week before Prince died, he was treated for an opioid overdose after his plane made an emergency landing in Illinois.
Some people who take an opioid build up a tolerance to it and thus may feel that they need to take more and more of it to get the same “high.” But their bodies often do not adapt quickly enough to the slower rate of breathing caused by the drug, which can lead to death, Krakower said.
In addition, if people are using other drugs that also have sedating effects, such as alcohol, the risk for life-threatening breathing problems is greater.