Last Wednesday night, news that artist Lil Peep, whose full name is Gustav, had died of a Xanax overdose sent shockwaves throughout the hip-hop community. The 21-year-old rapper was found unresponsive in his tour bus in Tucson, Arizona, before a scheduled show. Despite the attempts of first responders to save him, Gustav was pronounced dead at 8:53 p.m.
Prior to his death, Gustav had made numerous posts on social media displaying his drug addiction and depression. While tragic, Gustav’s death marks a larger trend of ignoring the victims of drug abuse and mental illness until it is too late to save them. With current rates of prescription drug addiction at epidemic levels in the United States, we must commit to the promotion of safe drug use and treatment for addicts if we wish to mitigate the amount of death associated with it.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, an estimated 64,000 people died from drug overdose, a staggering figure that has doubled within the last decade. Furthermore, about 50 Americans die each day from prescription painkiller overdoses. A Spring 2017 survey conducted by University Health Services found that 12.3 percent of UT students report using prescription drugs without a prescription in the last year alone.
These alarming statistics demonstrate the urgent need for a change in the way we talk about drug addiction in the United States. While there is no way to prevent everyone from abusing prescription drugs, we can make progress in reversing this trend by educating ourselves and promoting safe usage within our communities.