The death of Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller on Friday left many fans shocked and grief-stricken.
Having been only 19 years old when he released his first album in 2011, many fans expressed on social media that they felt as if they’d grown up with him and were better able to relate to the messages in his music, making his passing at only 26 years old even more difficult to cope with.
While the official cause of his death has not been released, many sources have claimed that it was due to an “apparent drug overdose.”
Miller was always candid about how he used drugs to cope with his mental illness in interviews, as well as in his music.
After Miller’s death, many people took to social media, lamenting over the next celebrity to succumb to drug use.
But what about the thousands of “normal” people who fall victim to their drug habits every day?
Since 2002, the national rate of drug overdose deaths has increased by 79 percent, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Indiana County alone, there have been 10 reported deaths by drug overdose this year.
While many people still believe that addiction is purely a choice not to get clean, science continues to say otherwise.
Addiction is a “chronic disease” caused by the repeated use of drugs which rewires the brain’s “reward circuit,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The changes made in the brain by drugs are long-lasting and leave even users who have been recovered for years at a high risk of relapse.
Consistent drug use causes tolerance, making it harder to reach the same high from the same dose.
This is often what leads to overdose.
Not only that, but the floods of dopamine that drugs send to the brain make it difficult for users to get pleasure from everyday things they used to enjoy.
Many people also often fail to realize that a significant number of drug users don’t just do drugs because they’re “fun,” but because they need an escape, whether it be from issues going on in their lives or in their own heads.
The stigma surrounding drug addiction continues to make it difficult for those afflicted to reach out for help. Addicts fear being judged or labeled as simply “junkies” who don’t deserve help.
But they do need help. Most addicts require constant treatment through medication and behavioral therapy to ensure a recovery that lasts. Willpower alone is unlikely to ever be enough to overcome addiction.
Following Mac Miller’s death, many people took to social media to deem themselves as a safe person for others to come to with their problems and urged those struggling to reach out.
While this is a good first step, it’s best to remember that people who are struggling find it very difficult to reach out and don’t want to burden others with their problems.
So if you truly care, sit down with a friend who you think may need help. Be honest and sincere about your desire to help them find the best option to fight their demons.
It may seem awkward at first, but that initial awkwardness is worth it if it means helping someone you care about.
And remember: people are struggling every day, not just after a celebrity dies.