FDA Approves Narcan For Over-The-Counter Use
Zachary Pottle ❘
The FDA has approved the sale of Narcan, the life-saving Opioid overdose reversal drug, over-the-counter, waiving prescription requirements.
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At about 1am on the morning of December 8, 2019, rapper Jarad Anthony Higgins, better known by his stage name Juice Wrld, landed in a private plane at the Midway International Airport in Chicago. Police were waiting when the flight landed, on the suspicion of the plane containing weapons and narcotics. As police searched the plane, they found 41 bags of marijuana, 6 bottles of codeine cough syrup, a .40 caliber pistol, 2 9mm pistols, and a high-capacity ammunition magazine. The plane had 10 passengers, including Higgins’ girlfriend Ally Lotti. As police searched, Higgins had a seizure and went into cardiac arrest. Lotti told police that he “takes Percocet and has a drug problem,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Narcan (Naloxone) was administered to Higgins in an attempt to reverse the effects of a narcotic overdose. However, the cause of Juice Wrld’s death was not immediately known.
Higgins temporarily woke up but was incoherent, as he was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois. He was pronounced dead at 3:14am. After an autopsy, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said they needed to conduct more testing to determine Juice Wrld’s cause of death. Many speculated Higgins had consumed drugs in an effort to hide them from police. On January 22, 2020, the Cook County medical examiner tweeted: “The Medical Examiner’s Office has determined the cause and manner of death of 21-year-old Jarad A. Higgins. Higgins died as a result of oxycodone and codeine toxicity. The manner of death is accident,” along with the handle to Higgins’ twitter account and the hashtag “#Juicewrld.”
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Higgins was born in the same city he would eventually meet his untimely fate: Chicago, Illinois. He was raised in a conservative household with one older brother. At 4 years old, Higgins learned to play the piano, followed by guitar, trumpet, and drums. His passion for music started at a young age and he began posting songs to the music sharing website SoundCloud during his sophomore year of high school. In 2017, he released his debut EP titled 999, including Billboard Hot 100 hit “Lucid Dreams.” Higgins’ notoriety rose quickly, with music topping the charts and collaborations with seasoned recording artists like Travis Scott and Ellie Goulding. In 2018 he went on tour with Nicki Minaj and had been scheduled to perform at the Rolling Loud festival before his death.
Although his music career was skyrocketing, Higgins struggled with substance abuse from a young age and throughout his life. A Los Angeles Times article states that Higgins started drinking codeine in sixth grade and took Percocet for the first time when he was 14. He also admitted to using Xanax heavily in high school. In July 2018, he said he was trying to limit his drug use, “I have a lot going for me, I recognize it’s a lot of big things, a lot of big looks. I want to be there, and you don’t have to overdose to not be there.”
The music Higgins produced was unique, fusing rock and rap music to create emotionally vulnerable emo rap. His lyrics often offered insight into his battle with addiction, frequently mentioning Xanax, Percocet, lean, and Klonopin. The collaborative song “Ain’t Livin Right” with rappers Future and Gunna contained lines like, “Perky in my brain I’m a junkie,” and “Codeine in my sippy cup. I chug it, don’t sip a lot.” In July 2019, Higgins tweeted, “Bae I’m sorry I be tweaking, you’ve put up with more than ppl know I know I be scaring you, f— Codeine I’m done.” Unfortunately, like many others who struggle with substance abuse, it can take dozens of attempts at sobriety to stick to it. Higgins may have had the intention of becoming sober, tweeting “Addiction kills all but you can overcome,” but his addiction caught up to him before he sought treatment.
Oxycodone is an opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain. Some common brand names are OxyContin, Percodan, and Percocet. It is highly addictive and a contributor to the current opioid epidemic in America. When someone takes Oxycodone, the drug triggers a rush of dopamine in the brain, providing a euphoric high and giving feelings of relaxation, happiness, and drowsiness. Many people develop a tolerance and must increase their dosage to get the same effects, leading to an addiction. When too much of the drug is consumed and the user’s body cannot process it, they may experience nausea and vomiting, low blood pressure, seizures, blue lips and fingernails, muscle damage, coma, and difficulty breathing. An overdose can be deadly and anyone struggling with an Oxycodone addiction should seek treatment immediately.
Codeine is a prescription pain medication that is also used to reduce coughs. It is usually consumed in a liquid form but is also found as a tablet or capsule. Codeine is addictive and may be habit-forming when it is taken as prescribed. Abusing codeine is dangerous and can cause overdose. When codeine is abused, it is combined with soda, hard candy, and sometimes alcohol to create the drink called lean. Lean is also called purple drank and sizzurp. It is a common reference in hip hop music, with artists like Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, and Mac Miller all being known users of the drug.
Users drink lean for the euphoric and sedative effects. High doses can produce unpleasant side effects, like itchy skin, severe constipation, dizziness, hallucinations, seizures, and loss of consciousness. Adding alcohol can cause trouble breathing and increases the chance of overdose. When lean is combined with other drugs, like narcotics, it can intensify and prolong the effects of the drug and lead to overdose and death. Long term effects include liver damage, brain lesions, epilepsy, and severe addiction. Codeine should never be used outside of its prescribed use by a doctor, and anyone taking it should be careful and aware of its addictive properties.
Hayley Hudson is the Director of Content at Addiction Center. She earned a B.A. in Communications from the University of Central Florida and has over 7 years of professional writing experience.