Peep the Real Drug Epidemic

Lil Peep and the Opioid Epidemic
By Erinn Kovar
IG: @erinnyvonne

As usual this morning I woke up to, give or take, about 20 text messages in my girl chat. Expecting the normal conversation in AOL Instant Messenger format, I wiped some sleep and some

leftover mascara out of my eye and opened it.

“Holy shit Lil Peep is dead.”

While I had little to no idea who Lil Peep was the subsequent conversation quickly became personal, it became haunting, to almost all of us. A family member, a friend, an old confidante, the opioid crisis is clawing its cold fingers into our lives.

Lil Peep, born Gustav Åhr, was a 21-year-old singer and rapper who gained attention and fame through his YouTube and SoundCloud channels. The up-and-coming “Emo Rapper” notably dated actress Bella Thorne for a period of time and was recently on tour promoting his debut album Come Over When You’re Sober.

Photo via @lilpeep.

His drug use was regularly referenced through his music and can explicitly be seen throughout his Instagram and across social media and internet platforms. A harrowing video posted hours before his death exposed that he had taken six Xanax saying, “I’m good, I’m not sick. I’mma see you all tonight.” The video has since been taken down from his Instagram page.

Inan interview with Pitchfork, Lil Peep opened up about his struggle with depression, “I suffer from depression and some days I wake up and I’m like ‘F—, I wish I didn’t wake up.’”

Detectives found evidence suggesting the rapper died of an overdose of Xanax and Fentanyl, an opiate

He was just a year older than my youngest sister. About four years younger than a family member of mine who passed in a similar manner two years ago. He overdosed on a drug that is regularly used to treat anxiety issues, which I have experienced on both a personal and familial level. Addiction to these drugs is serious, it is problematic, it is palpable. It is too easy. It is too common. It is personal.

Lil Peep’s death becomes personal when you take into account that 91 Americans die from opioid overdoses a day. That could be someone you know, it could be someone you love. Treating mental illness with highly addictive drugs is extremely problematic and it continually claims lives.

An article by German Lopez posted to Vox on October 26, puts the problem succinctly, “It’s much easier in America to get high than it is to get help.”

Lil Peep’s struggle with depression and drug abuse is indicative of a large-scale issue that has been reported on time and again. If you do enough research you will eventually run yourself into the ground in an Alex Mac silver puddle of tears full of questions like “how has nothing changed” and “how is it only getting worse.”

On the other hand, you can further your frustration by researching the fight for cannabis legalization and the installation of medical marijuana on a greater plane than it exists currently.

While Jeff Sessions continually speaks out against the legalization of medical marijuana, many people could be benefitting from its positive effects. As it stands, prescription drugs are linked to about 100,000 deaths per year, while there are zero documented deaths related to marijuana usage.

There is a string of positive effects of medical marijuana for a number of health issues, however, its Schedule 1 status has kept it off the market for people who could desperately benefit. Of course, due to the combination of its continually vilified status and non-addictive nature, the government would see no financial gain.

Opioids allow for the government to create addicts who will, in turn, continue to purchase the expensive drugs used to “cure” illness or pain.

Mental illness is repeatedly taken too lightly which leads to careless prescriptions and more addicts who have even less of a chance of living a long life.

Lil Peep’s manager, Chase Ortega, released a statement via Twitter this morning that read, “I’ve been expecting this call for a year. Mother f—.” His account has since been made private. Many Twitter users have come out asking for an explanation as to how Ortega had not taken any preventative measures and rather just ‘expected’ Lil Peep’s death.

It is embarrassing that someone so talented, so young, who was so clearly hurting, and clearly in need of help on a public level could not receive the attention and assistance he deserved. Not even from his manager.

It is easy and ignorant to dismiss Lil Peep’s death as an obvious result of his drug usage. His problem was much larger than regular drug usage, or drug addiction. The opioid epidemic is a very serious result of minimizing the seriousness of mental illness and blatantly creating addicts for profit and for someone to blame.

It is disconcerting to think about how many times the opioid epidemic has been reported on and how little has been done to combat it. If celebrities like Prince, Heath Ledger, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Joan Rivers, can fall victim to opioid addiction and overdose, the amount of civilian deaths is little more than catastrophic.

I have reread the texts from this morning’s girl chat. The profound hurt in my friends’ hearts, the familiarity of the news, the heaviness that comes with the knowledge that this is not just a celebrity death, but a familiar and all-too-real reality for too many Americans is both perplexing and deeply heartbreaking.

The world lost a talented musician today. On another very human level, it has shed yet another light onto the increasingly dire need to address and properly attack the opioid epidemic in America.

Rest in Peace, Gustav Åhr.