Tom Petty’s death ruled an accidental opioid overdose


Source: musicisentropy/Flickr

Tom Petty is one of the latest high-profile victims of America’s opioid crisis, according to the rock star’s autopsy results released over the weekend.

Los Angeles County coroner spokesperson Ed Winter confirmed that Petty died of an accidental overdose of opiates at the age of 66 in October of last year. Coroners found a mixture of fentanyl, oxycodone, temazepam, alprazolam, citalopram, acetylfentanyl, and despropionyl fentanyl in his system.

Barely a week before his death, Petty had wrapped up a 40th-anniversary tour with his band, The Heartbreakers. He was relaxing with his family and recovering from the strain of the tour when he was found unresponsive at his home.

In a statement from Petty’s family, Petty’s wide and daughter said the overdose was the result of chronic pain exacerbated by a recently fractured hip.

“Unfortunately Tom’s body suffered from many serious ailments including emphysema, knee problems and most significantly a fractured hip,” they wrote. “Despite this painful injury he insisted on keeping his commitment to his fans and he toured for 53 dates with a fractured hip and, as he did, it worsened to a more serious injury.”

The statement continued: “On the day he died he was informed his hip had graduated to a full on break and it is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his over use of medication.”

If the news surrounding Petty’s death seems eerily familiar, it is because it closely parallels the death of another famous musician last year. There are several similarities between the deaths of Prince and Tom Petty.

Both Prince and Tom Petty toured heavily despite severe physical issues and chronic pain. Both musicians began using opiates legitimately to treat their pain, but eventually began to over-use the medication until it led to an accidental overdose.

The deaths of these famous musicians also bear notable similarities to those who have overdosed on opiates across America in recent years. In their statement, Petty’s family noted that “many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications.”

They also encouraged the public to let the news about Petty’s overdose foster greater awareness about the risks of opioids.

“As a family we recognize this report may spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis and we feel that it is a healthy and necessary discussion and we hope in some way this report can save lives.”

While the family is still grieving Tom Petty’s passing, the recent news has granted them some closure.

“On a positive note we now know for certain he went painlessly and beautifully exhausted after doing what he loved the most, for one last time, performing live with his unmatchable rock band for his loyal fans on the biggest tour of his 40 plus year career,” Mr. Petty’s family said in their statement. “He was extremely proud of that achievement in the days before he passed.”

Overdoses are an increasingly common result of the widespread abuse and addiction to opioids in America. Even if you began taking an opioid medication under doctor’s recommendation, prolonged use is highly likely to lead to abuse and the risk for a tragic accident. If you or someone you know may be abusing opioids, please give us a call at (888) 298-4673. We can help answer any questions you may have and find the best treatment plan for you. 

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