By: Paige Hohmann
The passing of underground rapper Lil Peep drew public attention after CNN’s coverage of the incident. The sudden death of Gustav Ahr, whose nickname “Peep” was given to him by his mother at a young age, raised controversy as well as shock among family, friends, and supporters of the 21-year-old.
On November 15, 2017, Lil Peep was found unresponsive in his tour bus hours prior to a performance scheduled in Tuscon, Arizona. The newly rising icon, who was on the verge of changing the entire music scene lost his life due to an accidental overdose. CNN reporters wrote, “After speaking with people on the scene and going into the tour bus (police) said that there was evidence of a possible drug overdose, most likely from Xanax,” Sgt. Pete Dugan, a spokesman for the Tucson Police Department, told CNN in a phone interview Thursday.”
Hearing this news is intense and emotional, especially for those he touched through his music and charisma. The harsh reality of addiction and depression unfortunately leads to these types of events where life is cut short. As the story of how he died unfolds, it’s becoming clear that Peep did die of an accidental overdose. However, the drug he thought he was consuming alone was combined with other drugs known to cause respiratory failure when used together.
Pressed For Pills
Another story also making headlines is the alarming number of overdoses within the last year caused by fentanyl. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl was detected in more than half of the overdose data collected from only 10 different states. Fentanyl is cheap and is becoming a staple for illegal drug manufacturers, buyers, and sellers.
But how does this relate to Lil Peep’s death?
It has come to the attention of many that the Xanax he had taken was actually laced with fentanyl. It is also unclear if the drug he took even contained Benzodiazepines, but if it did, research shows the dangers of using opioids and benzodiazepines together.
Post Malone, another musician close to Peep, stated in an interview with Ethan and Hila Klein “…it was laced with something, with fentanyl…Anybody can go and buy a pill press for $25.”
These pills are created for profit and the reality is the people making these pills are unaware of how dangerous fentanyl is in small doses. Fentanyl is cheap, easily accessible through online vendors, and easy to make. Using fentanyl in pill production increases a dealer’s profit because a large number of pills are being made from a cheap, potent filler, to later be sold at a high price. Fentanyl isn’t only found in pills, it’s also found in heroin and other opioids.
It’s a marketing tactic with terrifying consequences.
The toxicity of a small amount of this drug is higher than any synthetic opioid to ever sweep the nation in the high numbers it is today.
It is true that Lil Peep was known to use drugs. He posted videos and pictures on his Instagram account using Xanax bars, talked in interviews about withdrawal and getting high, and often looked obliterated on social media; however, his death was an accident. There is no evidence to suggest he purposely took laced pills. Yet, people are shaming Lil Peep and addicts as a whole for using drugs. The stigma of addiction has left society with distorted views on what life consists of on a daily basis for those struggling to stay clean. People shouldn’t be targeting and attacking hip hop culture or drug users, instead, they should be raising awareness to the exacerbating drug epidemic in the United States.
Lean In The Hip Hop Scene
Artists in the hip-hop scene are notorious for advertising their drug use in music videos, interviews, and in their everyday lives. One of the most common drugs being used by hip hop artists is liquid codeine, better known as lean or syrup. It’s a drink that seems safer than other drugs but in reality, lean is liquid heroin. Many artists glorify using this substance and it might lead to naive teens and young adults to think, “well so-and-so is doing it and they are successful, so I can be like them.”
It doesn’t always work that way and sometimes people don’t know they carry addictive traits or they don’t believe they’ll be addicted until it happens to them.
In a No Jumper interview, Lil Peep discusses the drugs he does and lean was one of them. He also stated he used a lot of Xanax, Percocet, weed, and cocaine. The topic of drugs was concluded by him saying he does whatever drugs are in front of him at the time; it doesn’t matter. He also mentioned going into withdrawals (because of an unknown substance) which indicates his body was dependent on drugs at the time of the interview.
Partying is so prominent in the music industry that it doesn’t always raise red flags, even when it’s obvious. However, many artists, such as Lil Uzi Vert, eventually realize they have a problem when their lives are directly or indirectly affected by drug abuse.
Another common attitude toward drugs in the industry is artists feeling more inspiration when they are under the influence. They might even convince themselves that using will make them better musicians, leading them to a point of no return. No one knows if these were Peep’s thoughts, but we do know he felt insecure and the drugs helped him overcome those feelings of discomfort and eventually led to his death.
Inside The Mind And The Music
“I am a depressed drug addict and I’m nearing my breaking point. Everything I love is disappearing” – tweeted from Lil Peep in early 2017.
Statements like these often go ignored and untreated, especially when an individual like Peep portrays this image of being “sad and disturbed.” Lil Peep was humble; he didn’t care about the money or the fame. He just wanted his music to be heard. Unfortunately, his legacy ended too soon but Lil Peep will not be forgotten. In his music videos and social media, it’s clear he struggled with drugs and depression, which is highly relatable to people in society today. However, there are also others who will never understand the disease and publicly shame drug addicts instead of taking a deeper look into the issue.
As a recovering drug addict who also suffers from depression, I can tell you it isn’t easy to stop using despite wanting to. The thoughts of not wanting to be on drugs and wanting to be happy quickly dissipate as time goes on living with an untreated disease.
“I just wana be everybody’s everything I want too much from people but then I don’t want anything from them at the same time u feel me I don’t let people help me but I need help but not when I have my pills but that’s temporary one day maybe I won’t die young and I’ll be happy? What is happy I always have happiness for like 10 seconds and then it’s gone. I’m getting so tired of this” – Lil Peep’s description under an Instagram post.
The words on this post are a clear illustration of the mind of people in active addiction. Sick and tired of living a life without meaning, craving happiness, but unable to stop due to the inability to cope with life on life’s terms. This is common, more common than you might even imagine.
A Junkie’s Perspective
The drugs have a strong hold on not only the body but also the mind. Addiction took me to dark places and near-death experiences. The recovery process for me is not easy and there are still days where I struggle but today I have a choice. Unfortunately, not everyone makes it. It is imperative for people like me, who’ve experienced the feelings that Lil Peep expressed at times of his life, to let him live through us and raise awareness for this relentless disease.
For me, using drugs to cope with my depression was a ritual. There were no thoughts about it, it just happened. I felt as though I couldn’t function like a normal human being without being outside of myself. Although heart-breaking, death is a possibility and it seems to always happen to the ones with the biggest hearts and biggest desires to make a name for themselves like Peep began to do.
As a recovering addict, I highly relate to the pain and struggles he expresses in interviews and through his lyrics. He inspires the urge to be myself and give the world my all, regardless of what society thinks. Lil Peep had a dynamite attitude and his death should be a wake-up call to anyone struggling with addiction and mental health.
Do You Find Yourself Struggling With Addiction?
If you find yourself overwhelmed with addiction, take a moment to realize you are not alone. Help is available. Call Delphi Behavioral Health Group at 844-915-2983. Our caring and professional call representatives will be here to listen to you 24/7. They will be ready to explain treatment options to fit your individual needs.