(CBS) – On Thursday, the public learned rock legend Prince died from an overdose of fentanyl.
The drug is often intended as a last resort, when other pain medications no longer work.
But it is potentially deadly, CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross reports.
“The hardest thing is getting out of the bed in the morning. For all of us, it’s hard,” says Peggy Szafranski.
Her son, Billy, had surgery to fix his shoulder at age 23. Afterward, another ailment surfaced, and he became addicted to the pain killers doctors prescribed.
Despite his family’s efforts to get him help, he took fentanyl. And that led to his death.
Last year in Cook County, there were 102 fatalities related to fentanyl. So far this year, that number is at least 78.
DuPage County reports 10 deaths last year. In 2016, it’s at least 14, on pace to more than double 2015’s total.
In some cases, distributors of illegal heroin are lacing the drug with fentanyl, which makes it even more dangerous.
Family members describe Billy’s story as the medical system failing him — not just doctors and not just drug makers.
They hope for reform and fewer fatalities.
There are legitimate reasons to prescribe fentanyl — such as treating pain for cancer patients.
But a National Safety Council poll found 44 percent of doctors are prescribing fentanyl regularly.