Last month, the world lost 21-year-old rap and recording artist, Juice Wrld. Juice – whose given name was Jarad Higgins – had just gotten off a private flight from L.A. when he suffered a seizure in the Chicago Midway airport. He was transported to the hospital and later pronounced dead in the early morning hours of December 8th, 2019.
Juice Wrld’s death is still an unknown. The preliminary autopsy report was inconclusive, and the toxicology, histology, pathology and other reports are still needed to determine his cause of death. However, unidentified witnesses (that were with Juice on the plane, prior to his death), suspect that drugs may be at play.
According to the Chicago police, federal agents met Juice Wrld’s private plane as it arrived to the airport. They had received a tip-off from the pilot that there were illegal drugs and guns on board. Upon arrival, they had plans to search the plane.
The police seized multiple bags of marijuana (about 70 lbs), multiple bottles of prescription codeine cough syrup, along with three guns and the bullets to go with them.
Before the search, however, Juice Wrld was seen swallowing “several” Percocet pills – a prescription painkiller – which other sources confirm he had been using and addicted to. They believe this was in an attempt to hide the pills from the authorities. On the scene, feds administered the opioid antidote Narcan twice, which revived Juice only briefly.
Did the painkillers contribute to Juice Wrld’s death? This has yet to be confirmed. Even so, Juice’s story goes beyond another overdose death. As many fans already know, Juice Wrld struggled with substance addiction for some time. In fact, he was very open about it.
In interviews and in his lyrics, Juice talked candidly about his misuse of Percocets and of “Lean,” a codeine cough syrup that has risen in popularity among rap artists. Juice’s song, “Lean Wit Me” was specifically about it and his struggles with drug cravings.
"F--k one dose, I need two pills, two pills/ I’m lookin’ for trouble so I know I’m gonna find it/ Ring, ring, plug hit my phone, perfect timin’/ I know I’m not right/ But I’m not wrong, no, I’m not wrong/ Girl, you hate it when I’m too high/ But that’s where I belong, where I belong"
“If I overdose, bae, are you gon' drop with me?/ I don't even wanna think about that right now/ Let's get too high, reach a new high/ Take the shrooms and the pills at the same time”
The music video for “Lean Wit Me” begins with Juice in a 12-step recovery meeting, illuminating his desire to get and stay sober. The video closes with a number for a substance abuse hotline.
The music video made a statement, as well as an effort to reach others struggling with drug addiction. Help is available. Addiction is hard, it is dangerous, and it is scary. But you don’t have to solve it alone. In a statement to TMZ, Juice Wrld’s family explained that his music was not designed to promote drug abuse. Instead, it was designed to “help those battling addiction who may have felt alone in their fight.”
Despite his rise to fame, Juice often felt alone himself. His music embodied a certain sadness. It often talked about his use of drugs to self-medicate bad feelings. In his “7 AM Freestyle,” for example, Juice raps, “I'm on a whole 'nother level/ I take Perkys to fight all my demons... Sipping on red lean... Pour me a four and another, I love it.”
Juice Wrld struggled with addiction, but also with anxiety and depression, loneliness and detachment. In a live video to his fans, he assured that even with all the money, he goes through the same mental health struggles. In his music, he implies that drugs are his primary coping mechanism, which is common among drug users today. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), those battling substance addiction are twice as likely to suffer also from a mood or anxiety disorder, and those struggling with a mental health disorder are twice as likely to develop a drug addiction.
After Juice Wrld’s death in early December, his mother, Carmella Wallace made a statement to TMZ. Despite there being no confirmation of an overdose, she immediately illuminated his struggle with prescription drug abuse. She said, “We loved Jarad with all of our hearts and cannot believe our time with him has been cut short. As he often addressed in his music and to his fans, Jarad battled with prescription drug dependency. Addiction knows no boundaries and its impact goes way beyond the person fighting it. Jarad was a son, brother, grandson, friend and so much more to so many people who wanted more than anything to see him defeat addiction.”
She continued, "We hope the conversations he started in his music and his legacy will help others win their battles, as that is what he wanted more than anything."
While Juice Wrld had just landed on ground at the time of his death, his career was really just taking off. According to SoundCloud, Juice Wrld was the most streamed, liked, and reposted artist of 2018. In less than two years, he reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart 25 times with songs like “Lucid Dreams,” “Legends,” and “Lean Wit Me” – all songs, among many more that shed light on his substance abuse.
Juice Wrld constantly talked about detoxing, getting healthy, wanting to stop. He wanted to be the best person for his girlfriend, for his family, and for his fans. However, his time was cut short. As his mother said, addiction knows no boundaries. It can affect anyone, and so can overdose. Any drug user has the ability to overdose on drugs. One too many pills, dangerous drug combinations, and even unknowingly laced drugs, have the power to be fatal. If your loved one is using drugs, it is important to make it stop.
It’s never too early to seek help for a drug addiction, but it can be too late. To learn about Turnbridge’s young adult drug treatment programs, please do not hesitate to reach out. We have prescription drug abuse and dual diagnosis programs tailored to young men and women. We are here for you.