Elvis Presley’s Death: Drugs and Rock & Roll

June 27, 2022 | addiction treatment , drugs

How Did Elvis Die

Elvis Presley’s Death: Drugs and Rock & Roll

Many questions have remained about how Elvis died. The basic story of how the King of Rock and Roll died is well known but still, it remains shrouded in mystery and rumor. There have been several contributing factors to the death of Elvis including an enlarged heart, his drug use, chronic constipation, his diet, and being overweight. The medical examiner ruled Elvis Presley’s death from cardiac arrest. It is now considered that his long-standing issues around drug abuse caused his heart to stop.

When Did Elvis Presley Die?

On the afternoon of August 16, 1977, Elvis Presley’s fiancé Ginger Alden found him lying unconscious on the master suite bathroom floor in Memphis Tennessee. He was quickly taken to the Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis Tennessee by ambulance and after several failed attempts to revive him, he was pronounced dead at 3:30 pm at the age of 42.

What Illegal Drugs Did Elvis Presley’s Take?

Although Elvis tried marijuana and cocaine at least on one occasion, he actually felt far more comfortable with the world of legal prescription drugs. Several weeks after Presley’s death, Elvis’ toxicology report from the medical examiner came back and found traces of 14 drugs, 10 of which were present in significant quantities and all prescribed. These 10 primary substances included

  • Codeine – pain medication
  • Morphine – potent opiate
  • Methaqualone – barbiturate-like sedative, also known as Quaalude
  • Diazepam – better known as Valium
  • N-Desmethyldiazepam – benzodiazepine used for anxiety, insomnia, and seizures
  • Ethinamate – hypnotic and sedative
  • Ethchlorvynol – GABA-ergic sedative for insomnia
  • Pentobarbital – short-acting barbiturate
  • Phenobarbital – short-term barbiturate
  • Butabarbital – barbiturate to treat insomnia and anxiety.

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What Caused His Death?

Just like many other popular music performers at the time, Elvis was a heavy user of several prescription drugs including sedatives, barbiturates, and opiates. His physician, Dr. George Nichopoulus, also known as Dr Nick, was implicated in the death of Elvis Presley for indiscriminately prescribing and dispensing controlled substances. It was later found that Dr Nick had prescribed over 12,000 pills and other pharmaceuticals in the last 20 months of Elvis’ life. He had his medical license suspended for 6 months. Ultimately, Elvis’ cause of death was cardiac arrest, but there is still much controversy over what caused his heart to stop.

In 1977, Elvis suffered with high blood pressure, glaucoma, cardiac arrhythmia, an enlarged colon and liver damage. He was also severely overweight. Over the years, there have been several physicians with conflicting causes of death including that he died of constipation (strain of pushing caused cardiac arrest) and another physician attributed Presley’s death to a toxic reaction to codeine he got from his dentist. It is now widely accepted that the prescription drugs in his system were the main contributor to his cardiac arrest.

Why Do So Many Musicians Do Drugs?

Drug abuse and rock and roll are almost synonymous with one another. But drug abuse among musicians goes beyond the genre of rock and roll. There are several reasons why drugs and alcohol are so prevalent among the music industry and popular music. The mental and physical toll touring can put a lot of strain on a person. Many musicians turn to alcohol and drug abuse to self-medicate many of their issues including anxiety, insomnia, exhaustion, and loneliness. Some musicians have used drugs to enhance creativity while others are heavy users because there is heavy drug and alcohol use in their environment.

How Old Would Elvis Presley Be Today?

Elvis was born on January 8, 1935 in Tupelo Mississippi to parents Gladys and Vernon Presley. This means that Elvis would have been 87 years old today.

Elvis Presley’s death shows that drug addiction fatalities are not limited to only illegal or street drugs, but also prescription drugs. Just because a substance is prescribed from a physician, does not make it safe. Many people today struggle with addiction to prescription drugs initially given to them from their doctor including painkillers, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications. If you or someone you love is struggling with prescription medication addiction, Daybreak Treatment Solutions can help you break the hold drugs have on you. Please give us a call today at (844) 695-0083.