Mac Miller’s passing shocked people around the world. The combined shock and grief of losing a loved one — whether you know them or not — can result in the development of PTSD or adjustment disorder.

Mac Miller, a beloved rapper from Pittsburgh, who fatally overdosed on September 26, 2018. Miller’s overdose was ruled accidental and the result of combining fentanylcocaine, and alcohol.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks morbidity rates for drug use. Since 2017, the sharpest increase in drug overdose deaths was related to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. When celebrities like Mac Miller die due to substance abuse, it sheds light on the complex issues related to the indirect effects of drug and alcohol addiction. The tragedy of Miller dying at 26 is compounded effect his passing has had on his family and friends. Survivors close to people who die from a drug overdose may experience extreme stress and mental health complications.

Can You Get PTSD or Adjustment Disorder From Someone’s Overdose?

Mac Miller is survived by many family, friends, and fans. His former girlfriend, Ariana Grande, has been open and emotional about his death. She paid tribute to him on social media and in a benefit concert in his hometown. Her reaction to his death may help others understand the emotional and mental disorders that can affect people whose loved ones die from drug overdoses.

Death as a result of diagnosable mental health and substance use disorders can generate much grief in loved ones. Some of these reactions can develop into long-term issues or disorders, such as:

  • Survivor’s guilt
  • Obsessive-compulsive tendencies
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Adjustment disorder

According to the American Psychiatric Association, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the result of trauma and can include:

  • Disturbing thoughts and feelings
  • Flashbacks or nightmares
  • Detachment

Related conditions include acute stress disorder, which causes flashbacks and high anxiety, and adjustment disorder, which may lead to hopelessness and physical illness.

How To Deal With Someone’s Overdose

Ariana Grande and Mac Miller’s family have had to adjust to life after his fatal drug overdose. It is possible to manage mental health challenges by concentrating on proven coping strategies or receiving professional help. Some of the ways to recover from a friend or family member’s fatal drug overdose can be by:

  • Finding a reputable counselor
  • Joining a grief recovery support group
  • Journaling
  • Practicing self-care
  • Fostering a calming environment

Sometimes friends or family members of people who have died from drug overdose will want to take a leave of absence from work. Taking time to accept the loss and move through the stages of grief is important because that process provides a valuable foundation for good, long-term mental health.


People who lose a loved one from a drug overdose may go through stages of grief. Grief can be managed, but it is a complex mental state. People going through grief from a loss can feel:

  • Sad
  • Afraid
  • Guilty
  • Ashamed
  • Alone
  • Depressed

Qualified grief counselors and mental health professionals can provide meaningful guidance and support through the difficult time following a loss. It is important to pursue and continue healing and self-care. A loss from a drug overdose death presents many challenges. But peace can be found as people work through grief and find joy again.

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By – Joy Youell
Joy Youell is a writer and content developer with a background in educational research. Using sound pedagogical approaches and expert-backed methods, Joy has designed and delivered adult learning content, professional development, and company training materials for organizations. Read more
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Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more

American Psychiatric Association. “What Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?” January 2017. Accessed June 15, 2019.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Overdose Death Rates.” January 2019. Accessed June 15, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.