Kansas University student Skyler Price died of an accidental methadone overdose, according to a toxicology report completed recently.
The 19-year-old Free State High School graduate was found in his dorm room Dec. 8 after fellow residents complained of a foul odor. Price had methadone levels that would be "in the range described for methadone overdose deaths." Price also had acute pneumonia, but that could have occurred before or because of the drug overdose, the report said.
Price had a variety of prescription and nonprescription drugs in his dorm room, the autopsy report said. The autopsy also noted an elevated blood-alcohol level; however, that could have occurred because of changes in his body after death.
On Monday, Price's parents said in a statement that their son's accidental death serves as a reminder about the dangers of prescription medications.
"We have learned that prescription painkillers, such as methadone, are easily available on the streets of Lawrence, Kansas, without a prescription," the statement said. "We hope no other family has to experience the wrenching agony that a parent suffers when a child predeceases them, but dangerous prescription drugs are available on the streets in our town and in Anytown, USA, and the children of our community are using them."
Becky and Jeff Price urged other parents to watch for signs of drug use.
"Do not hesitate to seek help if you suspect your child is at risk," they said. "Talk to your children and let them know the dangers of taking any drug - prescription or otherwise.
"Teach them that they should never leave a friend alone if they suspect they have used an unknown medication. If they think their friend is in trouble, they should get help immediately."
Methadone is a powerful painkiller that is also used to treat heroin addiction. More recently, however, the drug has been used recreationally.