The music world was stunned last April upon learning that the legendary pop star known as Prince had died in his Paisley Park compound outside of Minneapolis (USA). Those who knew him rushed to his defence to declare that Prince lived a clean, drug-free life. Still, there was that nagging voice in the background that suggested the pop star’s death was drug-related. Now we know it was.
News reports say that Prince was scheduled to meet with a doctor specialising in addiction treatment the day after he died from an overdose of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that has been estimated to be up to 100 times more potent than morphine.
Dr Howard Kornfeld was initially asked by Prince’s representatives to meet with him as soon as possible, but he was unable to clear his schedule quickly enough. So Kornfeld made arrangements to meet with Prince the following day. In the meantime, he dispatched his son Andrew to Minneapolis to check on the pop star. By the time Andrew arrived, Prince was already dead from an overdose.
Almost Nobody Knew
Every drug-related death is truly a tragedy. But the one thing most tragic about Prince’s passing is that almost nobody knew of his struggle with opioids. Remember, dozens of people who knew Prince very well were adamant that the star lived a clean life. They talked about his exceptional eating habits, his exercise routine, and how cautious he was with alcohol and drugs. To find out his death was related to an ongoing problem with opioid abuse was as shocking to them as it was the rest of the world.
If we’ve learned any lessons from Prince’s death, one of the most important is this: some addictions can be hidden very well. It’s true that substances like methamphetamine and crack cocaine have very visible effects on the human body, making addictions to them easy to identify over time. But that’s not true for opioids.
The drug Prince was taking has been called ‘legal heroin on steroids‘ by more than one expert in the field. And yet to see Prince in person, you would never know he had been taking fentanyl for years. He was able to function normally while at the same time keeping his secret from everyone except the small handful who knew him best.
Don’t Wait to Get Help
The second lesson to be learned here is one of not waiting to get help for someone you suspect is abusing drugs or alcohol. Had someone within Prince’s inner circle taken action a bit sooner, perhaps this article would never have been written. By the way, that’s not to lay the blame at anyone’s feet. It is simply to say we all need to do a better job of being proactive about substance abuse and addiction.
Prince was a great talent by any standard. He was an incredible songwriter, musician, producer and new talent scout. He died much too young of a problem that could have been treated had he sought out professional help sooner. And unfortunately, Prince is not alone. How many others have we lost to the same addictions over the years? Too many to count.
The courts are still working their way through all the legal issues surrounding Prince’s death in 2016. No criminal charges have been filed thus far, and it’s unclear whether any ever will be. In the meantime, the probate court is trying to decide what to do with the legendary musician’s assets. All of it is a sad reminder of what happens when people turn to drugs or alcohol to sustain them.
We urge you not to follow in Prince’s footsteps. If you are abusing drugs or alcohol, get the help you need to overcome right now. If not for yourself, at least do it for the ones you love.