As I write this, there are reports that the rock star, once again known as Prince, was treated for an opioid drug overdose six days before he was found unconscious and dead in his home.
Of course I am grief stricken by Prince’s death. Of course I am angry that this creative life force has been extinguished. My seemingly perverted point, that it would be good if his demise was dope related, is that Prince’s death will be made more meaningful if it furthers the cause to put adequate resources into the prevention and treatment of opioid dependence.
As a social worker at a inpatient detox program and at a methadone clinic, I was surprised when I first started hearing stories of addiction to opiates starting because of their energizing effect on some abusers. The face of America’s dope epidemic is more than then those found dead with a syringe of heroin in their arm. I never interviewed a 50 year old rock star. I did hear from construction workers who were amazed as to how much better they could build buildings and stone walls, thanks to heroin and heroin’s opioid relatives. I heard of young college students who discovered that they were a lot smarter than they thought they were when they found it much easier to energetically apply themselves after taking opioids.
I never got to work with the rock legend Michael Jackson, but by media accounts, opioids certainly prolonged his career, until they took his life. (If I had worked with him, I wouldn’t have acknowledged that, due to confidentiality ethics). How many rock stars does it take to change the dim light bulb that now poorly illuminates what opioid abuse has taking from the world?
For those misfortunate enough, to be rich enough, to have no end to the availability of prescription grade opioids, the substance itself isn’t that bad on your health. The substance itself doesn’t come close to tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine and a bunch of other commonly abused substances, in the health risk department. There are physicians, nurses, lawyers, college professors, all sorts of well off and creative people who are prolonging their careers by taking opioids for purposes other than what they can be legally prescribed for.
Many potential opioid drug abusers first start thinking about giving them a try when they learn of others having success with being careful about where they get there stuff and how much they take. Not all potential opioid abusers are looking to float away on a cloud of pleasure. Many successful opioid abusers desperately need life or death help and aren’t getting it because of the social stigma and legal issues surrounding opioid drug addiction. All are playing with death along with great suffering for themselves and others.
I am not a physician or a drug researcher. I am someone who saw too many people suffering because of inadequate support for drug abuse prevention and treatment. I am a fan of Prince’s music and his musical performances. In some ways it doesn’t matter to me what the causes of Prince’s death were. Great creative loss is great creative loss. It just is that the mere thought that it might be opioid related pisses me off, because it could very well be. Too many Doves crying from what dope has done and what was not done to prevent it from happening.
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