Thank you, thank you, thank you, Maureen! This is by far the best article on painkiller addiction I have read after Prince’s passing. It should be spread worldwide and be a must-read, especially for the media. I look forward to your book!
I don’t disagree with the thesis of this piece that addition-shaming sucks and fear of it likely contributed to the man’s death, but I also have to wonder to what degree his status as a (reputedly quite devout) Jehovah’s Witness played.
One of the Witnesses’ quirks is that they don’t do blood transfusions.
I’m not a doctor and obviously I know next to nothing about the specifics of Prince’s medical condition, but for people with really serious, chronic hip pain, there are surgeries that can help. Much more than pills. I’ve read that Prince had some sort of hip surgery a number of years ago, but I have to wonder if there might be something more effective. Something that he wasn’t willing to undergo (or that doctors weren’t willing to perform) because of the no-blood-transfusion thing, leaving the chemical painkillers as his only option…
Your article was the bomb but you got one small detail wrong… Prince never had the double hip surgery he needed since 2005. In order to have a hip replacement (as with any complex surgery) one must prepare to receive blood transfusions and this is not accepted by the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion, of which Prince was a devout follower. So he must have truly been enduring some intense pain that I cannot even imagine! I had to get a hip resurfaced several years ago and the pain I endured before I succumbed to that surgery was horrible!
If Prince had been taking narcotics since 2005, when he first needed the hip replacements, his usage must have been pretty heavy since you have to keep increasing your dosage to experience pain relief. It’s easy to see why he had to turn to a drug as strong as Fentanyl. Had he been able to have the surgery, he would probably still be with us today.
So, what killed Prince? Something MUCH worse than drugs. It was religion. Religion killed Prince…
Well done and thank you for this.
I just wanted to thank you so much for such a wonderful article…I found it quite by accident, but just wanted to thank you. I am a major Prince fan and also a fan of the wonderful babes in Toyland!
I’ve been so sad by the coverage of prince death here in the UK … so many scandalous articles and so little understanding. I am also a recovering addict … over twelve years clean and sober…but I struggled greatly at the beginning as I am a school teacher and I was so scared to get help through aa/Na, because of the ignorance surrounding this illness. I can’t imagine how difficult and frightening it must have been for Prince. So much congratulations to yourself in recovery and sincere thanks again!
Thank you Maureen, a lot of great perspectives here, amazing that you got sober, I too am a touring sober musician… Just wanted to reach out about using the twealve step name in this article (AA)… I’m writing about my sobriety and am experimenting with different ways to talk about what programs I use to stay sober and to honor their tradition of not talking specifically about them, not using their name in radio, film, tv or writing, we share “in a general way”, especially since you are saying that someone had a bad experience with a sponser, not using the organizations name might help some that people are curious about the organization instead of thinking “fuck that”, bc as you and I know not every meeting is the same, we WANT people to get sober any way they can so we don’t want to put down means and ways that they might. You are such a voice and inspiration to many I just want to help you fine tune the language… In love, Shana Falana
Good point - thank you, will edit. AA saved my life. I was referring to people, including AA people, who believe use of Rxs = using.
I am not an addict, but I do live in chronic pain and take pain meds for it. It isn’t heavy duty like Fentanyl or anything like that. But I didn’t have double hip replacement either.
I can only imaging the obstacles and disdain addicts go through to get help, as I am treated like a criminal or drug dealer lately in trying to sustain a “normal” operating level for a condition that is extremely well documented. I’m not faking the huge masses of tumors that are in those MRIs.
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Great article! It’s time we stop shaming and ignoring opioid addiction. The addition is not their choice, but a side affect as noted in this article. Chronic pain will lead to depression and eventually to opioid addiction. I think some of us have been there, if not most of us can relate or know someone who has suffered from this illness. This is a disease and its real! We will win this fight against pain killer addiction when we start recognizing it as such instead of acting like this is something they can control. People don’t understand how easily someone can be addicted, but its not all that difficult. All it takes is one bad car accident or necessary surgery for chronic pain to settle in and you will find yourself in that same situation. People need to stop judging others for something they can’t control, and help them get the help they so desperately need before they are victims of this illness, like Prince!
I know what is like to be looked down on from those who are clueless about addiction. I agree celebrities struggle because media puts their every move in the spotlight. They are responsible for not giving the famous space and privacy to be human. What a shame!
As a person who has to live with chronic pain, I can tell you now that it isn’t the medication that’s addictive, it’s the fact that painkillers do their job. I have to take 15 mgs of Oxycodone every twelve hours, and Oxycodone is four times stronger than Morphine. To do what so many people take for granted? I need painkillers, and it’s just that simple.
I was 11 years old when I was hit by a car, and my pelvis was cleanly snapped in two, and on a 45 degree angle. My coccyx, right hip, right buttock, right hip, and of course, my right leg, were torn off in the time it took to blink.
I was fine for fifteen years until a chain reaction happened. The muscle on the lower left side of my spine began to overcompensate for the loss of the right muscle, so the left muscle began to both push and pull the bottom part of my spine. The spine itself began to distort, and it finally fused itself. The fusion is too high up for an operation, so paralysis is too much of a risk. Then, naturally, Osteo-arthritis set in, and finally, a vacuum in my remaining hip joint appeared two years ago.
My body weight pushes my hip out of joint, and when I move, even an inch, the vacuum sucks the hip right back in.
There is no pain management in the world that could deal with that, and so painkillers are my one option for some kind of existence. I won’t say life, because I don’t have one, I merely exist.
It’s so very easy to OD on painkillers, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with addiction. It has to do with maintaining what little sanity you have left, control your desperation to leave the house and your nicely decorated prison cell simply to feel the sun on your face for one single little hour. It’s hearing the birds, feeling the wind, seeing window displays in town for a short while, tasting food not cooked by your mother/carer, and it’s seeing your 56 year old mother/carer not look worn to the bone for once.
The abilities you get are more addictive than the painkillers themselves.
Stop feeding them, at least on this one. Ok?
Awesome, God so nervous after posting that I NEVER respond to stuff ever
but I am super passionate about my recovery and have been challenged as of
late myself sharing it with other musicians as a source of hopeful
inspiration and am trying to respect the traditions… It’s hard!!! I
loved your piece and wanted to let you know that more in my comment but was
rushing off to work! Xo
Well if you read the article, you would have known the author also suffered from addiction.
Wtf is going on here?
People are reacting negatively to the headline, thinking that it is implying that Prince’s OD is entirely his own fault (for being “ignorant and afraid”), instead of reading the article and realizing it’s also referring to society’s ignorance and fear.