The Death of Prince: Tragically, Most Likely an Overdose
It is with a somber mood and heavy heart that I write the article I never wanted to write: on the mysterious death of Prince.
As a life-long Prince fan, I was well aware of his healthy habits – for most of his life, he shunned drugs and alcohol. He was a vegan. Most reports pointed to the fact that he was very, very conscious about what he put in his body.
I write about addiction. That’s what I do. And I truly can’t guess at the number of hours of research and writing that I have put into prescription drug addiction and overdoses.
That’s just another reason why it is so hard for me to report on the death of Prince.
But along with his health-conscious nature, he also had health problems. He suffered from epilepsy. Most recently, however, he reportedly had corrective surgery on his hips.
At some point, he probably had to make a tough decision – take painkillers in order to maintain his lifestyle, or end up confined to a wheelchair.
Unfortunately, I do think that all signs point to a prescription painkiller overdose, eerily reminiscent of his former pop nemesis, Michael Jackson. I am not an expert, per say. But I do know something about this type of addiction.
I really, really hope I’m wrong. But I don’t think so. And I really hope I can update this article in a few days and apologize for making assumptions.
That mysterious plane landing a few days ago…
On April 15, Prince’s private jet made an emergency landing just 48 minutes from Minneapolis. Spokespersons for Prince said it was the flu. But boy, that must have been a pretty bad flu that it couldn’t wait less than an hour.
Quad City international airport in Moline, Illinois, confirmed last Thursday that a private plane landed unexpectedly for a medical emergency around 1:35 a.m. that morning. The person was rushed to a local emergency room for treatment. It’s not much of a stretch to say that person was probably Prince.
According to admittedly unconfirmed reports by TMZ, Prince was allegedly administered an overdose reversal drug, which was most likely Narcan (naloxone). Naloxone is a drug commonly used to stop opioid overdoses in progress. The powerful opioid drug Percocet has been mentioned as being involved in this event.
- Reports state that Prince had corrective hip surgery in 2010. Painkillers are frequently prescribed for hip problems requiring this surgery.
- Recently former fiance Sheila E confirmed that Prince definitely suffered great pain from years of performing, and did have hip problems.
- It is highly unlikely that his plane landed 48 minutes early, emergency style, for the flu.
- Upon his death, there were no signs of trauma, suicide, or foul play, according to official reports.
- We aren’t going to know anything else until toxicology reports come back. That is, no one has so far speculated or announced that it was natural causes (i.e. heart attack.)
- One day after the emergency landing, he was hosting and performing at a party at his home. An unlikely scenario for someone who nearly died from the flu the day before.
- He was seen visiting Walgreens pharmacy several times in the days before his death.This is common behavior for addicts.
At least one expert agrees…
Cyril Wecht is a forensic pathologist who also believes that the death of Prince was probably due to an overdose. While Wecht is not involved with Prince’s case, he has worked on very high-profile cases, and is well-qualified to make an educated guess.
Wecht told NBC’s TODAY:
“I would give overwhelming odds that, tragically, this is a drug death.”
“When you rule out foul play, when there is no history of any kind of significant disease … heart and lung … when you rule out any kind of intervention, anything of an environmental nature, you come down to an autopsy that is essentially negative … and that probably means drugs.”
“I cannot think of any medical or pathological condition that fits that kind of scenario…”
The day after the plane landing, Prince hosted a party at his estate. Addressing his health, he said:
“Wait a few days before you waste any prayers.”
While suicide may be unlikely, that sounds like the words of someone who knows this is probably going to happen again. And may possibly be apathetic about it.
The evening before his death, he was dropped off at his home by an acquaintance around 8 p.m.
The next morning, staff were alarmed when they couldn’t reach him. They then went to his estate and found him alone in the residence, collapsed in an elevator and unresponsive.
Police were called around 9:43 a.m., according to the sheriff’s office and 911 records. A male said an ambulance was needed and that a man was not responding. He confirmed “Yes, it’s Prince.”
First responders arrived and began CPR, but it was too late. Sheriff Jim Olsen said that responders were carrying Narcan (naloxone) but did not administer it. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 10:07 a.m., April 21, 2016.
Within minutes, TMZ announced the death of Prince on their website. While many believed it to be a hoax, passing hours confirmed their claim.
The exact time of the death of Prince has not been released. It could be weeks before results from the autopsy toxicology reports are known.
Again, I am by no means certain that he died of an overdose. But sans any evidence of natural causes, I’m not sure what other conclusion can be made.
As I said, I really hope I’m wrong. That is not the ending that I want for him. I cannot stress enough how his death has impacted me, as it has the entire world.
And even if it was not a drug overdose, signs say that the emergency landing in Illinois was definitely an overdose. And I think that there is a great likelihood he was taking prescription drugs for his painful hip problems.
The world will know soon.
All good things they say, never last. ~ Prince, 1985
If you have an addiction to painkillers, I implore you – please, please, please seek treatment.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A. Psychology
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