Additional info about the circumstances surrounding Prince’s fatal overdose: Seems like the more we learn, the more familiar it all seems.
A couple small mysteries have been resolved. First, appears that almost to the end, Prince’s personal physician was writing prescriptions for opioids. Second, some of the prescriptions were written for Prince under someone else’s name, including a member of his staff. If there’s a Court case at some point, that could become very important.
Prince was hiding the extent and severity of his dependence from those around him. He used a common tactic, mixing opioids in with aspirin and acetaminophen, so as to be less conspicuous about popping pills. He might have feared that others would find out how much he was using and take it away from him.
In addiction parlance, that’s called protecting your supply, and it becomes a major preoccupation for the addicted person. Once addiction reaches this stage, it’s the primary problem, rather than pain. Drug use will be mostly to stave off withdrawal and suppress craving. The physical pain that initially motivated opioid use is now secondary.
Hiding substances is part of this transition. True story from a multi-family therapy group: A woman described going through her mother’s effects following her death, and finding dozens of liquor bottles, mostly half-pints, hidden in the most unlikely places in her apartment. Such as the bottom of a giant bowl of fake fruit. Or concealed in a jumbo bag of frozen peas. Or stuck between the cushions of the cat’s bed. “I don’t get it,” her daughter complained. “She lived alone. Why bother hiding them?”
Another member had this explanation. “It was just force of habit, from all those years hiding her drinking from her family.” Or as one man put it: “I bet she blacked out and couldn’t remember where she hid the bottles, so she bought more and hid what was left of that. And then she couldn’t find where she put those bottles, either.” I assumed these were the voices of experience.
“I think she must have been ashamed,” her daughter concluded. “She wasn’t just hiding it from others. She was hiding it from herself.”
Shame always plays a role. Not just the shame of discovery, but the shame of having a problem in the first place. Because you think it makes you a bad person, or a weak one, or both.
Given our weird obsessive fan culture, shame for a celebrity is often public. One commentator wondered why Prince reached out for help all the way to California when there was no shortage of qualified professionals in the Twin Cities. I imagine there’s a simple answer: He hoped to avoid notoriety. He didn’t want to disappoint his fans — people who believed in him.
Can’t blame the guy for that. But it would be nice if people in trouble felt more comfortable about asking for help when they needed it.