Prince's death brings awareness to opioid addiction - WNEM TV 5

Prince's death brings awareness to opioid addiction

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A week into the investigation of Prince's death a makeshift memorial decorates the outside of his home near Minneapolis.

Several news agencies quoting unnamed sources said police found powerful pain medications on the singer and inside his home.

"People close to Prince tell me he struggled with pain killers due to his hip and ankle issues," said Kevin Frazier, with Entertainment Tonight.

Issues tied to years of dynamic stage performances. While opioids help decrease pain, experts warn they can lead you down a very dangerous path.

"People who are on these chronic pain medications, we need to do everything that we can to get them off these pain medicines," said Dr. Matthew Deibel, with Covenant Healthcare.

Deibel said the longer a patient is on pain medicine, the higher the risk for addiction.

"We've seen a 300 percent increase in opiate prescribing over the last decade," Deibel said.

It's hard to kick the habit once you're hooked.

Lindsey Olney knows that all too well. Her addiction began by stealing prescription medicine from friends and family.

"I would swallow 10 at a time you know. It got to be like, it, it was bad," Olney said.

She's been in and out of rehab eight times and overdosed once. A story played out in emergency rooms every day.

"I know I've had several friends and it's an ongoing thing. Like every other day I hear somebody else overdosing," she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports every 19 minutes someone dies from an accidental overdose.

While it's not clear how Prince died, doctors said it's time to change the system.

"We see the effects of it. We see the overdoses coming in. We see the people dying from this stuff," Deibel said.

In an attempt to combat the problem locally, the two Saginaw hospitals, both Covenant and St. Mary's Hospital, have a pain medication protocol they've recently put in place. While they'll still treat patients who experience traumatic paint, they'll no longer give out pain medication to patients who have chronic pain. Instead, they'll refer those patients to their primary care physicians.

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