Prince's opioid overdose just the latest in a growing problem - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Prince's opioid overdose just the latest in a growing problem

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It wasn't a sudden heart attack, stroke or other medical condition, instead it was what many feared.

A Minnesota medical examiner confirmed Thursday that Prince died from an accidental overdose of Fentanyl, a common pain reliever.

And with more and more doctors prescribing opioids, those on the front lines warn Prince is just the latest public face of this very personal problem.

Jack Walker says his doctor eventually prescribed Fentanyl after he injured his back a few years ago. But he admits his chronic pain didn't cause his addiction.

"I lost my job ... my whole quality of life, being able to go hunting fishing, being able to do the things I wanted to do," said Walker, a recovering addict. "There's nights I cried myself to sleep."

Deeply depressed, Walker's began to abuse powerful medication like Fentanyl to dull his mental pain.

"It got to the point that I would blow through my prescriptions before the month was up," he said. "And then, I was using heroin or whatever on the side to get through to the next month."

Eventually, Walker got the help he needed at The Healing Place.

"We live in an environment where pain medication is very popular," said Karyn Hascal, President of The Healing Place.

Hascal believes opioid addiction has become an epidemic, more so than other drugs or even alcoholism. It's what is behind many of overdoses like Prince's.

"Fentanyl, as I understand it, is 50 times more powerful more potent than heroin."

But it's also a double edged sword. 

Hascal warns that limiting access to prescription pain medication could fan the flames.

 "Addicts are going to use something, and when it was more difficult to get prescription drugs from doctors and get them appropriately, then heroin was available."

So what's the solution?

Walker says before prescribing any kind of opio, doctors should evaluate the patients emotional state.

"The drugs and the alcohol are not the problem," Walker said. "It's what the person's going through, what the person is dealing with, that is the problem."

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