MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the death of Prince from an accidental overdose of the opioid fentanyl.
Addiction experts and public health officials agree his passing has helped elevate discussion and awareness of the opioid epidemic here in Minnesota and around the world.
The figures are staggering. In Hennepin County alone, opioid deaths rose from 97 in 2015 to 153 in 2016 – that’s a 57 percent jump.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar has said Prince’s passing has helped galvanize lawmakers to propose measures such as the creation of a national opioid register to try to prevent addicts from picking up multiple prescriptions.
Advocates say his death is also a reminder that opioid addiction is an equal opportunity disease — that even someone as talented and wealthy as Prince can be a victim.
“That he died of this really brings home the fact that over a third of the people that are prescribed opioids become addicted to them,” said Lexi Reed Holtum, the executive director of the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation.
Advocates say Prince’s passing has also led to laws and regulations across the country to make it easier for members of the general public to get access to Narcan, the antidote to an opioid overdose.