Prince’s drug addiction ended up with the same result as way too many: death. Although the open secret was well-explained, what could and should have happened is not discussed. The answer is at drug treatment and recovery. Was there any attempt to get the guy off drugs? Artists have always killed themselves by alcohol and drugs. Going in for treatment has helped so many to find recovery. So why not with Prince? Or maybe there was an attempt? Sort of like his hip replacement — who knew?
Words to consider. Stigma and shame. The victim gets blamed for the addiction. Denial. The fear of the consequences of being exposed. Enabling. Loved ones giving a pass on dangerous actions. Hitting bottom. When a guy almost dies, no one wants to be the snitch. Intervention. Confronting people with the extent of their addiction. Assessment. Understanding the role of issues like pain and depression.
Too few people with addictions get to intervention and the assessment process. To borrow a phrase, when will they ever learn?
Joel Stegner, Edina
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Yes, Prince is a legend, Minnesota-grown and -raised. He was also an addict. As much as we want to immortalize him, he was an addict. Two years after his self-inflicted death, we continue to immortalize him. What is this message sending to our young people? Be a rock star and use drugs — we will always love you? We can continue to admire and praise Prince’s work, but he was battling demons, as many of us are. Let us put this to rest now. We admire his work, not his addiction.
Jeanne Kenady, St. Louis Park
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Would that every overdose victim received this much attention.
Harald Eriksen, Brooklyn Park
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With regard to Mark Osler’s comments on the opioid crisis (“Fizzling out of Prince case shows opioids are winning,” April 22), he serves up the usual prescriptions for relief, including reducing demand and tracking how fentanyl is manufactured and imported. The latter is not a mystery. Numerous reports have traced it to China, so the issue is political, at least in part. However, he offers no recommendations on how to reduce demand, other than a call for national leadership (a legitimate issue), but this runs afoul of the current political stance in Washington that is adding to the root cause of the opioid epidemic: social and economic inequality.
I base this on the fact that drug overdose deaths began to climb in 1990, during an era from 1973 to 1993 when some $255 billion in wealth shifted from the middle class to the top, with no increase in income for workers. Not surprisingly, rates of suicide began to rise, and markedly so among the poor and less-educated. Why should we be surprised that many would resort to opioids in the face of joblessness and few prospects for advancement? Indeed, we find that in 1990, the U.S. had fewer than 10,000 deaths from overdoses, but deaths rose almost vertically to 40,000 in 2010 and 50,000 in 2015.
Yes, Big Pharma and physicians played significant roles in this epidemic, but absent a shift toward improving the lives of people lower on the socioeconomic ladder, the drug epidemic and death rates will continue to climb.
Dr. Charles E. Dean, Apple Valley
You want a moonshot? Now, this would be a moonshot.
While I do agree that showing prices to patients may very well be a good thing (“One big step: Show patients the prices,” April 23), the idea that this constitutes a “moonshot” describes to me how uninspired we’ve become. Compared to the technological, political and human achievement that going to the moon represented in the 1960s, a price list of medical services is such a minor achievement. It is most telling that the political challenge of such an obviously consumer-friendly policy would warrant such a comparison in the first place.
I also think we should be looking at health care “moonshots.” But where are our inspired ideas? Where is the vision to move us forward in such a truly bold way? To me, the idea of a health care “moonshot” starts — not ends — with the idea of universal health care. If you can’t be at least that bold, then comparisons to the monumental achievements of the Apollo program are underwhelming and unwarranted.
Let’s capture the American spirit again and not be afraid to make big, bold ideas a reality in this country.
Geoffrey Zahn, Plymouth
What is the disconnect?
Referencing the results of the Star Tribune Minnesota Poll on guns laws reported April 22 and April 23, I have the following observation. If the overwhelming majority of Minnesotans want reasonable restrictions on gun ownership (and note that no one is talking about eliminating gun ownership), why is the leadership refusing to introduce bills for general discussion? Perhaps we should take a long look at who is funding these mainly Republican representatives — might it just be the NRA?
Linda Kelley Freivalds, Wayzata
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We need to replace the term “gun control” with “gun safety” or “sensible gun laws.” And we need the media to join us. I was dismayed to see “gun control” in the online headline of the April 22 article about the Minnesota Poll results. “Gun control” is an outdated and polarizing term. It conjures images of one group wresting the guns out of another group’s hands. It feels negative and threatening. And because of that, it unnecessarily divides us before we can even get a conversation started.
Every time the media refers to “gun control,” one more brick is added to the wall that divides us and keeps us from solving our gun violence problem. We need to reframe the discussion to focus on gun safety, a positive goal that all responsible gun owners can get behind. The movement for sensible, enforceable gun laws needs the voices of responsible gun owners — especially military-trained, law enforcement, hunters and sportsmen — to ensure that the most practical solutions are being considered. Safety is a goal we can all rally around and work together to achieve. We must redirect our focus toward safety and encourage the media to join us.
Jo Haugen, Eagan
Extending the analogy …
An April 23 letter writer presents an interesting analogy about Enbridge’s Line 3, asking a hypothetical question about plumbing replacement. Continuing the analogy, if your home’s plumbing was so bad you had to replace it, would you install the new plumbing in someone else’s house? That’s what Enbridge is proposing to do with Line 3, running it through land that has never had a pipeline before. If your plumbing existed only to carry water through your house to profit someone else, would you tell the plumbing contractor to take a hike? I sure would.
Janet Hill, McGregor, Minn.