Prince: Heroes are human

Prince performs during the halftime show at the Super Bowl XLI football game at Dolphin Stadium in Miami on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2007. Photo: Chris O’Meara/Associated Press.

Adoration is pretty much the perfect word to describe Prince, his Twin Cities fans and, perhaps more important, the music media that covered his every move and, too often, seemed to form a protective cordon around him.

So it’s not surprising that there’s a rising current of pushback against an increasing drumbeat surrounding his death two weeks ago that reveal something about the superstar that was missing from the details of his life: He was a human.

The Star Tribune reports today that an addiction specialist in California was to fly to Minnesota to begin the process of trying to get Prince into rehab.

After he was first contacted by Prince’s representatives, Howard Kornfeld requested that a Twin Cities physician check on Prince and stabilize him, sources said.

It was hoped that Prince would agree to go to California for long-term care under Kornfeld’s supervision, which would include round-the-clock nursing support, Mauzy said.

Prince’s representatives called Howard Kornfeld because of his reputation as a nationally known addiction researcher, Mauzy said.

According to Howard Kornfeld’s business website, Recovery Without Walls is a “personalized outpatient clinic, specializing in innovative, evidence-based medical treatment for chronic pain and drug and alcohol addiction.” It says that the clinic’s medical team “works together to resolve problems that other clinicians have found difficult, if not impossible to solve.”

If true, it makes Prince’s death all the more tragic, robbing the world of his artistic genius.

But it also challenges those who believe such reporting reduces Prince’s life and legacy to ask why we would think so, especially when we embrace the idea that addiction is an illness and a disease. Or at least we say we do.

“The man had a drug addiction,” a wise commenter on the Strib’s story said. “That does nothing to diminish the contributions he gave to us. What it does do, it proves even as a superstar musician, he still was just as human as the rest of us, with many of the challenges the rest of us may have to endure in our lifetimes too.”

A few letter writers in the paper this week said maybe Prince’s death will bring more attention to the growing problem of addiction to painkillers, heroin, and opioids. Maybe it’ll shed more light on the underlying “serves ’em right” attitude of some law enforcement officials who insist it will “send the wrong message” to allow police to carry the drug that will revive a person headed for certain death in an overdose.

The stories about the scourge of cheap heroin around Minnesota and deaths in Hibbing, Virginia, Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, Cass Lake, Dillworth, Marble, Beltrami County and Mille Lacs County have been endless over the last year or so. Prince’s death should make us ask ourselves a question: Why did it take Prince’s death to make us care?

Related: What “Addiction” Really Means: The reporting on Prince’s death reveals how much we don’t understand about chronic pain management. (Slate)

Funds for heroin overdose antidote not spent (KARE)