Open Letter to Prince’s Supporters and Devoted Fans

Open Letter to Prince's Supporters and Devoted Fans, Lynn R Webster, MD, Pain, Addiction

Fans and Supporters Saddened by Loss of Prince

When the news broke about the death of Prince, and reporters began to link his death to a possible opioid addiction, I empathized with his fan base and supporters who were deeply saddened by the loss. All the facts weren’t in — they’re still not — but I could already see the outline of a grim story beginning to unfold. And I felt empathy for the man who was the focal point of that story.

Prince was a musical icon, and he was inseparable from 1980s pop culture. He was part of our environment and, for many, he seemed to be part of our intimate community. We had been able to connect with him through his musical performances, his philanthropy, his faith, the way he inspired us, or some combination of all those things.

Based on all the news stories, which are still reporting only partial facts, I feel that I probably understand one aspect of Prince’s private life because I’ve devoted most of my professional life to finding answers for people with chronic pain and addiction. Every time we lose someone to chronic pain or addiction — or both — it represents sadness for so many but, at the same time, it is an opportunity for us all.

Better and Safer Pain Treatments

If and when medical research brings about better and safer pain treatments, lives will be saved. I yearn for the day when we won’t have to mourn the pain-related deaths of musical icons, pop culture superstars, artists, athletes, politicians, neighbors, mothers, fathers, grandparents, sons, daughters, and friends.

Just as we can now cure some types of cancer, we may one day be able to safely and effectively treat chronic pain. I hope I live to see the day when treating chronic pain becomes as simple and straightforward as, for example, treating a sprained finger or a case of bronchitis.

However, even though the pain-related death of anyone is a devastating for those who love them, it also represents another opportunity to spread the message of compassion. It’s another chance to recognize that needing medication isn’t a moral failure, and opioid addiction isn’t a character flaw.

Prince Didn’t Deserve to Suffer From Pain. Nobody Does.

While we wait for all of the medical evidence to come in about how Prince died, I would like members of the public to know that he didn’t deserve to suffer from pain or addiction. Nobody deserves to suffer.

To Prince fans and supporters, I understand that I’m preaching to the choir. You loved him, and you have suffered a great loss. My condolences go out to each of you.

I view the sad ending of Prince’s life as a boundless tragedy for his fans, family members, and friends. However, I see the media’s respectful coverage of his death as a sign of hope that, one day, we will all understand and support the need for better, and more effective, pain treatments.

Purchase my book The Painful Truth: What Chronic Pain Is Really Like and Why It Matters to Each of Us (available on Amazon) or read a free excerpt here.

the painful truth, lynn webster, md, chronic pain

Find me here:

Amazon and Facebook

Copyright 2016, Lynn Webster, MD


  1. […] The Painful Truth […]

  2. Abby Wyschogrod on June 20, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    I am disturbed by the media’s reporting of Prince’s untimely death. The news stated he died of a fentanyl overdose, but no specifics were given. Was the fentanyl prescribed by a physician? If it was a medical prescription, did Prince maintain the instructions given by his physician or was misusing his ‘script? Was it medical grade or just some mix off the street? Did he he obtain the fentynal illegally?

    By not drilling down on the nature of the fentanyl Prince died from, the press erroneously implies that fentanyl is a dangerous drug. Many suffers of chronic pain use fentanyl as an important part of their pain control regime.Anything else encourages the media and the public to think this helpful drug be banned or make it more difficult for patients to obtain the drug for its proven therapeutic use.

Leave a Comment