We’ve now learned that Tom Petty’s death was related to opioids/painkillers. This follows Prince’s death in 2016.
Dan Diamond of Politico writes:
In health care, there’s a quest for celebrity patients—a symbol who can galvanize change. It’s a strategy that’s worked before. Ryan White, a teenager in the 1980s, became the face of HIV/AIDS and helped drive research and reforms. More recently, actor Michael J. Fox raised awareness of Parkinson’s disease; Angelina Jolie’s op-ed about her breast cancer risk spurred a spike in genetic testing. That hasn’t really happened with painkiller deaths, perhaps because there are too many famous faces to pick from. Actors like Heath Ledger and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Musicians like Prince and Petty. And it’s far from a new trend. Even Elvis Presley, who died 41 years ago, was dealing with painkiller addiction.
I believe at one point we will as a country say enough is enough and address this head on. Congress will throw funding at it, boosting the biotechnology and rehab industries. But I think it will likely be grassroots organizations grounded in the principles of 12-step programs that will ultimately really make the difference.
On a different note, check out this video of Prince and Tom Petty performing at the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame together. Prince goes off. It’s crazy.
Addiction doesn’t discriminate. No one is immune.