Prince's death reportedly linked to opioid addiction

Prince's death reportedly linked to opioid addiction

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Just a week after Prince's death, authorities say the musician had opioid medication on him when he was found in his Minnesota home.

Opiate use and abuse isn't isolated to rock-stars with experts saying it's a growing problem across the country and here in Central Virginia.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are more than 200,000 cases of opioid addiction and dependence per year.

While one recovery specialist says the conversation is ongoing, he says anything to keep it in the forefront could save lives.

The group at the McShin Foundation is in various stages of recovery, including leader David Rook.

"I think I was age 15 when I got my first prescription. I don't know if I was addicted at that point, but I was certainly hooked," remembers McShin Operations Manager and former addict David Rook.

Rook's taste for the drug grew as he did. After almost 20 years of using, he's been clean for more than four years.

Now, he's devoted to helping former addicts recover.

"The majority of our clients right now, in this building, are in recovery from opiate addiction and they all have a similar story," he says.

"It all starts out with an injury or surgery. They get prescribed pain medication and at some point, they get cut off from the pain medication without any recovery support what so ever," Rock explained.

In the wake of Prince's death, reports have surfaced that he was dealing with a similar addiction after hip surgery several years. News of the addiction isn't surprising to the group.

To get here, almost everyone has been there.

"Once upon a time, I smoked a little meth and then graduated onto heroin," says Michael Hollier.

20-year-old Hollier is just eight days into his recovery.

Along the walls, Hollier noticed a banner on the wall showing the faces of lives claimed by drug addiction.

He knew one of the teens and had stories about others.

"Out of my friend group I don't know anyone who has OD'd once, they've OD'd, they've OD'd twice, three times," he says.

While recent community meetings are bringing attention to the issue, Rook says this is a disease that doesn't discriminate and crosses every segment of society.

"The U.S. makes up 5% of the world population -80% of opiate prescribed go to that 5%," explains Rook. "It's a comprehensive effort, it takes counseling, it takes doctors, it takes recovery people."

Rook says it's never too late to get help.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there are a number of local resources that are available:

-    McShin Foundation, 804-249-1845, www.mcshin.org

-    The Healing Place, 804-230-1217, http://caritasva.org/healingplace.html

-    Saara, 804-762-4445, http://www.saara.org/

Copyright 2016 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved