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Dahleen Glanton: Prince’s family should be outraged

April 24, 2018 GMT

I don’t know the people Prince considered to be his friends. I don’t know the kinds of things they did to warrant their place within the entertainer’s inner circle.

And it is impossible for anyone to say what may or may not have been in their hearts. But two years after the musician’s death, one thing is clear.

Prince Rogers Nelson’s friends betrayed him.

On Thursday, law enforcement investigators in Minnesota announced that no one would be charged in the 2016 death of the performer, whose body was found in an elevator in his Paisley Park home and recording studio.

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According to documents from the investigation released online last week, Prince had nearly 68 micrograms of fentanyl per liter of blood in his system at the time of his death. That’s 22 times the amount absorbed by a cancer patient who regularly wears a prescription fentanyl patch to manage pain.

The fentanyl tablets Prince concealed in aspirin bottles on a bedside table were obtained illegally. With so many people constantly clinging to his celebrity, someone surely knows how they ended up there.

But apparently no one is talking. And that’s a shame.

Prince’s cousin, Charles “Chazz” Smith, expressed the family’s outrage.

“I’m outraged by people in Prince’s inner circle not speaking up about what really happened. Those people who were around him when he died, they know what went on.”

Prince joins the ranks of other entertainment icons who publicly seemed to have it all but behind closed doors were withering in pain alone: Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, Heath Ledger, River Phoenix and Anna Nicole Smith, to name a few.

But there’s a particular sadness surrounding Prince’s death. According to investigators, he apparently did not know he was taking a synthetic opiate that could kill him.

While authorities found no indications of foul play, Carver County Attorney Mark Metz said Prince died after unknowingly taking a counterfeit Vicodin pill laced with fentanyl.

“Prince thought he was taking Vicodin and not fentanyl,” Metz said, adding that the counterfeit pills were “an exact imitation” of Vicodin pills. Prince reportedly suffered with severe hip pain for years.

But after a two-year exhaustive investigation, Metz’s office was unable to say definitively how the entertainer got his hands on them.

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Prince’s relatives are outraged, as they should be.

“I’m outraged by people in Prince’s inner circle not speaking up about what really happened,” said Smith, Prince’s cousin and drummer. “Those people who were around him when he died, they know what went on.”

No doubt, Prince placed his friends in categories as many of us do.

The truest friends are the ones whom we tell our deepest secrets. If our car runs out of gas on a deserted road at 3 o’clock in the morning, they are the ones we call. And they would be there in a flash.

Then there are friends who appear to be in our inner circle but really are not. We hold back certain information from them, not necessarily because we don’t trust them but because haven’t invested that much energy in the relationship. We hang out with them on occasion, but we might not talk again for weeks.

And there are friends who really aren’t friends at all. They are acquaintances. We might call them every now and then to say hello, but the conversation never ventures toward anything too personal. Everyone knows the boundaries and respects each other’s space.

There is nothing wrong with any of these types of friends, as long as everyone is clear about who fits where. When everyone stays in the right lane, their expectations are appropriate and no one ends up disappointed.

Some of us have many other categories of friends as well. And Prince had a fourth type — enablers. That’s not unusual for entertainers or anyone, for that matter, who has an addiction.

Sometimes enablers think they are doing right by you when they are, in fact, pushing you further down a destructive path. But sometimes, enablers don’t care about you at all. They want you to be so dependent on them that you always keep them around.

It is possible that Prince had too many of this type of friend in his life.

It is not uncommon for addicts to try and keep their addiction secret. Some of them do a great job hiding it — until they can’t. At some point, it inevitably becomes obvious.

It then becomes incumbent on the friend to decide which category they want to be in. Prince apparently surrounded himself with enablers.

Metz acknowledged that some of Prince’s friends might have enabled him as they tried to protect him. But after an extensive investigation, officials weren’t able to come up with credible evidence to charge anyone.

Prince’s enablers helped him slip into a doctor’s office after hours to get treated for the “jitters” when the fentanyl was wearing off. His enablers managed to get him prescription medication for a controlled substance — though not the one that killed him — in someone else’s name.

Prince, it turns out, had no real friends at all.

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