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Prince-Inspired Opioid Treatment Center Opens in Carmichael

CARMICHAEL -- While tears may be shed the world over as millions of Prince fans mark the second anniversary of his passing this weekend, one Carmichael physician assistant is determined that one dove, the purple dove, will be focused on hope, not hardship.

"In doing this I feel like I'm not only saving lives, I'm honoring a man that did so much for others," said Anette Boatswain, PA-C. "And that's why I had to do this under the umbrella of his name."

Boatswain is opening an opioid treatment center dedicated to freeing the average person from the dangerous pull of the drugs that took the life of a musical legend.

Investigators in Minnesota say that in his battle with chronic pain from a career of over-the-top performances, Prince took fake Vicodin, which turned out to be laced with fentanyl. It killed him.

Such drugs are killing so many other Americans, President Donald Trump has declared the opioid crisis an epidemic.

"It's an enormous problem," Boatswain told FOX40. "In one week alone I saw three patients that were not coming to see me for that problem. However, when I drug tested them there it is."

It is something Boatswain has discovered again and again as she's worked with psychiatric patients who may have never admitted they were struggling with something else.

At The Purple Dove, surrounded by reminders of a superstar who faced what they are, she will offer Suboxone. It is a drug that can wean addicts off what they're craving for good. It blocks receptors that mark the euphoria of taking opioids.

She hopes the thin strip of medication placed under the tongue will be the thin margin of strength they'll need to begin a different kind of life.

Boatswain wants to help as many people as possible with the new clinic but the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is holding her back.

"The first year that you receive your authorization you're only allowed 30 patients for the first year. Then after that you can request to increase that number to 100," she said.

There's no patient cap for doctors prescribing the problematic painkillers in the first place.

"We really want to see these laws changed so we can make a dent in the problem," Boatswain said.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine is the group lobbying the DEA for change.

While some are able to take Suboxone short-term and remain opioid-free, others stay on the medication for a lifetime in order to control their addiction. To be accepted at The Purple Dove as a patient you must be evaluated by Boatswain and her nurse and be in withdrawal or near to withdrawal for the process to work.