The Grammy Award-winning rapper is the first non-administration official to join a weekly presidential address.
The topic is something Macklemore is quite familiar with. The Seattle rhymer has struggled with addiction to prescription drugs and even had a relapse back in 2014. Macklemore also detailed the drug-related death of his close friend on the This Unruly Mess I’ve Made track, “Kevin.”
Macklemore visited the White House on Thursday (May 12) to discuss the ravages of opiate addiction and his own personal story. Macklemore and President Obama’s intimate one-on-one conversation that took place at the White House will also be part of a special one-hour MTV documentary.
— Macklemore (@macklemore) May 12, 2016
You can watch President Obama’s weekly address above.
Read the transcript of President Obama’s Weekly Address below.
POTUS: Hi, everybody. I’ve got a special guest with me this week – Macklemore. For those of you who don’t share the same love for hip-hop, he’s a Grammy-winning artist – but he’s also an advocate who’s giving voice to a disease we too often just whisper about: the disease of addiction.
MACKLEMORE: Hey, everybody. I’m here with President Obama because I take this personally. I have abused prescription drugs and battled addiction. If I hadn’t gotten the help I needed when I needed it, I might not be here today. And I want to help others facing the same challenges I did.
POTUS: Overdoses now take more lives every year than traffic accidents. Overdose deaths have doubled in the last decade. A lot of the time, they’re from legal drugs prescribed by a doctor. So addiction doesn’t always start in some dark alley – it often starts in a medicine cabinet. In fact, a new study released this month found that 44 percent of Americans know someone who has been addicted to prescription pain killers.
MACKLEMORE: I didn’t just know someone – I lost someone. My friend Kevin overdosed on painkillers when he was just 21 years old. Addiction is like any other disease – it doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care what color you are, whether you’re a guy or a girl, rich or poor, whether you live in the inner-city, a suburb, or rural America. This doesn’t just happen to other people’s kids or in some other neighborhood. It can happen to any of us.
POTUS: That’s why talking about this crisis isn’t enough – we need to get treatment to more people who need it. My administration is working with communities to reduce overdose deaths, including with medication. We’re working with law enforcement to help people get into treatment instead of jail. And under Obamacare, new health plans in the exchanges have to include coverage for treatment.
MACKLEMORE: I know recovery isn’t easy or quick, but along with the 12 step program, treatment has saved my life. Recovery works, and we need our leaders in Washington to fund it and make sure people know how to find it.
POTUS: We all need to do more to make that happen. I’ve asked Congress to expand access to recovery services, and to give first responders the tools they need to treat overdoses before it’s too late. This week, the House passed several bills about opioids – but unless they also make actual investments in more treatment, it won’t get Americans the help they need.
On top of funding, doctors also need more training about the power of the pain medication they prescribe, and the risks they carry. And another way our country can help those suffering in private is to make this conversation public.
MACKLEMORE: When you’re going through it, it’s hard to imagine there could be anything worse than addiction. Shame and the stigma associated with the disease keeps too many people from seeking the help they need. Addiction isn’t a personal choice or a personal failing. And sometimes it takes more than a strong will to get better – it takes a strong community and accessible resources.
POTUS: The good news is, there’s hope. When we talk about opioid abuse as the public health problem it is, more people will seek the help they need. More people will find the strength to recover, just like Ben and millions of Americans have. We’ll see fewer preventable deaths and fewer broken families.
MACKLEMORE: We have to tell people who need help that it’s OK to ask for it. We’ve got to make sure they know where to get it.
POTUS: We all have a role to play. Even if we haven’t fought this battle in our own lives, there’s a good chance we know someone who has, or who is.
MACKLEMORE: President Obama and I just had a powerful conversation here at the White House about opioid abuse, and what we can do about it. You can catch it this summer on MTV. And to find treatment in your area, call 1-800-662-HELP
POTUS: Thanks, and have a great weekend.