Celebrities are frequently using their platforms to speak out on subjects that matter to them, but it doesn’t always turn out to be a history-making event.
On Saturday morning, rapper Macklemore joined President Obama in his weekly address to discuss the opioid crisis in America, marking the first time a non-administration official has joined the president’s address, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“I’m here with President Obama because I take this personally,” Macklemore said, before going on to talk about his own history of abusing prescription drugs and addiction. He also talked about what he’s lost to addiction — his close friend, Kevin. “My friend Kevin overdosed on painkillers when he was just 21 years old. Addiction is like any other disease — it doesn’t discriminate.”
America has a substantial problem with opioid addiction. Rates of overdoses from prescription drugs have more than doubled since 2001, with deaths from opioids in general more than tripling. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 4.3 million Americans abused prescription painkillers in 2014, a common entry point for opioid addiction.
“Addiction doesn't always start in some dark alley — it often starts in a medicine cabinet," Obama said.
Both Obama and Macklemore said that they wanted to eliminate the stigma that prevents people from asking for help. “When you’re going through it, it’s hard to imagine there could be anything worse than addiction," said Macklemore. “Shame and the stigma associated with the disease keeps too many people from seeking the help they need.”
He encouraged those who need help to call 1-800-662-HELP, the number of a national hotline to help those struggling with addiction.
Macklemore is currently working on a documentary about opioid addiction, which is scheduled to air on MTV this summer, according to Billboard. The meeting with President Obama will be included in the hour-long documentary, which has no title or air date yet.