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As part of his sit-down with President Obama this week to discuss the nation’s opioid addiction problem, Macklemore made history on Saturday morning as the first non-administration official to appear on the president’s weekly address, according to a White House spokesperson.
The joint spot on the address — typically reserved for political figures — followed Macklemore’s visit to the White House on Thursday to talk about opioid addiction with President Obama as part of a one-hour documentary about opioid abuse the rapper is working on with MTV that will air later this year.
“I’m here with President Obama because I take this personally,” Macklemore said in the address. “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.”
Obama noted that overdoses currently take more lives than traffic accidents every year, with overdose deaths doubling over the past decade, often due to legal drugs prescribed by doctors. “So addiction doesn’t always start in some dark alley — it often starts in a medicine cabinet,” Obama said, citing a new study that found that 44 percent of Americans know someone who had been addicted to prescription pain killers.
The “Downtown” rapper has candidly discussed his history of drug abuse, tackling the drug-related death of his close friend “Kevin” on This Unruly Mess I’ve Made. “I didn’t just know someone — I lost someone. My friend Kevin overdosed on painkillers when he was just 21 years old,” Macklemore said. “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.”
Macklemore made the trip to D.C. as part of a one-hour documentary he’s hosting for MTV slated to air this summer. The documentary will continue filming over the next several months and will include scenes of Macklemore meeting with young adults who’ve been impacted by addiction and telling their stories. No air date or title has been announced yet for the special. Billboard reached out to Macklemore’s camp for further comment on the meeting but had not heard back at press time.
“When you’re going through it, it’s hard to imagine there could be anything worse than addiction,” Macklemore said. “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.”
The rapper said he and the president had a “powerful conversation” about opioid abuse and recovery options at the White House, a discussion he plans to continue during the MTV special. In the meantime, Macklemore encouraged those who are struggling to find treatment in their area by calling 1-800-662-HELP.
“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,” Macklemore said. “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,” Obama added.
This article originally appeared on Billboard.com.
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