On Saturday, May 14, 2016, during a weekly address, President Barak Obama held a very candid discussion that was focused on addiction. Alongside the president was Grammy Award-winning rap artist Macklemore, who himself is a recovered addict. Macklemore was there to help give a public voice to a disease which is far too often whispered about: the disease of addiction.

Landing on the topic of opioid use in the U.S., the president stated that while the House of Representatives have already passed several bills addressing the use and potential over-subscription of opioids, far more funding for opioid-related treatment is needed for Americans who are addicted to the drug.

Macklemore’s position during the address came from more of a hands-on account of drug dependency. As a former addict, Macklemore attested to rehabilitation as helping him pull through his substance abuse to where he now lives a healthy drug-free life.

“If I hadn’t gotten the help I needed when I needed it,” Macklemore stated. “I might not be here today.”

President Obama and Macklemore agreed that while funding does help Americans afflicted by opioid use, more needs to be done to stem what has become a near-systemic connection that in many cases can begin with prescription drug use which could then expand into full-blown addiction.

Another point of agreement between the president and the award-winning hip-hop artist was that a strong public voice needs to be given to those who suffer their addiction in private. The president then went on to say that the more we recognize substance abuse disorder as a public health issue, the more people will get the help they need.


President Obama highlighted the very real fact that opioid addiction can begin with legally prescribed opiates as painkillers.

Macklemore echoed this sentiment by explaining he lost a friend to an addiction which began with legally prescribed painkillers. The friend was only 21 years old.

“Addiction is like any other disease,” Macklemore said. “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.”

The President added: “That’s why just talking about this crisis isn’t enough – we need to get treatment to more people who need it.”

President Obama stated that his administration is actively working with communities to reduce overdose deaths, including those from medication.

Additionally, President Obama said, “We’re working with law enforcement to help people get into treatment instead of jail.  And under Obamacare, health plans in the Marketplace have to include coverage for treatment.”

Macklemore, citing that while 12-step programs can be tough, they are necessary. “Recovery works,” he said. With that, Macklemore put out the challenge to Washington to offer more substance abuse funding, and for those who suffer addiction to know how to find what program will help them recover.


Saturday’s discussion transitioned into how the president expected to execute his plans for a stronger anti-drug defense.

“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.”

Even as the president stated this, in follow up to his announcement of the House passing several bills about opioids, he did stress, “Unless they (the House) also make actual investments in more treatment, it won’t get Americans the help they need.”

Mr. Obama also called for additional funding for doctors who administer painkillers to have more training as to knowing the power of the drugs they are prescribing.


Macklemore pressed the more personal side of drug addiction, when he cited the shame and stigma that in many cases accompanies one’s addiction. The rapper insisted that those with substance abuse should overcome their ill feelings toward themselves so that they can focus more fully on recovery. Shame and stigma should not keep 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,” Macklemore said. “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.”


President Obama did highlight one important fact of drug abuse: the more it is talked about, the more comfortable people will feel about seeking out treatment.

“More people will find the strength to recover,” President Obama stated. “Just like Macklemore and millions of Americans have.  We’ll see fewer preventable deaths and fewer broken families.”

The president went on to say that with a country faced with the very real presence of substance abuse, we as Americans 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,” Mr. Obama said.


The conversation, and many like it, will continue inside not just the White House, but in Congress as well. As to the president’s discussion with Macklemore, it’s due to air this summer on the MTV network. Keep an eye out for it!

If you or a loved one have an addiction to alcohol, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.

Rapper Macklemore and Obama Discuss Substance Abuse