I've seen my people's dreams die I've seen what they can be denied And "weeds not a drug" - that's denial Groundhog Day life repeat each time I've seen Oxycontin take three lives I grew up with them, we used to chief dimes I've seen cocaine bring out the demons inside Cheating and lying Friendship cease, no peace in the mind Stealing and taking anything to fix the pieces inside Broken, hopeless, headed nowhere Only motivation for what the dealer's supplying That rush, that drug, that dope Those pills, that crumb, that roach Thinking I would never do that, not that drug And growing up nobody ever does Until you're stuck, looking in the mirror like I can't believe what I've become Swore I was gonna be someone And growing up everyone always does We sell our dreams and our potential To escape through that buzz
– Macklemore, “Otherside”
Macklemore’s drug addiction is no secret. He does not hide it from his fans, from the public eye, despite the stigma that addiction so often carries. Rather, the famed musician uses his addiction story – his battle with drug abuse and his journey of recovery – to increase awareness amongst his followers; to show that addiction is in fact a disease, not a choice, and that it is all too hard to escape alone. But with the right support, the right motivation, and the right drug treatment, drug addiction can be overcome.
It was in a 2014 interview with MTV News that Macklemore really disclosed his intimate history of drug abuse and addiction. The drug that remained at the forefront of his conversation with MTV, and the drug that remains at the forefront of America’s drug epidemic, is Oxycontin.
According to a recent study, 44 percent of Americans know someone who has been addicted to painkiller drugs. And since the year 2000, opiate overdose deaths from drugs like Oxycontin have tripled. All over the country, people, youth, young adults, are all succumbing to the powerful nature of this drug. Many of these people are our loved ones, our friends and family. Macklemore has known – and used to be one of – the drug’s victims.
Macklemore says that by far, the most intense drug he had ever done was Oxycontin. He did not use it for a long period of time – maybe five or six days at a time each month, for only a few months, and then stopped. But even in those week-long spurts of Oxycontin abuse, he became addicted. He saw the darker sides of the opioid epidemic firsthand, the toll that even legal, prescription pills can take on the body. He explains to MTV News,
“It’s synthetic heroin. That’s what it is; that is the definition of it. And seeing the grip that it had and just doing it for five or six days, sweating through my sheets coming off of it, shaking… I remember going outside and just balling. Like, there is no happiness left in my body, in my mind. There is no serotonin, there is nothing that’s making me happy, that’s gone. You realize why this pill has become an epidemic.”
Macklemore’s newest music video, “Drug Dealer,” portrays this very state of withdrawal. From the beginning of the video, Macklemore is depicted sweating profusely through his sheets, writhing in bed as he comes off a painkiller binge. Throughout the video, he hates on what he has become and what drugs have made of him, singing, “This is not what I started. Walking carcass, I lost everything I wanted.”
While Macklemore’s “Drug Dealer” video is undoubtedly about the damaging experience of drug addiction and withdrawal, it is also a statement about prescription drug abuse in America. The rapper’s recent hit offers a ruthless, yet realistic, perspective of how often an individual’s addiction is fueled by doctors’ notes and pharmacy visits. “My drug dealer was a doctor,” the chorus of his 2016 single begins, “…he said that he would heal me, but he only gave me problems.”
Many experts today stand by this statement by Macklemore. Truth is, the nation’s current opioid problem is largely in the hands of the pharmaceutical companies who once downplayed the dangers of prescription painkillers and the doctors who, to this day, still overprescribe opioid drugs to patients.
This is an ongoing conversation, one that has ignited a desire for change throughout the nation. In a Weekly Address from the White House, President Obama and Macklemore discuss this need for change. Together, they recognize that addiction does not always start on the streets. It can start in one’s own home, in one’s own medicine cabinet. And like any other disease, it can happen to any of us. Addiction does not discriminate. Drawn from his own personal experience with addiction, Macklemore explains,
“When you’re going through it, it’s hard to imagine there is anything worse than addiction. But shame and the stigma associated with addiction keeps too many people from seeking the help that they actually need. Addiction isn’t a personal choice or personal failing, and sometimes it takes more than a strong will to get better. It takes a strong community and accessible resources… We have to tell people who need help that it’s okay to ask for it. We got to make sure they know where to get it.”
Macklemore truly believes that it was professional treatment, along with 12-step meetings and a supportive sober network, that had saved his life. Without these factors as a part of his recovery, the famed rapper recognizes that he would not be where he is today.
“It has been very important for me to be a part of a recovery community, to actively be around my people. Because they understand me. They get it. Getting that from an outside perspective is one thing – someone that doesn’t have your issues – that’s one thing. But to be around people that have the same disease, that have a conversation about it, check in, hold each other accountable, inspire each other, that has meant a lot to me.”
Macklemore’s drug addiction is a moving story, an inspiring story, one that encourages us to help other addicted individuals find the support they need. Those battling drug dependence, specifically opioid dependence, need help from their loved ones and their community. It’s time for us to step up. If you or someone you love is battling drug addiction, know where to seek help. Call Turnbridge’s young adult drug rehab center today at 877-581-1793 to learn more.