On Saturday, Grammy-winning artist Macklemore joined President Obama for his weekly address. The pair aimed to give "voice to a disease we too often just whisper" — opioid addiction.
Macklemore confessed in a 2014 interview his previous addiction to Oxycontin and his subsequent experience in rehab, calling the drug "synthetic heroin."
The CDC says that the majority of drug overdose deaths involve an opioid, and a recent poll found that 44 percent of Americans say they personally know someone who is addicted.
"I didn't just know someone – I lost someone," Macklemore said during the president's address. "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."
While Obamacare marketplace health care plans cover addiction treatment, and the House recently passed several bills regarding opioids, the president noted that more funding is urgently needed to help people addicted to painkillers.
"Shame and the stigma associated with the disease keeps too many people from seeking the help they need," Macklemore said. "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."
Obama remains encouraged that America can overcome this opioid addiction crisis.
"The good news is, there's hope," he said. "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 Macklemore and millions of Americans have. We'll see fewer preventable deaths and fewer broken families."
MTV will air the full conversation between Obama and Macklemore during the summer.