Obama: Hi, everybody. I've got a special guest with
me this week:
Macklemore. Now, for those of you who don't share the
same love for hip-hop that I do, he's a Grammy-winning artist, but he
also an advocate who's giving voice to a disease that we too often
just whisper about: the disease of addiction.
Macklemore: Hey, everybody. I'm here with President
Obama because I take this personally. I abused prescription
drugs and I battled addiction. If I hadn't gotten the help that I
needed when I needed it, I definitely would not be here today. And I want
to help others facing the same challenges that I did.
Obama: And drug overdoses now take more lives every
year than traffic accidents. Deaths from opioid overdoses have
tripled since 2000. A lot of [the] time, they're from legal drugs
prescribed by a doctor. So, addiction doesn't always start in
some dark alley; it often starts in a medicine cabinet. In
a new study released this month found that 44 percent of
Americans know someone who has been addicted to prescription
Macklemore: I didn't just know someone -- I lost
someone. 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 a[n] 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.
Obama: That's why just talking about this crisis
isn't enough. We need to get treatment to more people who need
it. My Administration is working with communities to reduce
overdose deaths, including with medication. 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: I know recovery isn't easy or quick, but
along with the 12-step program, treatment has saved my life.
And recovery works. We need our leaders in Washington to fund it,
and for people to know how to find it.
Obama: We all need to do more to make that happen.
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. This week, the House passed several bills
about opioids -- which is great -- but unless they also make investments in
more treatment, it won't get Americans the help that they need. On
top of funding, doctors also need more training about the power
of pain medication they prescribe, and the risks that those pain
Another way our country can help those suffering in private is
to make this conversation public.
Macklemore: When you're going through it, it's hard
to imagine there could be anything worse than addiction. But
shame and the stigma associated with the disease keeps too many
people from seeking the help that they actually 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.
Obama: The good news is, there's hope. When we talk
about opioid abuse as the public health problem that it is, more
people will seek the help that 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
Macklemore: We have to tell people who need help that
it's okay to ask for it. We've got to make sure they know where to
Obama: 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.