Grammy award-winning rapper Macklemore and President Barack Obama teamed up last weekend to talk about the national opioid addiction crisis by calling for Congress to increase funding for addiction treatment.
The president invited the addiction and recovery advocate to the presidential weekly address to talk from a personal standpoint about the seriousness of drug addiction and the consequences of abusing prescription opioids. Macklemore has candidly shared through his song “Kevin” the loss of a friend to addiction as well as his own personal struggle with prescription painkillers. “I’m here with President Obama because I take this personally,” Macklemore said in the video.
Deaths from drug overdoses have now surpassed traffic accident deaths, and overdoses from prescription painkillers have tripled since 2000. Over the past two decades the surge in the prescribing of opioid painkillers has come about largely due to a significant amount of Americans suffering from chronic pain as well as the assumption that opioids are relatively safe medications for treating it.
Macklemore and President Obama are making a documentary about the epidemic, and MTV is set to air it this summer. Together, they present a case for the $1.1 billion of funding for medication-assisted treatment, expansion of access to 700 substance use treatment providers, and evaluation of treatment programs using medication-assisted treatment. President Obama has already included $500 million in his budget for overdose prevention.
The address comes on the heels of the latest legislation passed by the House to help states pay for addiction prevention and treatment. The bill authorizes $103 million a year in grants to help states pay for the prevention and treatment of addiction to heroin and prescription opiates, but because of the way Congress approves spending, the funding still needs to be approved in separate appropriations legislation.