President Obama & Macklemore Say It Loud & Clear: Opioid Addiction is Killing Us (Video)

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Causing more American deaths a year than traffic accidents, drug overdoses – not just in street form like heroin but also in prescription form like painkillers – have become a pandemic disease in the United States. Because prescription pills can be extremely costly and difficult to get to, many abusers begin to turn to harder drugs to appease the pang of addiction, resulting in what is one of the deadliest drug-related mortality rates in history. The cycle is vicious and often involves not only drug abusers but also the pharmaceutical companies who make it easy and sometimes even lucrative for doctors to over-prescribe things like Percocet and Oxycontin, and so finding a solution to the ongoing crisis often invites a discussion of overhauling an entire medical system. However, one realm in which the movement to solve the problem is succeeding by leaps and bounds is in raising awareness that the problem even exists. And now, two big names are lending their voices to the cause.

In a video released by the White House, President Barack Obama and rapper Macklemore discuss frankly the numbers behind the opioid addiction – something which Macklemore himself can attest to. Having publicly referenced his own struggles with prescription pills, he has made his desire to help others in the fight even more publicly known. “I’m here with President Obama because I take this personally,” he begins. “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.” President Obama follows Macklemore’s point with some vivid imagery, saying “addiction doesn’t always start in some dark alley. Sometimes it starts in a medicine cabinet,” referring to the sick relationship between doctors and patients that sometimes develops when an addict begins to see a doctor as a dealer. Together, these two men discuss the terrifying statistics behind painkiller abuse, including the fact that 44% of Americans know someone who is addicted to prescription pills, that opioid addiction affects people of all colors and economic strata, and that opioid-related deaths have tripled since 2000. Such numbers are why President Obama is urging Congress to pass more than $1 billion on treatment and research.

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However, this powerful video message ends on a positive note, with President Obama outlining steps his administration is taking to combat the epidemic. In closing, the two emphasize the need for open, public, and honest conversations about drug addiction in addition to accessible resources and strong communities before revealing that a longer, exhaustive conversation on the topic will air on MTV later this year.