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Macklemore Reflects on His Journey Through Addiction and Sobriety

Perhaps one of the most outspoken advocates for sobriety in the world of entertainment, Macklemore recently spoke out about hitting rock bottom prior to attending rehab in 2008. On the People’s Party podcast, stated that before he began his sobriety journey, he came very close to death.

“If it wasn’t for my pops having the 10 or 12 racks that it was when I first went to treatment and to spend that on me, I’d be f—ing dead. I wouldn’t be here right now. That’s not to be f—ing dramatic, that’s just what it is. I was about to die,” he told the hosts.

Benjamin Hammond Haggerty, better known by his stage name of Macklemore, started doing drugs as a teenager, and eventually was kicked out of high school for bad grades. In an interview with radio station KEXP, Macklemore recalled that from the time he began drinking and taking drugs at 14, he could not exercise moderation, and quickly became addicted to substance use.

“I’ve never been able to revert to some sort of social drinker or drug user. Because I couldn’t stop, it had a drastic negative impact on my life from a very early age,” he said.

As Macklemore found his footing as a performer in his twenties, his drug and alcohol use continued to spiral. In 2008, Macklemore’s father approached him with the idea of seeking treatment. After realizing that he would not be able to beat the disease on his own, he sought help.

Macklemore began his journey toward sobriety by attending a treatment program for 30 days. He suffered a relapse in 2011, which he references in his song “Starting Over,” and again in 2014. As he found continued fame through his music, he began to forge a new path, and a renewed commitment to sobriety, though staying sober in Hollywood was not without its challenges and temptations.

For Macklemore, staying sober means attending 12-step meetings and actively engaging in the sober community in order to connect with others and hold himself accountable. He has often noted that sobriety is fundamental to his daily life, and that he “will continue to struggle with addiction in some facet for the rest of [his] life.”

Over the years, Macklemore has spoken openly about his addiction to painkillers, including OxyContin and Percocet. He used his experience with opioids as the inspiration for his 2016 song “Drug Dealer,” which directly addresses the opioid epidemic and its connection to Big Pharma. At the time of the song’s release, Macklemore was also featured in an interview with then-President Barack Obama, where the two discussed the impacts of the opioid crisis in the United States.

“When you’re going through it, it’s hard to imagine anything being worse than addiction. But the shame and stigma associated with the disease keeps too many people from seeking the help they actually need. Addiction isn’t a personal choice or a personal failure,” he said in the discussion.

Now 37 years old, the Seattle native continues to speak out about the stigmas associated with drug addiction and recovery as he continues to release chart-topping hits. As a husband and a father of two, his first daughter’s impending arrival was the driving factor behind his long-term sobriety, following his relapse in 2014.

Macklemore serves as an inspiration to many, and uses his platform to share a message of hope—in addition to a stark reminder that community is critical to finding one’s path.

“There was a community that was there to support and love me unconditionally that had the same f—ing disease. There is a therapeutic value of one addict to another sharing their experience, strength and hope [and] that has saved my f—ing life and continues to save my life,” he said.

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