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Macklemore Reveals Relapse During 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic

Rapper Macklemore has been a long-standing inspirational figure in the recovery community—and his efforts in sharing his story of addiction and sobriety have resonated with millions of fans around the world. Macklemore, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, has been outspoken throughout his journey, as he works to shed the stigma of addiction while fighting the daily battle of sobriety himself.

In a recent interview with Dax Shepard—who is also in addiction recovery—Macklemore revealed that he experienced a relapse during the COVID-19 pandemic. He admitted his setback after acknowledging Shepard’s bravery in sharing his own relapse story in September of last year.

In an episode of Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert, Macklemore said, “It was within two months of my COVID relapse, and the disease of addiction is crazy.”

Later in the episode, Macklemore commended Shepard for sharing his story, stating that, “”It made me feel, as someone that had relapsed again, like a month or two before, that I’m not alone.” Shepard, like Macklemore, suffered a relapse after being in recovery for a significant period of time; Shepard had been sober for 16 years, while Macklemore had been sober for 11 years, with a few setbacks in between.

As both entertainers come forward in sharing their setbacks, there is a valuable lesson for many to learn: recovery requires a daily fight, regardless how long someone has been free from substances. Though perhaps an even more important lesson is that relapse is not a shameful event, and for many, it is stepping stone on the path to lifelong recovery.

Earlier this year, Macklemore made headlines as he shared his recovery story with Talib Kweli. In that interview, he reflected on how he made it to treatment—and how lucky he was that his father could afford the treatment he needed at the time.

“If it wasn’t for my pops having the 10 or 12 racks that it was when I first went to treatment and being willing to spend that on me, I’d be f—ing dead,” he said.

While Macklemore is a Grammy winner, husband, and soon-to-be father of three, the early days of his career were marked with silent struggles. Speaking to MTV, he remembered the violent cycle of trying to become sober as he pursued his dream of becoming a musician.

“The thing that pulled me back was knowing that I wanted to be a musician, and that if I wanted to do this I had to get sober. So I’d go a month and be sober, make a bunch of music and then fall back off and vanish for a couple months and go back and forth like that. That’s how I made music for the majority of my teen years and twenties,” he said.

At 25 years old, he entered treatment, where he first became involved with the 12-step model and attending meetings. The concept of community has been important for him, and he has been highly involved with programs throughout his continued sobriety.

Macklemore has been an advocate and friend for the recovery community, and has worked hard to clear the judgements and pre-conceived notions of addiction, even taking part in a sit-down talk with former President Barack Obama about the nation’s opioid crisis.

Speaking to radio station KEXP, he explained, “There’s the myth of, ‘addicts are bad people.’ That’s not the case at all. Addicts are some of the most sensitive, loving, caring people that I know, with the biggest hearts that have been to really dark places. They share that they have a struggle that is unique and that once they pick up they can’t stop.”

Even with this setback, Macklemore will continue to be a shining light for those in recovery, as he proves that relapse represents a moment, and that recovery is a journey that is lifelong.

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