Macklemore Says 'I Was About to Die' Before Sobriety Journey: 'I Wouldn't Be Here' Without Rehab
"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 told Talib Kweli
Macklemore is opening about his battle with addiction and the importance of seeking treatment before it's too late.
During his virtual appearance on People's Party with Talib Kweli, the rap star, 37, revealed that he could have died if his father didn't pay for a 30-day intake program that he feels ultimately saved his life. Macklemore's in-depth conversation comes after the release of his latest freestyle tune, "Trump's Over."
"If it wasn't for my pops having the 10 or 12 racks [thousand] that it was when I first went to treatment [when I was 25] and [his ability] to spend that on me, I'd be f—ing dead," he told the activist host and fellow rapper Kweli, 45. "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."
"I was lucky enough to go to a facility for 30 days," Macklemore detailed. "People don't know that it's okay to go to treatment." The Grammy-winner went on to address the stigma that is often associated with substance abuse. He later spoke of Smokepurpp, another musician who Macklemore said felt unsure about revealing that he had gotten sober because much of his music was centered around drug use.
"I remember hearing a certain rapper, I think it was Smokepurpp, and he was talking about [how] he went to treatment but didn't want to tell anybody," Macklemore recalled. "He was having that internal conversation like, 'What do I do now?' My whole s— is [about] sipping lean and smoking backwoods [cigars]. How do I still remain relevant?"
"It's a mess — but what's more of a mess is dying," Macklemore told Kweli. "I struggled for so long as a youth and didn't know there was a recovery community because by nature we're in a program of being anonymous. Whether you're talking about Alcoholics, Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous — it's an anonymous program," said the star. "Anonymity at the level of press, radio and film — which I'm probably breaking right now — is one of the founding principles [that made me feel unsure]."
RELATED: Macklemore Welcomes Second Child with Wife Tricia Davis
But Macklemore felt relieved when he discovered he was not alone in his battle with substance abuse. "I didn't know there were a bunch of people, thousands in my city that were convening in the basements of churches and random old halls and talking about this disease that I had. I didn't even know it was a disease at the beginning."
"There was a community that was there to support and love me unconditionally that had the same f—ing disease," Macklemore explained. "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."
Speaking on some of his more vulnerable moments along his journey, Macklemore told the host that he understands how some young people may feel firsthand — especially those who aren't fully aware of what they are coping with. "I went for years like, 'Why can I not f—ing stop? Why can I not drink and smoke like my friends? Why [is it that] when I wake up, that's the first thing I'm thinking about and I have to go get and other people can just do it on the weekend or three nights a week?'"
"For a lot of these youth, [I thinking they feel like,] how could you even know?" said the star. "You haven't even been doing drugs long enough to know that you have that allergy that you can't stop. Whether it's lean, Xanax, oxycodone — all of these drugs, if you do them for long enough, you will get addicted. It doesn't matter who you are. That's prescription dope. That is heroin in the form of a pill."
Macklemore then warned those trying to recover of how serious things can get when they deal with the symptoms of physical withdrawals, ranging from sweating "through the sheets" to fighting the urge to relapse.
But there's hope. "You work these 12 steps and you get better," he explained. "You excavate that bulls—. You figure out your character defects. You say you're sorry to some people. You have a spiritual awakening and you go out and you carry that message to someone else."
For Macklemore, paying it forward is the most meaningful step. "That's the most important thing in this world is being of service to other people; getting outside of your f—ing head. That has been my story." But it's also important for those battling substance abuse to know the resources available to them.
"I think having that information [available, and knowing that there] is a community of people with the same disease is very important to [share with] young people," Macklemore said. "That's one of the reasons I wanted to start [The Recovery Show] podcast. Kids don't know [the dangers of substance abuse]. The youth don't know. People don't know." And from Macklemore's experience, some parents also have a hard time learning how to help their children. He told Kweli that he receives messages from some individuals who aren't sure what to do for their loved ones.
Lastly, the rapper paid homage to those who lost their lives to substance abuse. "Mac Miller was a friend of mine," he shared. "You look at what happened to [Lil'] Peep [and] Juice Wrld, these are f—ing tragedies and they're happening. It's not just the famous people. Young people are dying at the highest rate than they ever have and people in general too, it's not even [just] young. This disease does not discriminate."
According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2018 more than 67,000 people lost their lives to drug overdoses in the U.S. alone. The CDC's research also found that more than 46,000 of those drug-related deaths involved opioids — with two out of three fatalities involving synthetic opioids.
Last year, Macklemore revealed that he suffered a drug relapse in 2014 and had previously relapsed in 2011. He said he started taking pills and smoking weed again.
"I was in meetings with management with sunglasses on and rolling around like a 15-year-old trying not to get caught smoking weed in my car," he told Complex in their August/September issue. "Like it was 15 years ago. I felt so dumb."
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.