President Obama talks to Hip Hop Artist about Opioid Addiction in America


By Mary C. Piemonte

U.S. President Barack Obama discussed  the opioid addiction epidemic in America with Grammy Award-winning hip hop artist Macklemore  during his weekly address on May 14, 2016.

Speaking about “his own experience, his life in recovery, and the loss of a friend who overdosed on prescription drugs at a young age,” Macklemore said addiction is like any other disease that doesn’t discriminate based on a person’s ethnicity or the level of their income.

“It doesn’t care what color you are, whether you’re a guy or a girl, rich or poor, whether you live in the inner-city, a suburb, or rural America. This doesn’t just happen to other people’s kids or in some other neighborhood. It can happen to any of us” he added.

President Obama said that drug overdoses now take more lives every year than traffic accidents.

“Deaths from opioid overdoses have tripled since 2000. A lot of the time, they’re from legal drugs prescribed by a doctor. So addiction doesn’t always start in some dark alley – it often starts in a medicine cabinet. In fact, a new study released this month found that 44 percent of Americans know someone who has been addicted to prescription pain killers.”

opioids_chart_1200Click here for the transcript of  President Obama and Macklemore’s  remarks posted on the White House website.

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll

The new study Obama referenced was a “ health tracking poll” conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation that was published in April 2016, which “examines public opinion on the severity of health problems in the U.S. and takes a closer look at attitudes towards current health problems; including access to substance abuse treatment and mental health services.”

The Kaiser report states that “More than one-third of Americans (35 percent) say heroin abuse is an extremely serious problem in the U.S., compared to 28 percent who say the same about abuse of strong prescription painkillers, and less than one in five (19 percent) who say alcohol abuse is an extremely serious problem.”
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The Kaiser report adds that despite the fact that President Obama recently announced $1.1 billion in additional funding along-side an array of new measures to fight the opioid addiction, “a majority of the public says the federal government is not doing enough to combat the recent increase in the number of people who are addicted to prescription painkillers.”

Read more of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s new report on America’s “serious health problems” here.

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