WASHINGTON, May 14 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama invited Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist Macklemore to the White House to discuss the fight against opioid addiction during the president's weekly address.
The men discussed Macklemore's personal experience with addiction to painkillers and other prescription medication, as well as Obama's proposal for increased funding to fight substance abuse.
"I'm here with President Obama because I take this personally. I abused prescription drugs and battled addiction," said Macklemore, whose real name is Ben Taggerty. "If I hadn't gotten the help I needed when I needed it, I might not be here today. And I want to help others facing the same challenges I did."
Obama used the discussion to renew his call for up to $1.1 billion in funding to combat the abuse of prescription opioids and heroin as congress passed a number of opioid related laws earlier in the week.
"This week, the House passed several bills about opioids – but unless they also make actual investments in more treatment, it won't get Americans the help they need," he said.
Obama also expressed the a need for more accessible treatment for addiction, increased training for first responders dealing with overdoses and increased awareness in doctors who prescribe painkillers.
"On top of funding, doctors also need more training about the power of the pain medication they prescribe, and the risks they carry," he said. "Another way our country can help those suffering in private is to make this conversation public."
Macklemore supported the presidents call for a national conversation regarding substance abuse to encourage victims to seek help.
"When you're going through it, it's hard to imagine there could be anything worse than addiction. But shame and the stigma associated with the disease keeps too many people from seeking the help they need," he said. "Addiction isn't a personal choice or a personal failing. And sometimes it takes more than a strong will to get better – it takes a strong community and accessible resources."
In addition to the weekly address, Macklemore and Obama also discussed addiction as part of an hour-long documentary that will air on MTV in the summer.