You are going to want to hear Macklemore’s new hit song “Kevin” which shares his struggles with drug addiction and prescription drug abuse.
Macklemore’s new song “Kevin” will send chills down your spine with its powerful lyrics addressing prescription drug abuse in America. The song debuted at this year’s American Music Awards in a live performance by Macklemore featuring R&B artist Leon Bridges.
The song’s lyrics put the spotlight on doctors and pharmaceutical companies for their part in causing the current prescription drug abuse and overdose epidemic in America. The song reflects Macklemore’s personal struggle with drug addiction while also openly confronting broader societal issues related to prescription drug abuse.
Macklemore, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, opened up in an interview for mtvU’s “Half of Us” campaign about his battle with prescription drug abuse and addiction. He talks about his early descent into alcohol abuse and how from the first time he drank, he struggled to control his substance use.
His problems with addiction worsened quickly and he began using marijuana and the prescription painkiller Oxycontin, which he describes as one of the “most intense” drugs he’s ever used because of its heroin-like grip. Throughout his teens and early twenties, he says, his desire to be a musician fuelled many short lived attempts at sobriety. He would get sober for a month, create music, and then disappear back into the thralls of addiction.
Like most addicts, he was able to hide his problem at first, until at 25 years old his father suggested drug and alcohol rehab, which he entered. He says drug rehab saved his life. By the age of 30 his first studio album with Ryan Lewis “The Heist” had won a Grammy and gone platinum.
However, with major success also comes pressure, stress, and fame — which can lead to recovery being put on the back burner. This was the case for Macklemore and he recently admitted that he relapsed back to using pills and smoking marijuana after the mega success of his album.
His partner Ryan Lewis says he knew something was up when progress on the duo’s second album had stalled. Yet it took finding out his fiancé was pregnant for Macklemore to again seek and embrace recovery.
In talking about coming back after his relapse he makes a wise distinction between being sober and being in recovery when he says, “And, as it always works, the minute that I start actively seeking recovery — not just sobriety, but recovery — music is there.”
If the song “Kevin” is any indicator, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ highly anticipated album set to be released later this year will again wow audiences. “Kevin” does not disappoint, and is a serious song that highlights a very real problem America is facing.
Prescription Drug Abuse Continues to Haunt America
While mainly about overdose caused by Oxycontin, in the song “Kevin” Macklemore drops the names of many prescription drugs including Adderall, Xanax, and Ambien. These brand name drugs are in fact amongst the most commonly abused prescription drugs.
The three types of prescription drugs most commonly abused in America include prescription opioids, central nervous system depressants, and stimulants.
Prescription opioids are generally prescribed for pain and include drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, methadone, and fentanyl. Although Americans report the same amount of pain symptoms, the number of prescription painkillers prescribed has quadrupled since 1999.
In the hook of the song “Kevin” Leon Bridges sings “put down the pen and look in my eyes/all this is on you we’re overprescribed.”
The fact is, that the number of overdose deaths has risen steadily with increased prescribing. In America, 44 people die each day from a prescription opioid overdose. In 2013 more than 16,000 people died from an overdose and approximately two million more Americans either abused or were dependent on prescription opioids.
Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants.
CNS depressants slow brain activity and are prescribed for anxiety and sleep problems. These drugs include benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax, non-benzodiazepine sleep medications such as Ambien, and less commonly prescribed barbiturates. From 2001-2013 there was a fourfold increase in deaths due to benzodiazepines. The impact of benzodiazepines on the overall picture of prescription drug abuse and overdose in America is second only to opioids.
Prescription stimulants include amphetamines sold under the brand names Adderall and Benzedrine, and methylphenidate (Ritalin). Prescription stimulants are prescribed to treat conditions such as ADHD and narcolepsy.
Stimulants such as Adderall have been increasingly prescribed and with this the nonmedical use of prescription stimulants has also increased. Students are especially susceptible to prescription drug abuse of stimulants due to their ability to increase focus and the false belief that these drugs are safe. However, prescription stimulant abuse can lead to addiction with all the negative mental, physical, and social consequences that come with it. Stimulant abuse can also cause psychosis and cardiovascular problems.
Reversing the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic
Macklemore’s new song offers a sombre and confrontational look into prescription drug abuse and overdose and blames doctors and the billion dollar prescription drug industry for the problem. While the song provides an additional spotlight on the epidemic, the problem is huge and there has already been plenty of talk about what to do about it.
Preventing new cases of addiction and lowering overdose death rates are both parts of the equation. The CDC has targeted overprescribing as part of the problem when it comes to prescription drug abuse. They are working to provide the most up to date guidelines to doctors and consumers about alternative pain management options. Sometimes the prescription becomes the problem and the CDC believes that the way prescription opiates are prescribed needs to change.
Prescription drug monitoring programmes are now in place in many states, and doctors are encouraged to use it before prescribing in order to get a picture of the patient’s prescription drug use, with calls to attention those who may need early intervention.
However, for the millions of people already addicted, the solution is not so straightforward. When Oxycontin changed its formula to make the drug more difficult to abuse, many people switched to heroin as their drug of choice.
This means that prescription drug addiction treatment is at the core of reversing this epidemic and saving lives. Macklemore and many others know that there is hope for recovery — and that prescription drug abuse does not have to be a death sentence.