Macklemore appeared on Dax Shepard’s podcast last April with a secret to share: he relapsed during COVID.
The 38-year-old rapper has long been open about his struggles with prescription painkillers. Many of his songs and music videos pay homage to the difficulties of drug addiction. He’s been vocal about the effects of drug addiction and shared his story as proof that sobriety is possible.
Dax Shepard was candid about his own relapse a few months earlier on the same podcast. Both well-known individuals sharing about their struggles also lessens the shame and guilt many others may feel about their relapses as well.
“It was really painful for myself and for the people who loved me,” Macklemore told PEOPLE magazine during an interview. “I stopped doing the work. When I have to be still and exist in my own head, that’s where my disease lives… [But] I’m like, ‘You know what? I don’t need to pretend like I’m some perfect dude in recovery.’ I am not at all, and there’s no shame.”
Macklemore is far from alone in his struggles. The pandemic challenged millions of people in sobriety. Facing the unknowns, uncertainty, and fear without turning back to substances was a massive challenge for most people. As Dr. Lawrence Weinstein of American Addiction Centers explained, it “produced the perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances that can cause someone to relapse.”
Macklemore’s recovery journey started more than a decade ago in 2008. After years of abusing drugs and alcohol, his father helped him find a treatment facility that likely saved his life. He is more than aware that not going to treatment all those years ago would have kept him from arriving at where he is today.
“Getting that help saved my life,” said Macklemore. “I hope that people will come out of the shadows, that the guilt and the shame of the disease of addiction lessen and we don’t feel like we need to hide anymore.”
He isn’t dedicated only to sharing his story openly and honestly with his fans; Macklemore is determined to be honest with everyone - including his children. He has three kids with his wife Tricia Davis: Sloane, 6, Colette, 3, and Hugo, 6 months. Sloane has known about his struggles at a general level since she was 3 or 4 years old.
“Why would I hide it? It’s who I am,” Macklemore explains. “In terms of Daddy’s sober meetings that he needs to go to, she’s well aware and has been for quite some time.”
Despite the ongoing encouragement his children provide, Macklemore recognizes that they aren’t sufficient enough to keep him sober. They can’t fix him and they can’t keep him away from substances if he doesn’t do the work.
“I remember being like, ‘I don’t ever want my kids to see me loaded.’ There was this relief like, ‘Okay, now I can stay clean for someone else.’ But that’s not how this disease works. My kids can’t keep me clean. I have to do the work.”
Macklemore is once again committed to his sobriety and determined to remain clean for the long run. He understands that addiction, by nature, is a relapsing disease. There is no need for shame or guilt if relapse becomes a part of anyone’s story. The relapse shouldn’t be what’s surprising; sobriety should be.
Part of his commitment to not only his recovery but the recovery of others is his partnership with Yerba Maté. The beverage company offers a line of drinks called CLEAN Cause, an energy drink dedicated to supporting recovery. Yerba Maté donates 50% of the net profits from the drink as funds for sober living scholarships provided to individuals in recovery.
“I would not be where I am without that treatment. And I just so happened to have a dad that could help me pay for a treatment facility,” said Macklemore. “So many people in America cannot afford rehab.”
Macklemore’s partnership with Yerba Maté is only part of the greater whole. He plans to use his own story as inspiration for others struggling in the cycle of addiction. By sharing his experience, he knows that he can provide hope to anyone who finds themselves in a similar position. Sobriety is for everyone willing to do the work it takes to maintain it and Macklemore is living proof.