Macklemore Returns To Drug Court To Speak At Graduation

By McCarton Ackerman 10/20/14

Sober since 2008, the hip hop artist returned to speak at a graduation ceremony.

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More than 15 years after entering a Seattle drug court for the first time, rapper Macklemore returned to speak at a graduation ceremony.

Macklemore, a.k.a. Ben Haggerty, reappeared to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of King County Drug Court, addressing those in the room by simply saying, “Hi, I’m Ben. And I’m an alcoholic.” An arrest at age 15 initially brought him there and inspired him to get sober. Although he has had admitted to relapses over the years since then, the rapper said he has been sober since August 2008.

“Drug court gives people a way to get sober, to heal,” he said. “I don’t want to just get through the day. I want to live. That is what Drug Court is to me.” Since its inception, the King County Drug Court has graduated over 2,000 participants and saved taxpayers around $95 million.

The rapper, who hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 2012 with “Thrift Shop,” has been open about the difficulties of staying sober while on the road and adjusting to his newfound fame. He tries to go to AA meetings on the road when possible, but said it’s often difficult to get into a routine with meetings. "It's been a struggle the past year," he said in March 2013. "It's very important to go into the rooms of AA, smell the shitty coffee and be reminded that without sobriety, I would have no career."

Macklemore has also spoken about kicking his addictions in some of his songs. The track "Church" contrasts the collectivism of his religious upbringing with the realities he faced growing up, including almost losing his life to drug use.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.