Macklemore Re-Enacts Opioid Comedown In 'Drug Dealer' Music Video

By McCarton Ackerman 10/31/16

"Four horseman, they won't let me forget, I wanna forge a prescription, 'cause doctor I need some more of it..."

Macklemore Re-Enacts Opioid Comedown In 'Drug Dealer' Music Video
Photo via YouTube

Macklemore gave a chilling visual of his former prescription drug addiction in the music video for his new single “Drug Dealer,” which portrays his experience withdrawing from opioids.

Since its release last week, the music video has racked up over 6.1 million views on YouTube. The rapper, born Ben Haggerty, is shown writhing in bed and soaking through his sheets as he kicks his former drug habit. Singer Ariana Deboo is featured on the track, as she sings, “My drug dealer was a doctor/Had the plug from Big Pharma/He said that he would heal me, but he only gave me problems … I think he trying to kill me/Tried to kill me for a dollar.”

Macklemore raps, "Best friends with the thing that's killing me/Enemies with my best friend, there's no healing me/Refilling these/They say it's death/Institutions and DOC's/So God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change/Courage to change the things I can/And the wisdom to know the difference."

The 33-year-old Washington native is rapping from experience. He used opioids as a young adult before going into rehab at age 25, which he credits with saving his life. But after reaching No. 1 on the Billboard charts with his 2012 single “Thrift Shop,” the pressures of fame led to a relapse in 2014 while recording his follow-up album The Heist.

“I held it together for a while. But, eventually, I stopped going to my 12-Step meetings,” he admitted to Complex magazine in August 2015. "I was burnt out. I was super-stressed. We weren’t sleeping—doing a show every day, zigzagging all over the country… The pressure and the fame—everything. All the clichés, man—like not being able to walk around, having no privacy, and from this TV appearance to this TV appearance, and the criticism, and the lack of connection, and the lack of meetings—all of that put into one pie was just … I just wanted to escape.”

But after discovering that his fiancée, Tricia Davis, was pregnant with their first child, the rapper began attending 12-Step meetings again and has remained sober ever since.

“I’ve been trying to grow up this year,” said Macklemore. “Since I heard that Tricia was pregnant, I was like, I need to grow up right now.” 

Macklemore has continued to remain open about his recovery, even teaming up with President Obama for an MTV documentary which aired this month called Prescription for Change: Ending America’s Opioid Crisis. But as the rapper gears up for another tour in support of his new album, he has admitted that a main challenge for him is to work a program on the road.

"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."

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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.