Macklemore's Song "Drug Dealer" Demonstrates His Damaging Ignorance About Drugs and Race

macklemore
Nov 01 2016

Macklemore’s Song “Drug Dealer” Demonstrates His Damaging Ignorance About Drugs and Race

November 1st, 2016

Macklemore’s new song “Drug Dealer” is gaining a lot of media coverage and social media traction for its “powerful” and “emotionally raw and real” message about Big Pharma’s role in the increase of opioid-related deaths in the United States.

The song reiterates two popular, troubling narratives about the so-called opioid epidemic: Big Pharma and crooked doctors get people hooked just to pad their pockets, and heroin has made its way to the white suburbs, eliciting an unprecedented concern for white heroin users who were previously uninterested in the drug.

Macklemore’s credentials, as a white rapper who was formerly addicted to opioids, appear to cement his credibility—at least in the eyes of the media, still swooning over his statesmanship after he teamed up with President Obama to discuss this subject—as an expert on opioids.

The notion that he is any such thing is absurd. It’s like saying that Donald Trump, as a result of the many sexual assault allegations against him, is qualified to provide educational programming for preventing sexual assault. Are you kidding me?

But don’t take our word for it. Just listen to—but don’t purchase—the song “Drug Dealer.” It unequivocally demonstrates Macklemore’s cluelessness on the subject matter. Not only is the song corny in general terms, but it also sounds embarrassingly like a Reagan-era “just say no” PSA.

In it, Macklemore attempts to render drug users as victims without any autonomy, while characterizing the physicians (the “dealers”) as unscrupulous predators:

“My drug dealer is a docta, docta / Had the plug from Big Pharma, Pharma / He said that he would heal me, heal me
….
I think he trying to kill me, kill me / He tried to kill me for a dollar, dollar”

Really, Macklemore? Your physician is trying to kill you? How about you kill the hyperbole?

Setting aside the unlikelihood of this murderous intent to violate the Hippocratic Oath, let’s consider the reality of opioid-related deaths.

While it is possible to die from an overdose of an opioid alone, this is rare. Only about a quarter of the thousands of opioid-related deaths each year occur as a result of a single drug. Combining an opioid with another sedative, such as alcohol or a benzodiazepine, causes many more of these deaths.

So if rappers wish to help people avoid opioid-related deaths, their message should be clear and simple: Don’t combine opioids with other sedatives!

Yes, it’s true that some physicians engage in unethical practices, such as overprescribing opioids and other medications. But to be clear, this group represents a small minority, and medical boards and committees work diligently to weed them out. Further, the majority of people who use opioids chaotically or addictively do not obtain them from their doctor; the largest group obtain them instead from relatives or friends.

The misinformation and exaggerations expressed in Macklemore’s song do not address real concerns. They may, however, have a real-world effect by decreasing the willingness of physicians to prescribe opioid medications, thereby making it more difficult for patients to obtain opioids when medically indicated. The agony of people whose pain is under-medicated is an under-told part of this story.

What’s more, this suffering is not evenly distributed: It has been well documented that physicians are much less likely to prescribe opioids to black people than to whites—one area in which unethical conduct by doctors is widespread.

Suffering and inequality will certainly be exacerbated if otherwise-reasonable people start taking seriously the myths peddled by Macklemore’s song.

But what’s even worse is that Macklemore attempts to express concerns about the plight of sisters and brothers (plus a couple of honorary members in Amy Winehouse and Heath Ledger) as it relates to the dangers of drugs. At the same time, he lectures America for only being concerned when drug problems reach the white ‘burbs:

That’s Prince, Michael and Whitney / That’s Amy, Ledger and Pimp C / That’s Yams, that’s DJ A.M / God damn they’re making a killing /

Now it’s getting attention cause Sara, Katey and Billy / But this shit’s been going one from Seattle out to South Philly / It just moved out about the city / And spread out to the ‘burbs Now it’s everybody’s problem, got a nation on the verge /

Take Activis off the market / Jack the price up on the syrup / But Purdue Pharma’s ’bout to move that work.

The vast majority of the people named in the song died from drug combinations. In other words, they died from ignorance.

Macklemore’s over-simplistic and inaccurate characterization of the opioid situation reinforces the misguided victim-predator rhetoric of the War on Drugs era. Over the past three decades, this rhetoric has functioned to further subjugate the very people he claims to want to liberate: black people and his black friends.

“Drug Dealer” does not remotely approach the real conversation about race and drugs that the US so badly needs. But it does provide a blueprint for racists to show their support for punitive drug policies, policies that disproportionately lock up black and brown bodies, without appearing to be explicitly racist.

Sure, no one will shed a tear when Big Pharma and those rich doctors are painted as the villains. But if you encourage the scapegoating of one “dealer,” it follows that it’s ok to scapegoat another—and that’s a toxic message in a country that needs little encouragement to do so in the most vicious ways.

You can see this happening, for example, in Maine, where Governor Paul LePage said of dealers:

“The traffickers, this aren’t people who take drugs, these are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty. These type of guys that come from Connecticut and New York. They sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave.”

LePage later said:

“[I] made that comment that black people are trafficking in our state. Now ever since I said that comment, I’ve been collecting every single drug dealer who has been arrested in our state. I don’t ask them to come to Maine and sell their poison, but they come, and I will tell you that 90-plus percent of those pictures in my book—and it’s a three-ringed binder—are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Connecticut, the Bronx and Brooklyn.”

With friends like Macklemore and Governor LePage, black people don’t need enemies.

Macklemore’s ignorance is further highlighted by the fact that he perpetuates the debunked “gateway theory” of drug use and lambasts one of the few effective addiction treatments:

They said it wasn’t a gateway drug / My homie was takin’ subs and he ain’t wake up

The gateway theory, in essence, states that drug use progresses from “softer” to “harder” drugs in an orderly fashion. For example, marijuana use will eventually lead to heroin use. The problem is that the overwhelming majority of users of marijuana never progress to heroin use—or any other illicit drug use.

And Suboxone (“subs”) is arguably the most effective treatment for opioid addiction—more effective at reducing mortality than other treatments. Would Macklemore have the thousands of people being treated with Suboxone discontinue their medication?

If Macklemore really cared about his fans, people with addiction issues or his black friends, he’d accept that drug use is a reality and try educating himself before he wrote an unsolicited anthem for drug users.

Macklemore, who after all, is ignorant rather than malicious, has a history of using music (or trying to) for the greater good. It’s time he put in a bit more effort.

 


Carl L. Hart is a columnist for The Influence. He is a professor (in psychiatry) at Columbia University. He is also the author of the book High Price: A neuroscientist’s journey of self-discovery that challenges everything you know about drugs and society. His previous pieces for The Influence have included “High on Irrationality: At the UN Drugs Summit, It’s Time to Climb Down” and “Meth Is Virtually Identical to Adderall—This Is How I Found Out.” You can follow him on Twitter: @drcarlhart.

Kristen Gwynne is a reporter with a focus on criminal justice and drug policy. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone,Vice and the Guardian, among other publications. She is a former drugs editor at Alternet and a former associate editor of The Influence. Her last piece for The Influence was “The Naked Self-Interest of Insys, the Pharma Company Funding Opposition to Weed Legalization in Arizona.” You can follow her on Twitter: @KristenGwynne.

 

  • The danger isn’t docs pushing drugs, it’s people like Macklemore pushing the PROP narrative. It’s Soviet style agitprop. Even John Oliver fell for it. Your point about how these people started bears repeating – they ‘borrowed’ them from people with legit prescriptions. In other words, they stole the drugs and then after doing this repeatedly, it created a ‘learning disorder’ in which they thought it was ok to steal drugs. Do you get it now? No? Well then, you might have a learning disorder. That’s ok – we have very effective treatments these days.

  • Caitlin Hynes

    I am not positive, but I think the person this article about is a performer trying to make money by selling his music. Any thinking person would not waste even two seconds on figuring out his “message”

    • Olmy Olm

      Unfortunately, people who take his “message” seriously outnumber thinking people by a ratio of a gazillion to one. 🙁

      • jt04

        It is the “thinking people” that understand the consequences of propaganda and lies.

        Look if he wasn’t on some pedestal saying he was trying to help people with his “message” then I don’t think there would be this upset about it. It is he who is saying “listen to me for I am a force for good”.

        He has even met with the president on these issues. So yes people are taking him seriously. This is why he has opened himself up to critique from those that have studied these issues for many years. If he wants to truly be of help and not hurt those with addictions the message should be one of Truth.

        Say you had a daughter or son that has an issue with depression and he was young. Then a musical artist that He or she adores claims to be a force for good regarding depression but in his or her music it is filled with misinformation and lies regarding it. Wouldn’t that bother you? Young people especially are impressionable. Even adults can be when they are struggling with something.

        When people relate on an issue with someone they listen. Plain and simple. Those ideas have consequences.

        Now if these just want to be artists and sing about depression but aren’t claiming to try to teach or educate about it fine do what you do but the second you say “I’m a force for good in this” you should take what you are saying/singing more seriously.

        • Georgia Sanchez

          Jt04;
          Spot on!
          (You DO know that your ‘Teacher’ creds are showing, right?)

    • jt04

      What he is saying influences and impacts the minds of many many people this has consequences. The point the author is trying to make here is that Macklemore claims that he wants to be a force for good but the message within his music is doing the opposite of that by perpetuating things that aren’t true.

    • Andrew_C_Bairnsfather

      Dr. Hart is a whistleblower in this regard. I listened to a presentation he gave where he described being invited to the White House to provide input to TV show writers in order to supposedly help them integrate real world drug use information into their shows; but instead it was a roundtable to brainstorm the continued injection prohibitionist propaganda into TVdom. Or is that spelled TVdumb? 😉

    • Andrew_C_Bairnsfather

      As a music lover (Go Sly Stone!) I agree the exact meaning of lyrics to me are often secondary to great music. A lot of songs don’t have fully intelligible lyrics, which leads to fun interpretations and late night skits. But I agree with Carl that some lyrics are so horrible they should be changed. Thus the need to scat or invent new lyrics on top of them.

    • Georgia Sanchez

      Caitlin Hynes;
      Yeah, your right!
      But, there are not many (if any) thinking persons involved in mass media nowadays. And, apparently, The President has relinquished his thinking cap as well. Barring those two facts, I do not believe there would’ve be a need to address this song.

  • Tom

    Obama should be able to recognize that he’s being used to promote the 12-step $35 billion racket. I got a letter from ‘him’ http://notpowerless.com/letter-from-obama/ after sending this summary of the intellectual history of 12-step ‘alternatives’ to the White House http://notpowerless.com/alternatives-to-aa/

    • Georgia Sanchez

      Tom,
      The12 Steps are free. The books and other materials, are free. They are entirely self-supporting and do NOT except outside donations.
      Now, if you’ve gone to some swanky detox facility, and while there, they used The Twelve Steps as a means to help you manage sobriety, do not get it twisted!
      The Twelve Steps have been co-opted by everyone from overeaters to sex addicts.
      But, The Twelve Steps are FREE. And, if one is to judge by your profile pic, you darn well already know it.
      So, what’s your angle?

      • Tom

        My angle?

  • Olmy Olm

    More or less agree with everything. But I do have a question about the part where you say that some doctors ‘overprescribe’ opioids. I have read on your website that you support legalizing all drugs, so I am interested in how these two stances can be held at the same time?

    • jt04

      There are cases that exist in which a doctor will prescribe a powerful opiate and a lot of it for pain that may not warrant it AND in some cases prescribe an opiate for to long. This can leave the patient more dependent than they would otherwise need to be.

      When people talk of legalizing drugs they don’t mean you can just go into a store and buy it like with alcohol or marijuana. The thing is as with alcohol it would be regulated and the population would be educated on the consequences of using to much. So as in the case with alcohol, if you choose to go to the store and purchase 5 bottles of booze and drink it all at once I think you know what the consequence will be. If drugs were legal people would also be aware of the consequence of “x” mg or “x” amount of pills etc. It will be up to the individual to follow the precautions necessary for the substance…. as with any other legal substance on the market today.

      By ending prohibition/the drug war all the money can be used to fund evidence based treatments and education.

      https://youtu.be/W8yYJ_oV6xk

      • Olmy Olm

        Interesting stuff. What kind of model would you use for these legalized drugs? Where would they be sold?

        • jt04

          Model? This is not something that I had considered. What should be extremely important with harder drugs is knowing how to use them safely and they all can be used safely. Even Heroin and Cocaine. So somehow implementing education prior to dispensing these kinds of substances would seem like a good idea. Like for example to have a concealed weapon you have to take a course. I think you do anyway. 😉 An example would be most opiates don’t kill on there own. Most people mix substances that should not be mixed with them which is what causes people to OD. Or they end up getting more than they bargained for in there bag of heroin. It could be laced with fentanyl which is MUCH stronger thereby leading to OD. A regulated heroin wouldn’t have this risk.

          Where? I think it should be dispensed similarly to how prescription drugs are dispensed and in a similar fashion. You get paperwork from a doctor requesting the substance, proof you took harm reduction course, and then you can get the substance. Oh and 21 and over seems smart too.

          There are cons with the legalization of drugs but prohibition has gotten us nowhere. Drugs are cheaper and easier to get then when the drug war began.

          By the way the model I stated above is something I thought of on the fly. There are much more intelligent men then I that could probably think of a better way of doing it.

          There def. needs to be an emphasis on education. The lack of this is why there are so many over dose deaths now.

          • Georgia Sanchez

            Jt04; DUDE?!! SERIOUSLY?!!!
            Heroin CANNOT be used safely. Ever.
            Once met a woman who said had used it for more than 20 years. She said that she works everyday and has an otherwise normal life. She said that she no longer gets high – she just gets normal.
            Odd thing though, I was interviewing her at jail. (Yup, drug & child-neglect charges.) And that too, was part of her idea of normal.
            If you understood how addiction happens physiologically, you could not make such a claim.

          • jt04

            Listen I’m not saying that there aren’t cons to the use of drugs and I’m also not saying that there aren’t people that won’t suffer from addictions. It’s just the more you dig into this topic the more you begin to realize that the problems don’t actually stem from the drug itself but other issues. Hell, in some cases a person should stop using. Great. They should stop. This should be up to the person as with alcohol and other drugs. If we were investing in evidence based treatments rather than a drug war this would be much easier to accomplish. Heroin CAN be used safely and I don’t see how your argument provides legitamate evidence that it doesn’t. I hope we are having a respectful discussion here. I guess my main argument for the end of prohibition is I accept that there will be cons to it but I know they will be FAR less the. What we have with the drug war.

            If you get a chance Google heroin assisted treatment. This is used in other countries when methadone assisted treatment either doesn’t show good results or the patient would rather try it. The results are in with this and have been in, it helps people. When they no longer have to chase, when they can afford it and when what they are getting is the proper dosage and they are educated it can be beneficial to people. They so most people stop Heroin Assisted Treatment because they end up actually treating what drove there addictions in the first place, get jobs and move on with there lives. They actually have time to focus on those things rather than working to get a fix all day.

            The day we accept drugs aren’t going away and start making accommodations to our society based on that fact is the day we start making some real progress. If we can’t keep it out of prisons what makes us think we can keep it out of the country??

            If you get a chance look up “Chasing the Scream”. It’s a great book. Also look up a program called “Leap”. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. These men and women watched everyday then consequences of the drug war. We should listen to them. I saw them too but I lived it.

          • Olmy Olm

            You cannot be serious. Heroin cannot be used in a risky manner, like ever!

            You see, I know 3 people who experimented with heroin for a while and then shortly quit without any problem. Therefore, everyone who uses heroin has no problems with it. If you understood the physiology, you wouldn’t make such a claim.

            See, I can play this game too.

          • James DuMouchel

            The only problem I have with your proposal is that a prescription be required. So few MD’s will issue them, that a giant Black Market will still be required to serve those unable to procure a script. Then there will be gang fights over turf, just like there are now.

          • jt04

            Yes. You have a good point. The only reason I wanted to implement the prescription was so that the person would have yet another opportunity to speak to a knowledgeable person regarding safely using the substance. All drugs can be used safely as long as you understand dosage, what can and can’t be mixed and are actually getting what you think you are. Oh and if you follow directions and have some common sense.

        • Andrew_C_Bairnsfather

          In case you are interested in more than jt04’s thoughts, have you read TDPF’s book yet?
          http://www.tdpf.org.uk/resources/publications/after-war-drugs-blueprint-regulation

    • Will Belhomme

      I don’t understand how the two contradict

      • Olmy Olm

        The issue that I am thinking of is that legalizing all drugs the way some people envision it would pretty much lead to a reconsideration of the very foundations of the prescription system. I mean, are we going to go back to 19th century style model where the prescription system didn’t even exist and everyone could get everything they wanted on the free market? I suppose that’s one solution. In fact, it worked very well in the UK (read Opium and the People by Virginia Berridge). And there are now some libertarian-minded intellectuals who support that as well, noting that the prescription system is paternalistic and ineffective (e.g. Jessica Flanagan).

        Will people even see a doctor to get their opioids?

  • Steppers are quick to diagnose the newcomer: “You’re angry and bitter and blame the world for your problems.” Yet, that is exactly what Macklemore is doing in this song. He sounds resentful and paranoid and blames everyone for the suicide epidemic except for the people who opened every bottle of pills and booze in the house.

    • Georgia Sanchez

      You need a new ‘group’. When folk start handing out diagnoses, you know the Schisms have taken over!
      Seriously.

  • Thomas Bannard

    Dr. Hart,
    While I respect you tremendously and agree with you on many points, I think in some ways you have responded to this oversimplification with an oversimplification. Your point about scapegoating is very true, and to assume bad intentions from Drs. and even Big Pharmacy companies is ineffective and pointless. Shifting the blame on this narrative is not a solution. That said, the rise in opioid related deaths has directly paralleled the rise in prescribing rates and ignoring physicians and drug company’s roles in those occurrences, is equally ineffective. While you say most users get their drugs from friends or families, these people have the drugs in the first place because of overprescribing by Drs. There are widespread failures in our ability to educate Drs around substance use. If we did better education in this area perhaps Drs. would be leading the charge in terms of harm reduction, effective evidence based treatment, and eliminating punitive policies. For example, why aren’t Drs. giving out Naloxone with every prescription or having explicit conversations with their patients about mixing medications. Why should we place the responsibility on a pop singer in recovery versus someone who went to school for 20 years? While your point about LePage demonstrates the not-so subtle racism that has driven the drug war, it is not exactly fair to put that side by side with Macklemore. The point that I believe he is trying to make is that people are finally starting to think about drug use, treatment, and criminalization differently because opioids are impacted whites at nearly double the rate. This is a terrible reflection on our society, but is also an opportunity for educated activists to call out the systemic racism in our society, and maybe an opportunity for progress. The linkage between white suburban people’s inability to get their loved one into treatment or connect to appropriate harm reduction and the fact that we incarcerate people especially black, brown, and poor people at a rate unprecedented in human history must be made explicit and clear to huge numbers of people in order to make progress. The thing about Suboxone doesn’t make any sense, I’m with you on that one. Overall, I think it would be more helpful for academics to work together to better leverage people, who have both lived experience and substantial public exposure (of which Macklemore has both) than to oversimplify and criticize every piece of it. I think you might find you might agree with him on a lot of points, and our societal dialogue might improve.

    • Olmy Olm

      If we compare the US and the UK: In the UK where in the same period, opioid prescriptions have risen about the same as in the US, but unlike in the US, mortality and addiction rates have stayed about the same.

    • painkills2

      “There are widespread failures in our ability to educate Drs around substance abuse.”

      Oh, please. Doctors aren’t stupid. Addiction is not some new medical condition — it’s been around since human beings have existed. Doctors know that opioids can be addictive in a small percentage of patients. Considering the high rate of drug abuse in the medical community, they should know. And if they don’t, it’s not too hard to become further educated — it’s called reading.

      It’s funny how people can blame doctors who over-prescribe, and yet throughout the whole world, there is an epidemic of untreated chronic pain. Which is true? Is the medical community over-treating pain or under-treating it? Perhaps you should ask the chronic pain patient community, many of whom are being abandoned by their doctors and forced into tortuous withdrawal, then left without any way to their treat constant pain.

      • Georgia Sanchez

        Painkills2;
        I ALMOST hate to admitt it, but you make a RESOUNDING point here!
        ( other things have come clear as well)
        Sorry for being such a hardcase but I have an issue with those folk who ignore kids in their rush to acknowledge the struggles of addiction. I was really on a Serious Rant.
        Ironic, that I am currently on a campaign in my work to get my colleagues to acknowledge, in a meaningful way, that Pain, when untreated and undertreated, Kills.

        • painkills2

          Georgia, when people take opioids for physical pain, they rarely get addicted. Dependent and addicted are two different things. When people self-medicate their mental pain (as many kids and teenagers tend to do) with certain drugs, addiction can follow.

          I happen to think there’s not a big difference in how the brain interprets pain signals, whether it’s mental or physical pain. I’ve seen someone suffering from Major Depressive Disorder who was in more pain than someone with a gunshot wound. This woman was in so much pain that she could barely speak. It was heart-breaking to witness. I’ve also seen someone suffering from addiction and drug withdrawal who could not form words. His pain was also heart-breaking to witness.

          But the biggest problem with addiction is the drug war. It makes a medical condition into a crime.

    • Andrew_C_Bairnsfather

      “While you say most users get their drugs from friends or families, these people have the drugs in the first place because of overprescribing by Drs.”

      I have to greatly disagree with your flow of logic here. And you sure don’t sound like someone who has been in agonizing physical pain.

      • Pepper Culpepper

        I didn’t know you could measure someone’s pain or lack thereof based on words typed on the internet. Do I sound like I’m in pain? If not, how can you tell?

        • Andrew_C_Bairnsfather

          You are clearly in some mental pain or you would not have written that.

          I made no claims to to be able to measure TB’s pain. But I will gladly help you understand; I’ll keep it simple.

          Given the current stigma-based nomenclature used we have 3 possibilities: under-prescribing, perfect-prescribing, and over-prescribing.

          Now to shed a little light, there are two key variables involved: # of ‘pills’ (doses) in the prescription and kind of pain relief drug. Based on my personal anecdotal survey of people’s use of the word “overprescribing” they usually DO NOT mean the kind of pain relief drug, but instead are referring to the number of doses in the prescription.

          Which would you rather have? Running out of pain medicine before your pain stops? Or enough doses to outlast your pain?

        • painkills2

          I don’t know why your response to my comment was censored, but I just wanted to let you know that I’m on your side regarding kratom. I’ve suggested it to pain patients I meet in the comment sections, but since I haven’t tried it myself, I can’t recommend it. Good luck on your book. 🙂

  • painkills2

    While you analyze the impact of a white rapper advocating on the side of ignorance about opioids and addiction, as a 30-year intractable pain patient, I’m more concerned about how his message will impact the chronic pain patient community. Doctors will use Macklemore and Obama’s advocacy work to deny pain patients the medications that allow them to function every single day.

    In fact, many in the opioid war blame pain patients for the rise in overdoses, creating widespread stigma and denial of treatment. Now, pain patients are learning what it feels like to be labeled a drug addict, and many are blaming those who suffer from addiction for the opioid war.

    Dr. Hart, I would really like to see you address this issue. Try to explain to pain patients that those who suffer from addiction are not to blame. That they are suffering as much as we are. Because I’ve been unable to do so.

    • Georgia Sanchez

      BEST. COMMENT. EVER. ON. THIS. TOPIC.
      You have spoken for millions.
      KUDOS.

    • Aly Bot
    • Pepper Culpepper

      I have one word for you. Kratom. Research it at http://www.kratomliteracyproject.com or check out the American Kratom Association. Learn about it. Because it’s going to be nearly impossible to get a prescription filled in 2017.

      • painkills2

        I would think that every pain patient is aware of kratom. Unfortunately, just like with cannabis, kratom will not help everyone.

        • Pepper Culpepper

          that’s very true, but so many aren’t even aware that it’s an option they can try.

          • painkills2

            Kratom advocates are pretty vocal and they get around. Thanks for passing on the information. 🙂

          • Pepper Culpepper

            I am a kratom advocate and work closely with the AKA. I run the Kratom Literacy Project and am currently writing a book about the opioid epidemic and the DEA’s attempt to ban kratom. So, yes, while there are many advocates. I talk to dozens of women every day who live with some form of chronic pain or another and have no clue what it is. There is still much work to be done. You’d be surprised how many pain patients don’t realize that there are herbal remedies around due to the way modern medicine looks down upon it as “woo” or “quack medicine.” It is anything but. There are just some things science cannot measure and one of them is depression and another is pain. That’s why they have the smiley face pain scale. Science is, and always will be limited to what it can measure because we are always developing new technology. I hope one day there is a way to show that whole plant herbal medicine is superior to synthetic pharmaceuticals. Humans coevolved with plants, not synthetic pills.

  • Victoria Zeisberg

    As a NYer living in TN I had no idea how bad opiod abuse was until living here where they had to expand the neonatal unit to accommodate all the drug addicted babies. I constantly see people with chronic pain struggle to get the care they need because there are so many people abusing their medication and as a result everyone else suffers. If you think doctors don’t get kickbacks you’re mistaken. Just look at the increasing numbers. “not long after OxyContin’s launch in 1995, primary-care doctors were prescribing it for an array of painful symptoms. Sales hit $1.5 billion by 2002.” Sales now are at about $3 BILLION A YEAR.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexmorrell/2015/07/01/the-oxycontin-clan-the-14-billion-newcomer-to-forbes-2015-list-of-richest-u-s-families/#1b61c350c0e2

    • Olmy Olm

      Babies can’t be born “drug addicted”. What you’re referring to is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS): ‘Physicians in this field stress the importance of careful language to
      encourage women to feel comfortable and beneficial to their babies,
      rather than as if they are threats. A baby cannot be born “addicted,”
      they say, despite headlines declaring as much.’

      http://theinfluence.org/how-the-myth-of-the-addicted-baby-hurts-newborns-and-moms/

  • Andrew_C_Bairnsfather

    Macklemore sounds like Milli Vanilli and Vanilla Ice combined.

    • Georgia Sanchez

      TRUTH!

  • Matty Bennett

    This article is garbage. First of all I thought Macklemore’s song was an eye opening, accurate and inspirational message of what struggling with addiction is like; far from the “corny” description given in this article. The fact is that almost no one in our mainstream music scene is talking about this issue AT ALL…it’s absolutely absurd to criticize Macklemore for not finding a way to tie in the fact that most over-doses are related to opioids in combination with other substances not just the painkillers themselves and discrediting the entire song because of that. Did Big Pharma give you guys this article to post? because it honestly seems like it. “The number of prescriptions for opioids (like hydrocodone and oxycodone products) have escalated from around 76 million in 1991 to nearly 207 million in 2013, with the United States their biggest consumer globally” but I’m sure that’s because people are in so much more pain these days, not criminal negligence on behalf of doctors and the drug companies pushing them to prescribe these drugs at an ever-increasing rate, while simultaneously raking in billions. Get real.

    • Will Belhomme

      You are missing the point. If macklemore wanted to educate and really talk about the problem his information would be accurate. The science is there to back it up but I’m sure you won’t look. Matty Bennett vs science. Good luck

    • jt04

      Are you serious right now? Do you know who Dr. Carl Hart is? Before you make assumptions you may want to look into it. He is one of the biggest advocates for drug policy change in this country. He is a force for good. I have had the pleasure of speaking to him on Facebook. His upset is that Macklemore wants to be of help but doesn’t realize the consequence of perpetuating lies regarding on of the useful treatments for opiod use in the country. Suboxone.

      The issue lies in the abstinence only model which is perpetuated as the only way to get sober. If you aren’t clean then you are missing the mark. Well many hundreds of thousands of people have been helped by bupenorphine.

      The statements he made within this article on just on the fly opinions. He is a scientist and professor that works for Columbia University and has studied these topics.

      http://drcarlhart.com

      • Matty Bennett

        Did I raise any issue with Dr. Carl Hart? No. My issue and comment were only in regard to what was stated in this article. He’s a scientist and a professor? Man, everything he says much be completely 100% true and indisputable…Give me a break. Macklemore wrote a song; not an infomercial.

        He put the reference to Buprenorphine in the song because there’s a widely accepted misconception that it’s harmless; not because he was trying to push an abstinence only agenda.

        • jt04

          THAT is what he was responding about. This is what I don’t get. Who do you think is going to know more about the apparent harms of a drug….. a person with a doctorate in neuroscience or you? Get off your high horse man. Do you argue with your doctor when he tells you what drugs to take?

          I think you are mistaking what he said anyway. He never said these drugs were harmless. He just said the way he was coming across about it was a “false narrative”. Suboxone can be used safely if used properly just like anything else. To put out there to people that this drug is somehow more inherently harmful than any other drug you can ultimately limit the amount of people that could be helped by it. I know Many people that got off opioids using Bupepunorphine.

          Dr. Hart does NOT want propaganda (which are things said not based on the evidence) to hurt anyone. Maybe you should read the article again or better yet do some research into the apparent harms of Bupe. I’m willing to concede all I’ve said if you can provide legitimate proof that it’s dangerous if used properly.

      • Pepper Culpepper

        Suboxone is garbage. Kratom is better than Subs in every way.

    • Olmy Olm

      Eye opening? Inspirational? Accurate?

      I have read extensively about addiction over the years and Macklemore makes me want to throw up.

    • Georgia Sanchez

      Matty Bennet;
      Well, I’ll take the word of Professor Dr. Hart, over Mack-whatever any day, if it’s all the same to you.
      That’s kind of a No-Brainer, dear.

      • Matty Bennett

        Did I raise any issue with Dr. Carl Hart? No. My issue and comment were only in regard to what was stated in this article. He’s a scientist and a professor? Man, everything he says must be completely 100% true and indisputable…Give me a break. Macklemore wrote a song; not an infomercial.

        You know what comes with being a doctor, professor, a scientist and being able to post articles on theinfluence.org? Corporate sponsors. Judging from the other comments on this article I’d say I’m not alone in disliking it.

      • Pepper Culpepper

        So all doctors are infallible?

      • Pepper Culpepper

        Well, the fact is that Dr. Hart is still human and therefore subject to error. Let’s not go glorifying scientists like they are incapable of making a mistake.

        Remember Ancel Keys? He was a doctor too. And we all know what happened to the long held belief that dietary fat makes people fat and caused heart disease.

        Or what about when “they” all said “eggs are bad because of the dietary cholesterol” and now it’s, “oh, wait, eggs are good if they come from chickens raised on pasture.”

        Be careful of the idea that because someone has a fancy degree that they are always right.

        Hart makes some good points, but he isn’t infallible.

  • Olmy Olm

    I just listened to the song. Big mistake. Threw up in my mouth a bit.

  • aidan gilmore

    harsh

  • Abby

    Why does he have to bring race into it. No were in the song did macklemore say anything about white or blacks or anything of race. This song is about the struggles of drug addiction. It’s just his view and own struggles with it. Is it not ok for people to sing about there struggles without someone getting butt hurt saying they don’t have the “credentials” like anyone can be a addict what kind of “credentials” does someone need to be a “true addict” or to talk about there struggles. Also drug use was not really a thing going on in the suburbs it just wasn’t common. Unfortunately drug use is not common from people who come from money or a “good family” but I don’t know so who am to say that but that is just what I noticed. Sadly drug use is common in people who have a family history of use or if they come from a bad home or go through things. In my opinion in a way drugs become addictive when you use them to fill the voids in your heart. Everyone wants to be happy and feel ok so therfore drugs are one of those things that do that. Also what I do not understand why is this guy bashing macklemore for saying his ” they said it wasn’t a gateway drug my homie was takin subs and he ain’t are up. First of if someone is taking this medication to help ease the withdrawals and cravings of whatever drug they were previously addicted to then it cannot be a gateway drug because they were already addicted to a substance hence why they are taking a medication to help treat their addiction. Therefore the subs are not the Gateway. Gateway drugs I believe is only a theory because a certain substance does not make you go to another substance to get relief. It’s who you are as a person and your mindset that makes you want to feel higher or better. From my experience when people do drugs it’s too essentially make them happy or numb to escape reality. So it’s you as an individual that influences makes you decide you want to try a different drug that is possibly more dangerous because you want a better High. Again a drug itself there’s not make you or cause you to try something else. Also why does he bring up the fact that doctors are less likely to prescribe opiates to black people than white people again what does race have to do with any of this song it’s about this rappers personal struggle and experience with opiate drug use. In addition why is the person who wrote this article minimizing opiate drug use and death. Just because it’s not a high percentage of people who die from overdose of opiates does not mean it’s not an epidemic. It’s still very real and still happening therefore it’s a problem that should be addressed. And also yes people mix opiates with alcohol and those as a mixture are deadly but it did not take away from the fact opiate overdose is still a thing. Just because a low percentage die or become addicted to opiates did not minimize that Addiction in any way shape or form. It’s still a problem it’s still addiction and it’s still struggle people go through in face therefore why would anyone minimize it. Anything can become an addiction from food to working out to sex and of course drugs. And also when macklemore talks about the doctors being there dealers I don’t think he means that they are the reason for their addiction I think he literally just means they are the source of the substance. Anyone could become addicted to opiates especially if you have a addictive personality but that doesn’t necessarily mean personally your doctors are trying to give you an addiction they’re not trying to kill you you as an individual are the reason for your addiction. The doctor’s or whoever you get you substance from are truly just hypothetically the dealers they personally or maybe they are I don’t know but they’re not trying to put You In Harm’s Way. I personally love this song because it really portrays the struggles people go through with opiate addiction or even any addiction. It talks about the withdrawal and a pain psychologically and physically and it talks about the demons screaming at you to just go ahead and give in to their addiction because it will silence the “demons”/ thoughts.

    Sorry this was all over the place. I have trouble with putting my thoughts into any kind of sequence. This is just my view of the song

    • Georgia Sanchez

      Abby, Dear;
      This ‘singer’ had an audience with the POTUS regarding this issue – as an expert on the topic, no less. Does that not scare the very Shite of you?!
      I agree that people should be able to sing what they want to sing; express what they want to express, but when folk start looking to them as though they are an authority, and quote them in the media (giving them futher credence) we should ALL have a problem with THAT.

      • Abby

        I understand what you are saying. That is a very scary thing when someone has “power” like that. But also in his song he wasn’t telling people to go and do drugs or promoting drug use in any way therefore people should not take it as he has some kind of say in rather a person decides to do opiates or not. And he went to the POTUS because he was trying to make a positive difference. I mean it’s not just him that get a chance to speak to the president, other people and artists have or have had that opportunity so anyone could be of authority to “influence” other people.

    • Miss Visionary

      Abby, you said:
      “..Drug use was not really a thing going on in the suburbs it just wasn’t common. Unfortunately drug use is not common from people who come from money or a “good family” but I don’t know so who am to say that but that is just what I noticed.”

      I’m sorry Miss Abby, but it’s apparent you haven’t noticed much. However, I appreciate you stating that you “don’t know”. I say that very kindly 😊
      Drug use by folks in the suburbs, those that come from money &/or a good family… has been a problem longer than most realize & far longer than the majority wants to admit.

      If the public was aware of how many professionals (ER Nurses, MD’s & hospital staff, CEO’s, Pharmacist’s, Lawyers, Police, Officials, etc) were addicted to substances they were obtaining legally or illegally stigma would hardly be an issue. I am still waiting for this day.. but it’s coming- just watch.

      Granted, I only know this information due to being in long term recovery myself, but I was aware beforehand. I am an educated white girl from the suburbs, raised by a very good family with excellent morals. I was able to hide my $300/day heroin habit from my family for years. Honestly.. I hid ALL of my addiction for a total of 15 years and I started at a very young age. No, my folks were not blind, I was just clever enough to do so. Imagine if I had spent 4-8 years away at college.

      It’s just something to think about.

      Disclaimer: This comment does NOT mean that I agree with Mackelmore’s song “Drug Dealer”

  • Lisa Karels

    This article is garbage. Do your research. Our area of the nation is one of the worst when it comes to opiate abuse. When I was a kid and I had injuries or surgery my doctor either gave me 800 ml ibuprofen or nothing at all and now they prescribe pain killers like it’s candy! You see this “funny” trend in wisdom teeth videos of teens post surgery on their way home saying or doing funny stuff when they are high??? It’s unnecessary. My friend’s father got hooked after a work injury and the doctor had to figure out how to continue his prescription long after he needed it. The prescription companies have sales reps too you know. Just like with over prescribed ADD/ADHD drugs in the 80’s and 90’s….. The frontal lobe of the brain isn’t done developing in kids and MAYBE this makes the extra susceptible to abuse of the opiates.

    http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-oxycontin-everett/

    https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2016/americas-addiction-to-opioids-heroin-prescription-drug-abuse

    • painkills2

      Do you think there exists another reality besides your own? Do you understand that if acute pain is under-treated, it can become chronic pain? Do you understand that this is about the treatment of pain, not the treatment of addiction? Do you understand that hundreds of millions of people have taken painkillers for dental work or surgery and yet never have a problem with addiction? Why do you want other people to suffer because about 10% of the population might have a problem with addiction? Do you think it’s time to close all of the casinos and lotteries? How about every store that sells alcohol and cigarettes?

  • Aly Bot

    This article is so lame. I couldn’t even read the entire article it was so petty. It seemed to me to be written by people who just don’t like the guy. Bitchin that his lyrics lack all the facts… He’s an entertainer and as it is this song seemed to resonate with millions of people. I don’t recall himself claiming to be an expert on the subject, but a victim to his own emotion and feelings. Let the guy express himself without you tryna bring him down, just appreciate song for what it is, don’t tear it apart.

    • Abby

      Exactly!

    • 3PacBieber

      Are you suggesting an informed individual shouldn’t correct someone with a large following?

      • Aly Bot

        Well no disrespect but I think my comment was quite clear, take it however you’d like.

        • 3PacBieber

          I edited my comment and would appreciate it if you reread it.

          > take it however you’d like

          I would rather not as that would be misinterpreting your position/intent, and I don’t understand the source of that statement either. Whilst I may be mistaken, it comes off as unnecessarily confrontational; my intentions weren’t to bash you because of disagreement.

      • Pepper Culpepper

        meh

  • Cory El

    everyone always wants someone else to blame for their bad choices

    • painkills2

      If you really understood addiction, you would understand that it’s rarely a choice. You might choose to drink a beer, but you don’t choose to become an alcoholic. Choosing to be a drug addict would be like choosing to have brain cancer. Choosing to be a drug addict would be like choosing to suffer — and that goes against human nature. This is called logic.

      • Cory El

        unfortunately peoples selfish nature over powers their logic. there too busy worrying about their fix to even think about next month, next year, or in ten years. it takes a lot of self control sadly not everyone has enough, for those people their problem was taking that first beer that was the beginning of the end they weren’t strong enough to prevent themselves from becoming an alcoholic. if THEY made their own choice to never have that first beer things would of went differently. either way accept the consequences of ones own actions.

        • painkills2

          I’m so glad you cleared that up for me. Now I can go forth and spread discrimination, just like you.

          • Cory El

            do you know what discrimination means?? the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex. what are you talking about???? you might disagree with my opinion but im not being discriminatory

  • Jessica

    Having been involved in a long relationship with a pain pills addict and being a dual diagnosis counselor at at a mental health facility in Houston, I have so much to add but will attempt to spare everyone and try to make it succinct.
    I will first start by asking everyone to watch a TED talk titled ” Everything We Know About Addiction is Wrong.” I very much side with this gentleman on his views and research.
    Another thing I will add is that every one person and their experiences is different. Yes, I will question any doctor and I believe everyone else should as well. Just because there is a PhD behind someone’s name never means that I’ll take what they have said as the ultimate truth. But I will question to learn what the doctor knows and has studied, coupled with my own experiences and research and form my own opinion. Which may or may not coincide with the Dr’s. To say that he is a doctor and he knows everything there is to know on he subject is lazy and ignorant. Does he know more than most of us on his topic of study, probably. Is he the end all be all concerning addiction, no.
    I think is is just as ridiculous to criticize a rapper for bringing an important point to the surface. He is reaching people who speak a certain language; the language of the masses, not the language of scientists. In college most students have to first learn this language and are taught there is not much of a fair translation from science to the masses, which is why a lot of information gets construed by the time it reaches the masses.
    Macklemore is speaking to and relating directly to the masses through his experience with addiction to opioids. I think it’s great he is bringing awareness to this issue and hopefully this promotes mmore people to conduct their own research from credible places and educate themselves.
    Ashe far as blaming the doctors for prescribing opioids, reading between the lines I understand the anger. Like a lot of people have stated in this forum, we believe doctors blindly and do not ask questions. We trust they know everything and will let us know all that we need to know. Including that they are prescribing an opioid and that it is addictive and that there is a risk to taking it. We rely on them to educate us and do what is best for us. Often times, through no fault of their own, they are too busy to provide this education and ask if someone is an addict. It is way easier to write the script, say take as directed, here’s some paperwork and I’ll see you in a few weeks.
    Chronic pain sufferers do have alternatives, most of which are no where near as easy as taking opioids. Some chronic pain ssufferers do not. There is a fine line between an addict who “needs” opioids for chronic pain and a chronic pain ssufferer who takes opioids for pain. It’s a tough call for both he doctor and patient to make.

    • Miss Visionary

      You said it yourself.
      “…which is why a lot of information gets construed by the time it reaches the masses…”
      This is the definition of Macklemore’s song, in my opinion.

  • Pepper Culpepper

    Dr. Hart is my hero. I admire him. I realize he’s an expert on drugs, but that does not mean he is infallible and never wrong. (To those defending him saying “he’s a doctor and he knows everything!”) Yes, he’s a neuropsychopharmacologist who is an addiction expert. We know this. But the whole issue surrounding opioids is so complex.

    I am a Chronic Pain patient, so I am one of those affected by an under treated pain condition. Because anyone with real, true debilitating pain doesn’t sell their prescriptions. We hold on to them for dear life because we need them. So the issue is very complex. Doctors prescribing them to people who don’t really need them, then people selling them, and then the people abusing them. It’s not just ONE thing or ONE person to blame, it’s a whole series of things. It’s a domino effect really. Apparently the doctors are prescribing opioids to people who don’t need them and those people are selling them to their friends and family and whoever else wants them so they can get high off of them. And we, the people who live with CP are the ones who suffer.

    I also understand the Drug War began with Harry Anslinger and that it was about race (with Opium it was Chinese railroad workers, with marijuana it was the blacks and Mexicans) but Dr. Hart is overstating the race card a bit here.

  • Pepper Culpepper

    I love that my comment was deleted.

  • Pepper Culpepper

    Saying that the opioid epidemic is “so-called” sounds very insensitive. Each and every person who overdoses and dies on opioids, whether alone or in combination, was someone’s son or daughter, wife or mother or father. Each person who struggles with opioid addiction touches many people’s lives, and my mother works in a NICU and sees babies born to addicts every day. So, it seems like Dr. Hart, you are minimizing the impact that addiction has on the people who are closest to those who struggle with addiction. That 25% number translates to hundreds of thousands of lives. If not close to a million when you consider the families and children of the opioid addict.

  • Jenna

    This is an undereducated opinion of a student nurse: I found this song accurate, and see multiple flaws in this article alone. 1st of all Mr hart, have you ever seen anyone withdrawal from anything? It is the most painful looking thing I can discribe. Also, I don’t see the racism aspect of this yes he is a white rapper, so what, addictions don’t discriminate. And yes he could not of literally mean “Dr tried to kill me” cause their oath, but there are pill pushing Dr’s and they can get Benfits from pharm companies. And as for the “gateway” drug I believe e was related to how heiron is cheaper then perceptions that get you the same high. So don’t get me wrong Mr hart having a doctorit in pych doesn’t mean you have common sense, and give you a reason to speak bs on topics you seem to have little to no knowledge on (and somehow relating weed to it) but you need to pop your little bubble, why don’t you research and talk to people that are in methanone treatmentioned programs. Lastly and most importantly, macklemore is speaking about personal experience here, whether takes a ton of balls to put that vulnerable side out to the world, so maybe don’t dis unless you have sat with someone as they dried out from pills…..

  • Pepper Culpepper

    I wouldn’t necessarily say that all people who die from drug combinations die “from ignorance.” I, along with many of my closest friends growing up, were well aware that combining drugs such as opioids and benzos, alcohol and cocaine, etc, was dangerous and potentially lethal. We just didn’t care. Or we didn’t believe that it could happen to us because we were young. Or, sometimes, you’re just in so much mental or physical pain that you don’t care and you want to take as many things at once so you don’t feel ANYTHING anymore.